Office of Learning and Information Technology
CIO Council Meeting
Thursday, March 17, 2005
- IAA update
- Procurement update
- Report from the February 18th Provosts/CBOs' retreat & Draft Principles for Administrative Cost Reductions
- CSIAWG update
- Brilliant Cities Inc.
- Network update
- DOA telecommunications contract
- Common Systems Review Group update
- APBS update
- Next meeting
CIOs and their Representatives
The Identification, Authentication and Authorization (IAA) service is working well thanks to the efforts of Gary Smith, Dick Cleek and the IAA Governance Group. David Alarie has put up a draft informatory website at www.uwsa.edu/olit/iaa/newIndex.htm IAA works between applications: people don't access it directly. Therefore, the proof-of-concept project of creating a systemwide whitepages has been suspended because:
- the associated policy issues are substantial, e.g., there are multiple privacy definitions at different UWS institutions
- the database is designed for use by applications, not endusers
- resources are scarce
The governance group and Ed Meachen agree with this decision. A list of ongoing requests for IAA services for various applications was distributed. People should contact Mairead Martin if they have projects that need or could benefit from IAA functionality.
In the APBS implementation it became clear that there were not credentials in IAA for all faculty and staff. That has since been rectified. The APBS project provided a useful test. Within the next couple weeks the steps for implementing IAA authentication for the Voyager library system will be outlined.
Silver Oak Process
The state procurement process reorganization that is led by Silver Oak Solutions is going forward along nine "threads" toward issuing contracts for different products. There is a focus on working through resellers rather than directly with manufacturers. The goal is to have fewer vendors, suppliers and configurations in order to increase volumes and decrease prices. The peripherals contract will be issued on a category basis to multiple vendors, but only one vendor per category. A draft of the printer thread will be sent out shortly with a focus on HP specifications, but perhaps not for actual HP products. Information has not been sent out very far in advance of the meetings so there is little time to prepare or gather feedback.
The Vendor Managed System for IT Services Contracts was initially designed to have a pool of qualified candidates available at market rates. Now it appears that Silver Oak will do sourcing on the front end of the VMS. The current IT Services contract has over 300 vendors, of which about 100 actively do business with the state. Silver Oak would like to reduce the number to somewhere between 2 and 50 suppliers. Position descriptions for categories of services will be developed with ceiling rates for the different positions for three years. When Wisconsin has attempted this kind of approach in the past, there was difficulty in getting quality people at the stipulated rates.
The software thread has been meeting for many hours at a time. The UW System is looking to be able to:
- purchase products at academic pricing levels
- buy directly from manufacturers
- continue the maintenance contracts for existing site licenses
- continue reselling within the UW System
So far, continuing maintenance for existing site licenses is the only item that the thread is committed to. The RFP is broken into Microsoft and non-Microsoft pieces.
Many higher education contracts are based upon percentage discounts, but the RFP is favoring a cost plus basis which may not be amenable to the vendors. The contracts will have two year terms.
Products that are available through the chosen resellers will likely have to be purchased from those vendors. Specialized software products that are not sold through resellers can be purchased directly from the manufacturers. Unlike other states where Silver Oak has worked before and was able to generate significant savings, Wisconsin already had quite a bit of contract centralization. It appears that at least 8 threads will go forward because there is very high level backing.
As of today, the UW System has still not seen contract that Silver Oak has with the State of Wisconsin. The CIO Council agreed that is was important to document any increased costs that come out of this effort.
A quote for a site license price has been received from ImageNow, but it appears costly even though it supposedly takes into account individual purchases to date. The Technical Schools are pursing a non-site license type of contract aggregation. It may be more advantageous for institutions to buy off of the existing contract negotiated by UW-Madison.
There continue to be contract issues regarding the use of Informatica at FASTAR for all of the UW System institutions. David Hart is in conversation with a new Informatica vice president. In addition, the sales representative assigned to the UWS account will be changing.
Helen McCain will be leaving the UW System to take the job of Director of State Procurement. The CIO Council applauded Helen for her work.
Report from the February 18th Provosts/CBOs' retreat & Draft Principles for Administrative Cost Reductions - Ron Singer
A new process for looking at Administrative Cost Reductions was started by President Reilly at the suggestion of one of the chancellors in light of both the recent challenges to the UWS administrative costs, and the need to plan for the long term. A CBO/Provost meeting was held on February 18, 2005 to get the process underway. Guiding principles were created and six areas of exploration and their respective leaders were identified:
- Operational Efficiencies and Outsourcing (Ruth Anderson and the Purchasing Council)
- System Consolidation (Ron Lostetter and Debbie Durcan)
- Regional Consolidation (Rita Cheng, David Prior and Ron Yates)
- Staffing and Hiring Practices (George Brooks and another to be announced)
- Regulatory Flexibility (Ruth Anderson and Tom Sonnleitner)
- Academic Programming (Bob Sedlak and Ron Singer)
Technology issues will largely be dealt with by the first two groups. Ed Meachen is on the Academic Programming group because of the issues surrounding distance learning. Group 2 will consider systemwide activities such as admissions and financial aid. Group 3 will consider administrative opportunities, similar to the consolidation of UW Colleges and UW Extension. Some of the people involved feel strongly about adding value and not just reducing costs. The groups are charged with developing processes for exploring the issues within each area. The next steps in the overall process are:
- Share output from meetings with Chancellors, CIOs, Faculty Representatives, Chief Student Affairs Officers, Students Reps and other groups in March.
- Work with the lead of each major area to further refine the process to develop cost reduction ideas in March.
- Return to Provost and CBOs with comments from other groups and further refine the process to develop cost reduction ideas on April 14 & 15.
- Share the process to develop cost reduction ideas with the President and the chancellors on April 22nd.
- Working groups will begin meeting in May.
- Working groups will report to the provosts and CBOs in August.
- Recommendations will be brought to the President and chancellors in September.
In parallel with this effort, each campus is going through its own local cost reduction process and will be working from its own principles.
Bruce Maas suggested that the Staffing and Hiring Practices leadership be augmented with both a provost and a CBO. David Hart pointed out that the Collaterals Working Group and MILER Core Team have been pursuing and realizing efficiencies for six years, e.g., the process for the PeopleSoft upgrade to version 8 and the upcoming upgrade to version 9. Ron Singer confirmed that the President has indeed been trying to make that point. The process could identify areas where progress has been made already and thus redirect the focus to other areas.
Ann Marie Durso asked how efficiencies will be benchmarked in comparison to standards both within higher education and outside the industry. Ron Singer was only aware of benchmarking at a very gross level, e.g., the LAB audit. Finer benchmarks from peer institutions would be valuable from CACUBO and other groups, even if they are not as concrete as those in some industries.
For background on the Common Systems Interoperability Architecture Working Group, see csiawg.wisconsin.edu
As Nina Boss explained at a previous CIO Council meeting, the current interoperability picture looks like a spider web of point-to-point interconnections between a myriad of systems, which is difficult to maintain. By moving to a service oriented architecture (SOA), interoperability can focus on services, not data transfer, using standard, loosely coupled technologies.
An SOA RFI was issued in November 2004 and reviewed in January 2005. Two product classes were identified:
- All in one, application-centric solutions
- IBM, BEA, Oracle, Microsoft
- Cape Clear, Sonic, systinet
The anticipated pilot project has morphed from a small, simple project involving a few vendors to a tabletop design exercise that will be constructed as a second RFI. The exercise will include four services:
- Role notification
- Role inquiry
- Key crosswalk
- Key change notification
The four exercises grew out of work by the IAA group and the MILER CMS/SIS integration work at UW–Milwaukee. The goals are to answer questions such as:
- What software is deployed during an integration? Where and how is it deployed?
- What development is needed to accomplish an integration?
- What is the development/deployment process?
- How is the installation managed, maintained and expanded?
- How do individual integrations work together to form an infrastructure?
The next phase of CSIAWG will be a strategy for migrating to an SOA. This reflects growth in the vision of CSIAWG from tactical to strategic. The migration strategy has five major components:
On the organizational side, the focus is on shifting from providing data (grades) to services (grading). This results in:
- cultural shift
- staff training
- new expertise
- service interface designer
- service library manager
- integration competency centers (ICC)
- a move from project silos toward models based on shared and central services
On the process side, portions of the UW System business processes need to be analyzed:
- prioritization, e.g., most pain, most gain
- define/document business process
- look for optimization opportunities
- data needs (timeliness, availability, etc)
- using disruption to advantage
On the information side, portions of an enterprise data identification process are needed:
- let the business process analysis drive the data definitions
- don't build a complete dictionary
- start with the most needed definitions
- build upon existing standards
On the infrastructure side, the architecture and technology need to be examined:
- a gap analysis to look at what pieces are missing, e.g., messaging
- an architectural analysis
- a business process analysis and enterprise data identification
Vendors can be used to help with the evaluation to fill the gaps:
- business process analysis
- enterprise data identification
- data definitions/schema development
- service design
- technology gaps
It is important to always ask, "Is the request for data really a request for service?", e.g., giving a real time answer to whether a particular student is enrolled in a particular course and therefore allowed to check out an item from reserves as opposed to sending a entire file of every student name, ID number and course roster to the library system every night. The aforementioned strategy would be more secure, more timely and less resource intensive.
The roadmap to SOA takes place on many levels: At the UWS level there needs to be:
- an Integration Competency Center (ICC)
- a registry
- a governance structure
- development standards
- common tools
At the business application level, there needs to be:
- analysis of current interfaces
- analysis of the business processes that the interfaces support
- a reduction in the number of interfaces
- schema definitions
- migration from data transfer to services
At the campus level, there needs to be:
- a portion of the ICC
- capitalization on disruptions
- analysis of business processes
- reduction of interfaces
- migration toward services
The next steps for CSIAWG are:
- issue the second RFI, the Table Top Design Exercise
- nurture the formation of an ICC
- evaluate products
- continue to educate
- develop a standards document
- give presentations
- provide networking opportunities
- develop a new charter in light of accomplishing most of the old charter's goals
- evolve from a tactical to a strategic group
- reconsider the membership to give people a break and involve all of the campuses
Ideally the ICC should be defined using existing staff. The MILER Core Team has already taken steps in this direction, but does not currently have the full skill set. David Hart suggests that Nina Boss, Jim Phelps and Brian Busby set the initial direction for the ICC. MILER would need additional funds if the ICC is developed in parallel with the PeopleSoft 8.9 upgrade. One model would be for the UW System to fund the first couple years of the ICC before it moved to a shared funding model with the campuses, similar to the trajectory that MILER followed. Unfortunately, Common Systems doesn't have any additional funds so grassroots efforts and funding may need to begin at the institutional level. It will probably take a couple months to create an outline, project plan and budget for at least the first couple years. Perhaps, additional information can be shared at the April ITMC conference. It is important that the effort be understandable by more than just CIOs.
The CIO Council endorsed SOA as a strategic direction for the UW System.
Ed Meachen explained that there are a number of companies looking to supply broadband solutions in various areas of the country, especially where the telcos don't have a strong presence.
Tom Coleman explained that Brilliant Cities began working with Door County in 2003 to bring fiber to all premises. They are also doing a feasibility study in St. Croix County and meeting with state officials.
Fiber Optic Cable to the Premises (FTTP) means bringing fiber cable to a box on the wall of the residence or business, not just to the neighborhood.
Ultra High Broadband (UHB) means bringing the maximum feasible bandwidth to endusers, which is currently about 100 Mbps but will increase as the state of the art increases.
Brilliant Cities belives that FTTP can be deployed in all university communities and is looking to identify the communities that are motivated to do so. Funding is available. The Federal RUS Loan program currently exists, but its long term prospects are not known. Municipal bonds can work, but most communities are not willing to take the risk. Private capital investment is absolutely necessary.
Fiber networks cannot be created by a vendor on a "build it and they will come" strategy. The communities must be involved from the bottom up. The Brilliant Cities staff is largely composed of people with telecom backgrounds. They focus on communities that are underserved with regard to telecommunications, especially those with 5,000 to 50,000 residents.
Brilliant Cities contends that telcos and cablecos are not responsive to community needs, so communities are looking for other solutions. Federal dollars are available for delivering education and health care over broadband. States that lead in FTTP efforts will acquire attention from the media, industries that want to test new services and companies seeking to relocate to FTTP-enabled communities.
FTTP is no different than sewer or water. It is needed to secure the present and the future in respect to IT jobs and the IT economy. Fiber is the only technology that allows for almost unlimited bandwidth growth. Wireless will always be complementary for those applications and services that need to be mobile.
Current community expenditures for cable and telephone will already pay for an FTTP infrastructure. Not all FTTP deployments are equal. Telcos and cablecos like to restrict bandwidth to control what their customers can do. Inadequate FTTP deployments are expensive to upgrade. Non-open FTTP architectures can lock the network into one technology.
The pixel count on a 42" LCD HDTV takes a 19 Mbps feed, even when the image is compressed. Currently, copper wire only runs at about 5 Mbps and wi-max at about 15 Mbps whereas fiber is at 1,000 Mbps. The capabilities of fiber will continue to lead copper wire and wi-max.
Whatever infrastructure is deployed today, there will be a continuing need to increase the bandwidth. With fiber, you simply change out the electronics. It is important that the revenue from the network last for at least the life of the bonding, typically 20 years, which means the network must be upgradable.
The traditional telephony and cable service revenue models are not sustainable over the long term. In 1976 the notion of a Cray computer in every home would have been ridiculous. Today, a Pentium 4 has six times the power of a Cray 1. It is necessary to build the infrastructure for the future, not the present.
In 2004, the FCC ruled that the incumbent providers need to bring fiber only to within 500 feet of the end user ("fiber to the curb"). This reflects the gate keeping mentality. The Brilliant Cities model will build a central office in Door County with 100 Mbps of initial bandwidth to the enduser, and continued growth over the life of the infrastructure. The changeover has to be seamless with traditional content, as well as new services.
Communities are frustrated by the lack of broadband availability, cost, poor services and lack of control. Communities rightly don't want to be in the business of being telecom providers, but they can make bad decisions as a result of the partners and consultants they engage.
A major issue is population density, or lack of it, e.g., Washington Island. Communities often want an entire county done at once and are willing to blend the rates as opposed to a telco or cableco that wants to focus on the metropolitan areas. If entire communities pre-commit, the financial markets will get involved.
iPool holds the intellectual property for Brilliant Cities, which was formed in 2004 to market to communities and to bring together deployment, technical, product and service partners.
The current telco revenue model is unsustainable because VoIP will skim off the most profitable customers. Mobile telephones will also take away their land line business. MCI used to make 1/3 of its revenue on faxes, but email has eroded that. Will their remaining customers be sufficient to continue supporting the telco infrastructure?
The bandwidth potential of copper wire is not adequate to deliver the needed revenues of the future. Telcos tend to have large obligations for pensions, sunken infrastructure costs, etc. They have a large amount of debt per customer and need to fund both old and new infrastructures. A completely new FTTP service would cost less to deliver per consumer.
Q: Won't the telcos simply purchase companies like Brilliant Cities once they become successful? A: They probably won't have the equity value to do so.
Q: What's happening in Door County? A: Brilliant Cities is financing the entire effort to put FTTP everywhere beginning in July, not including Washington Island. Although Brilliant Cities will own the infrastructure, they will work in partnership with the community. They hope to sign up the first customers in the fall. The customers will get free local calling (currently all calls within the peninsula are long distance), long distance service for somewhere between 5 and 10 cents per minute, a 3 - 5Mbps Internet connection and cable TV all for about $100/month. Residents are currently paying around $120 - $160 per month for similar services. The initial goal is to make the change seamless, and then migrate the consumers to new services. They are also working with St. Croix County and other locations in Wisconsin and Minnesota.
Q: What percentage of the potential customer base do you need to sign up in Door County to break even? A: Roughly 30%, but it varies by sub region. Annecdotal discussions within the community indicate that virtually everyone is willing to sign up in preference to their current services.
Q: What is your average cost for connecting a household in Door County? A: It will probably cost $1,200-1,300 per household in the city, more in outlying areas. There are a couple hundred communities that have done FTTP using many different models. The community-wide deployments tend to have 40-70% uptake in the first year. Brilliant Cities deployments are expected to have a positive cash flow in their third year.
Q: What do you need from a municipality or county? A: There is a long list of relevant factors, but in general there needs to be a strong economic agenda, municipal rights of way and easements, and a desire on the part of community leadership for the infrastructure.
The CIOs were given copies of the BadgerNet Converged Network Master Services Agreement and a copy of notes from yesterday's technical briefing. A flurry of ad hoc meetings will likely begin soon, and the UWS institutions will need to determine how they can be available. One meeting is already scheduled with DOA at the ITMC conference on April 12.
The UW-Colleges were not included with the rest of the UW System in the contract because their bandwidth needs are so low, but the intention is that UW-Colleges will be treated similarly to the rest of the UW System. The contract has discounts if a campus has two or more services.
After yesterday's meeting, the UWS engineers felt they had more information that will help in designing a network. The vendors have good ideas that will scale to a few sites, but the scalability to a couple hundred sites is more vague. WBAA has contracted with Cisco to help with the network design. Fundamentally, it still looks like a video network that will also carry data. The UWS will need to continue to work closely with WiscNet and document all its concerns and questions.
The contract was signed on March 2, and SBC technically has only 30 days to line up all of its subcontractors. The language in the contract solicitation constitutes the binding agreement unless a specific item was removed in the signed contract. There are SLAs, but purposefully no remedies were specified in the contract.
There isn't bursting capability of the type currently available in WiscNet. SBC will deliver Internet traffic to the core node that serves each user. The state agencies and the UWS are the only participants who can backhaul their traffic out of their respective LATAs. A group of CIOs was formed to look at cost models in relation to how the UWS will do business, e.g., backhauling versus not backhauling ISP traffic to one of the four core nodes. Ron Kraemer will chair the group which consists of Kathy Pletcher, Jack Duwe, Mark Anderson, Elena Pokot, Brian Remer and Michael Schlicht.
Through their participation on the DOA Telecommunications Procurement Team for several months, John Krogman and Catie Isenberg have stressed the need for flexibility in the next telecom RFP, especially for UWS management of its VoIP systems. Matt Miszewski has stressed that the RFP needs to be considered from an enterprise position that considers the need of the average state employee. They are asking for support from the CIOs in lobbying for the inclusion of "agency managed" VoIP services in the new contract. It was suggested that the memo they drafted be copied to the chancellors, provosts, CBOs and CIOs.
The CSRG retreat documents have been further revised since the last CIO Council meeting. In particular, the relationship between the various project steering committees and the CSRG have been clarified. The draft outlines a possible Executive Officer for Common Systems with responsibilities for projects, project managers, and and steering committees. The Executive Officer will function in parallel with the CSRG and report to the Senior Executive Vice President, Don Mash.
At their meeting this morning, the CBOs were supportive of this model. They questioned what happens to the role of the Executive Officer when a Common System goes into production, especially if it is funded by chargebacks to the campuses. Often these systems wind up running on the UW-Madison computing platform. These questions will be considered at the next CSRG meeting. Perhaps there should be boards that govern systems that are in the post implementation phase.
A similar discussion with the provosts will occur tomorrow.
At the request of the APBS Steering Committee, the Risk Assessment they commissioned was distributed to the CIOs. At their February 25th meeting the chancellors called for postponement of the APBS project. A week ago, the APBS Steering Committee tasked Ed Meachen with hiring an outside consultant to analyze the parallel test data vis-à-vis the exit criteria. The posting for that position closes tomorrow.
Some members of the Steering Committee and others feel there is a need for a large meeting for people from the campuses to share the aspects of the project that have worked and not worked in terms of the parallel test and the campus readiness assessments. The chancellors will receive a letter asking them to appoint people from their campuses who have been involved in the project to attend a meeting on April 5 and 6 to debrief in concert with the implementation team, the Steering Committee and the vendor.
At the last CIO meeting there was a discussion as to whether the Information Technology Management Council should continue to have elected officers, or if the responsibility for organizing the semi-annual meetings should revolve from campus to campus. Doug Wahl will serve as chair in 2005-06. Judy Caruso has been nominated as chair-elect for 2006-07. The issue will be discussed at the April ITMC meeting.
The next meeting of the CIO Council will be on May 12, 2005.