University access to Internet

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Sat Jun 12 18:40:33 EST 1993


In article <1vapspINN6f4 at MINERVA.CIS.YALE.EDU> smith-una at yale.edu writes:

>
>Here's what the changing Internet looks like from the University of
>North Carolina.  The attached letter was distributed verbatim via
>Usenet on the UNC campus.
>
>	Una

I will insert some commentary into body of the subsequent message, which
originated at UNC-Chapel Hill.  The situation likes differnt here at
North Carolina State Univ., also a constituent member of the UNC *system*.

>
>------------------------ Text of forwarded message -----------------------
>
>MEMORANDUM
>To:     Deans, Directors, Chairs
>From:   William H. Graves
>         Associate Provost for Information Technology
>Re:     Governor Hunt's "Information Highway" and related matters
>Date:   May 27, 1993
> 
>On May 10, Governor Hunt announced the state's intention to enter into
>a contract with North Carolina's three major telephone companies
>(Carolina Telephone, GTE, and Southern Bell) to supply a state-wide
>fiber-optic network based on Asynchronous Transfer Mode technology.
>(See the News & Observer of May 23 for a popular account of the
>Governor's plan.)  

My understanding is that the NC Information Highway will link aboyt 3700
sites in all 100 counties....schools, libraries, government offices, county
governments, *prisons*, etc.  The phone companies hope that, in additon to
the connectivity specified in the initiative, "others" will ask to be
connected-for-pay to the fiber-optic physical backbone....something that no
single individual or business could afford to have come to them any other
way.

Just a few years ago, the previous Governor justified his commitment to
a large scals roads building program on the vision that everybody in NC
would be no more than 10 or 15 minutes from a "road that goes somewhere."

But commitments are dedicated to assuring North Carolina's place in the
*World* in the year 2000......can you say that for your state?

>                His announcement represents an opportunity for the
>University, but an opportunity that is laced with uncertainties.

I don't like that world "laced"...as in laced with arsenic.

>These uncertainties are akin to those attributed to the national
>academic community in an article on page 17 of the May 26 issue of the
>Chronicle of Higher Education reporting the intention of the National
>Science Foundation to "give the private sector more responsibility for
>the network" -- the Internet.  

And I'd assume that it is consistant with the negative-think expressed
in this newsgroup.

>                        Concerns about North Carolina's plan
>include (1) its cost to the University and (2) the functionality
>associated with a network that is being designed with little
>representation from UNC institutions and with no official
>representation from the research institutions in Chapel Hill and
>Raleigh.

This is the give away.....he includes NCSU (we are the research institution
in Raleigh  :^).  I spoke with two people in the "know" here at NCSU and I
came away with the converse of the attitude expressed by the UNC-CH
Provost.

I can say that NCSU can have as much de facto "input" as it cares to bite
off....in fact, it's been characterized to me that in the eyes of the
State agency responsible, this network will end up being just what it's
"recipients-of-an-opportunity" are will to make of it my commitment,
involvement and contribution.  In fact, NCSU stands to play a significant
role in developing the usage architecture.

> 
>The University-wide fiber-optic backbone network that just now is
>beginning to move from plan to implementation will enable UNC-CH's
>participation in North Carolina's "Information Highway" and in the
>national/global Internet beyond.  Full implementation will take
>several years and will not be without difficulties.  For example, it
>will be impossible to connect any more departments or buildings to the
>University's extant coaxial data backbone network unless we can
>purchase the no-longer-manufactured connecting technologies in the
>used equipment market.

He just woke up!  NCSU had a coaxial backbone, but that was swamped
immediately (suggesting what about UNC-CH capacity needs).  We have *two*
parallel fiberoptic backbones on campus....and a special microwave link
plus video patchboard to support HDTV-like video graphic for on campus
interactive linking to real time supercomputing at MCNC in RTP, NC.  

Several years
back, our College of Engineering commited itself to work station computing
for all engineering students in public clusters and supported in part by a
"lab fee."  (MIT's Project Athena is our EOS.)

Based on what happened during the introduction connectivity in our building
(Crop Sci and Soil Sci are *aggie* departments), I can say that there has
been serious fore thought given to how connectivity would be cooperatively
financed.  It has be *easy* to work with our campus communication people
because of their receptivity to anyone interested in pitching in.

In 18 months we went from nothing to having building wide TCP/IP Ethernet
access for anyone willing to install a $200 board in their PC...
I can telnet/ftp to the world from my desk and we have
a Unix email machine and just recently installed a 486 50 MHz EISA clone
as a Novell Server for the building, including Mac compatibility, not just
DOS.  We've got about 75 computers connected and growing.

Our campus computer services is pioneering Project Unity to provide a
model of campus-wide non-science, non-adminstrative shared resources for
telecomputing.  They recently installed several Sparc's to beef it up.
They offer a cooperative plan for fractional-to-full technician support
to keep any department's computing and telecommunications needs on the
cutting edge on a timely and affordable upgrade path.  The whole bunch of
them are stars and very open to *anyone* expressing an interest.

Our communications people are building toward offering 56
KBaud+ dialup access from home-to-campus...and that means dialup to
facilities like AutoCAD running on a Sparc. 

Our Extension Service (headquartered on campus) has committed to becoming
#1 in telecomputing and is developing national visibility.

> 
>State and national networking initiatives are critical to the
>University and to your units, even if they are complex and not easily
>understood.  

"We" have been volunteered and now it must be straight ahead.  :^)

I believe that telecomputing capability and telecomputing ability is
already a major determinant in who will received "creative" financing,
which may be the precursor to recession of traditional funding sources,
whether it originates at the national or state level or privately.

Some believe that telecomputing is already a sine non qua for reputable
reseach and teaching.

Our campus is is philosophically committed, not just to traditional
agricultural and home-making extension, but now to OutReach to our
diverse and growing non-farm economy and the people earning their incomes
in it. We are going export our knowledge to those who need it and
want it, wherever they are in the state.

The NCIH initiative will be *critical* in reaching all parts of the state,
rather than just the immediate environs of the five UNC campuses on the
CONCERTnet backbone.

>         We will gladly discuss these matters with you as you plan
>and budget for the years ahead.  Please consider attending, or sending
>a representative to, an open meeting scheduled in 1301 McGavran-
>Greenberg from 1-2:30 on Wednesday, June 23.  We will review the
>history and context of the Governor's initiative and suggest several
>vehicles for communicating your views to him.  Meanwhile, I commend to
>you the articles from the Chronicle and the News & Observer and invite
>you to contact me or Anne Parker at 2-7155 or Jim Gogan at 2-1621 for
>additional clarification.

What is happening on your campus?  What are *you* doing?
I'd suggest that if you think you can't get involved, then you believe
some else is going to be watching your back for you.  :^)

Remember, the telephone plus the merchant credit card reader plus UPS/FedEx
has made it possible to grow very large businesses in very untradtional
places...for example, Gateway 2000 is a clone PC outfit doing
$1,000,000,000 of business a year, up from a store front about five years
ago.

Visibility, reachability and cooperativity via telecomputing could reorder
the standings of many universities...and directly affect your research
dollars garnering ability.

> 
>cc:  Advisory Committees for Information Technology and Communications
>     Computer Center Directors
>     Information Resources Coordinating Council
>
>-------------------------- End of forwarded message -----------------------
>      Una Smith      Department of Biology       smith-una at yale.edu

Steve
---
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|     In person:  Steve Modena     AB4EL                           |
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