UWO Network Liaisons
and Network Installation Processes:
Presentation to the Senior Director
Peter Marshall email@example.com,
Gary Goddard <firstname.lastname@example.org> and
Charleen Sullivan <email@example.com>
1995 10 04, hypertext links updated: 1996 05 24
This report is available in its entirety in a
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The UWO Network
How do I... Get Connected to the UWO
UWO Network Policies and Procedures
Network Install Process: Report of Ad
Hoc Group (July 95).
- In the beginning there was the NIC and the NOC ...a few people
trying to do a big job. They were
- inundated with requests for connection to the backbone
and response times were slow for making minor updates to
the DNS data
- not familiar with the customer environment (since they
were perceived as Unix people that didn't appreciate PCs
- Our response was to set up the Registration Improvements Group
(RIG) in June
1992 made up of most of the Distributed Services Team, all of the
Network Services Team and a scattering of others
which for three years has been continuously improving the process for
getting new sites onto the campus network. Something must have
worked as the network has grown quite quickly!
- A major part of the RIG process was a structure for distributing the
responsibilities for getting people onto the network. We defined
the NIC as the central clearing house for the information. We
assigned a liaison from ITS to work closely with a Technical Contact
from the department to get the network off the ground. The
Technical Contact formally takes on a number of responsibilities and
duties for the new network.
- The Network Liaison has a role of education and helping smooth the
registration process. We found that it was important that the
Liaison have some knowledge of the environment into which they were
going. Thus Mac experts were assigned to Mac dominant sites, Unix
people to workstation groups and PC people to PC sites (and
generalists to the mixed sites...)
- Members of RIG wrote the extensive handbook,
The UWO Network Handbook and a
How do I...
to provide background material and to document the processes
involved in connecting to the campus backbone. The Handbook
provides a single easy to understand source of all registration
related information as well as explanations of networking concepts
and practical how-to advice on setting up workstations and servers on
the campus network. In addition, the NIC and the NOC have
implemented procedures to make the processes of registration and
keeping that information current smoother, faster and more
- Getting a department onto the campus network is probably one of the
few functions that ITS performs that includes or can include almost
all parts of the Division (so much so that we often find
ourselves bumping into each other):
See figure for a simplified view of the process involved.
- First client contact (Almost anyone at ITS can be tapped
for this job)
- Network planning and consulting
(Everybody: Hardware Services, Ted, NIC, NOC, DAS Technical
Support, DAS System Support, Telecom, FST, DST, ...)
- Ted and hardware services for network design
- The store for systems and boards
- DAS System Support for coordination, EMC2 and ENCORE
- Distributed Services and DAS System Support for workstation
- Telecom to run the wires
- Network Services to get the obligations signed and the
machines registered and then to get the routers configured
- Distributed Services and DAS Technical Support for
- Front-line services because what they really want is Netscape
- Currently there are 27 people at ITS on the liaisons mailing
list. These people are involved as liaisons (18) to various
departments and units across the campus, members of the NIC or NOC
who work behind the scenes to get people connected and smattering of
managers of these people (Peter, Gary, Charleen and Vivi).
Currently almost all of DST and NST are involved with smaller
representation from four other ITS groups: FST, DAS Systems Support,
Hardware Services and CAST.
- We aren't finished yet: While we have over 4,800 connections to
the network, some 250 of those are PPP/SLIP connections, and
probably around 1,000 of them are labs. But, there are about 8,000
employees at the University. So, we don't even have half of the
faculty and staff on the network. The Faculty of Arts, for example,
has a very long way to go before everyone is connected. It could be
argued that we now have the easy ones with the hard ones
(the fringe -- the non-traditional customers of ITS) to follow.
Thus it is worth continuing and improving this process.
Looking at this in another way, we have about 230 campus units
listed in the directory. About 160 to 200 of these have been
assigned a domain or are included in a domain already defined. So
this looks as if we are nearly complete but much of the work still
has to be done to expand existing networks. Of course, many of the
older networks, some first set up in 1988 or earlier, are ready
for an extensive refit -- Engineering is an example of such a site
(but we haven't handled their upgrade all that well...).
We have recognized that the well defined and documented network
registration process is only part of a much larger process that
includes many parts of the Division (see Figure ).
While we have done some work to lay out an overview of that process,
there is clearly no one in charge of the whole thing. Indeed, for the
most part, we rely on the customer to provide much of the coordination
as the building or expansion of a departmental network proceeds. In a
few recent cases (like the Library or Huron College) a special group
is formed to help. While this may be appropriate for the big jobs or the
quasi-external jobs it probably isn't for the regular run-of-the-mill
connections. We need to establish an ongoing group of experienced
generalists with the time available to handle this coordination.
- Buy-in from all of ITS that the process of getting networks properly
set up is a priority. It is one of the major things done by the
department and we can't let it be done poorly.
- Develop and enforce consistent standards for what is charged and
what is not across the Division. One suggestion is that we charge
for everything, but that the customer doesn't always have to pay
(directly). At least then it will be clear about who is doing what
and for how much.
- Define clearly the responsibilities and accountabilities of each
group within ITS so that it is well understood who does what and
that there is only one group for each function. Figure
might be useful as a guide to help us define roles
and assigning responsibilities.
- Resources must be made available to allow us to obtain and train a
reasonable number of Network Liaisons and this must be considered an
important part of their jobs.
- Resources must be made available for more extensive Technical
Contact training to push the network maintenance out to the field
better so that the liaison job is smaller and easier. (Or tough
policies that require ITS to manage a network under contract where
we determine that there isn't an appropriate Technical Contact.)
- For efficiency, we must eliminate the Academic vs Administration
distinction. It serves no useful purpose.
- We must move toward further documentation of our operating
procedures perhaps through a Standard Operating Procedures
document. It is time to define these and provide support for
writing and once written, following such procedures across the
Division. A Standard Operating Procedure document will help
us to define
Such a document would be linked to the Division's
Facilities and Services document so that we advertise exactly what
we do and build appropriate expectations for our customers.
- the pass off points between the various specialists,
- the responsible groups or people for each part and
- the services that are being provided and those that are not.
A number of initiatives have recently been `spun off' from the
Liaisons group (or at least have some continuing relationship to that
group if only in a heavy cross over of people)
to try to address or at least define some of the larger issues that we
are facing. Many of these groups are forming from grassroots needs
and really don't have a formal place to report. A clearer definition
of organizational responsibility might help to solve many of these
problems more easily. Indeed many of the problems being addressed
below can be attributed to a very unfocused PC support policy over the
last five years at ITS and UWO.
- We continue to work on establishing new networks on campus and to
bring back the experiences and problems to the larger group
for comment and sometimes formalization in terms of
documentation. The ad hoc bookstore group was an example of a
fairly formal version of this.
- There is a group looking into short term solutions to the common
problems of running both so-called `administration' and
so-called `academic' network suites on PCs using winsock as
the common base.
- Another (heavily overlapping) group is looking at the larger
question of ITS standards for installing software on PCs.
(This one is clearly beyond the scope of the Liaisons, but it
does impact on their work.)
- The joint group on Windows'95 had at least a part of its
origins at a recent Network Liaison meeting (again well
beyond the scope of the Liaisons group).
- A small group is also looking into writing some configuration
recommendations for handling the security of `public' PCs and
`public' labs of PCs.
Figure 1: Summary Overview of Network Install Process (From the
Bookstore Study Group)
Consultation, ----------- Proceed?
Analysis & Design Further steps begin ONLY after the client
decides to go ahead with the installation.
2 This decision is usually made after all
Network hardware, software and network design
Registration information and quotes have been reviewed
and considered in consultation with ITS
Account Setup Once the decision is made to go ahead,
certain tasks of all the following steps
4 can begin. Activating these tasks now can
Network Cabling ensure a timely and integrated install for
Install the department.
Training & Support
UWO Network Liaisons
and Network Installation Processes:
Presentation to the Senior Director
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- Now known as the Network Liaisons Group.
Peter Marshall, ITS, UWO <email@example.com> Last update: 96-05-24 11:09 by peter