Oxford University Computing Services
Annual Report 1993/94
T Alex Reid
Table of Contents
1. GENERAL OVERVIEW
This Report has been compiled from contributions from many individuals within OUCS, and from statistics compiled from many others. We have attempted to make the Report a thorough general overview of the work of OUCS over the year in question, which runs from 1-Aug-93 to 31-Jul-94. To some extent, however, the statistics (and so perhaps the overall perceived emphasis of the Report in places) are only what we have available or can obtain in a relatively straightforward fashion, and so may not be truly representative. Much of the work of OUCS involves personal contact, and this is a type of activity for which it is very difficult or intrusive to record statistics.
We have attempted to provide the detailed figures (for those who like that sort of thing) as well as provide charts which illustrate particular points rather well. Where possible, we have also tried to provide comparative figures from previous years. However, this has not always been possible, and we will have to wait till next year to provide more evidence of significant trends.
It should also be emphasised that this report represents the work carried out by and at OUCS. As such it represents an important part of the IT activity of Oxford University, but by no means all of it. Indeed, it is neither representative in all areas, nor does it represent even the majority of the work in many areas. Other important IT activity at Oxford includes that of the Libraries Automation Team (LAT), the Administrative Information Systems Unit (AISU) and the Telecommunications Unit, plus the very substantial amount which takes place autonomously in many of the Science Departments and elsewhere.
This has been my first year as Director (though strictly speaking, the year covered by this Report started before I did). It has not been a year of major change, but of consolidation of changes already in train, and of laying the foundations for changes that are likely to occur in the near future.
OUCS is a service organisation (which implies being very responsive to the changing needs of its customers), and is set in the information technology arena (which means it must also respond to the changes in this very rapidly changing and growing industry). To some outside Oxford, the idea of embracing change may seem inconsistent with an institution which has outlasted almost all others over a period of 800 years, and which they may choose to see as resistant to change. It shows they know nothing of Oxford, which has certainly embraced the opportunities that IT has brought. Likewise, OUCS is, I believe, responding well to the changes it faces, the most obvious and dramatic being the fall from pre-eminence of the mainframe.
Mainframe computers (very large, general-purpose, multi-user systems) used to dominate university computing (at Oxford as at other places around the world). And they certainly dominated the work and thinking of university computing centres like OUCS. This is now no longer the case. The one aspect of OUCS' activity that stands out more clearly than most is the diversity of IT-based services it offers. I trust this Report succeeds in conveying some understanding of this diversity and the directions it is taking for the future.
1.3 Main Features of OUCS Activity for the Year
The University Network
The most significant aspect of the work of OUCS in this post-mainframe era is the infrastructure of the Network. In many respects, this is invisible. Indeed, OUCS will have done its job of installing, maintaining and supporting the University Network most effectively if it achieves a low visibility. It represents the most important piece of IT infrastructure the University will possess for the next decade at least. Already, the FDDI Backbone reaches every building in the University, including all Colleges. And the majority of University buildings are now equipped with suitable internal wiring, based on Ethernet. The second stage of this project was initiated during the year. This is a major achievement for a university so large, diverse and geographically dispersed as Oxford.
The main challenges now for OUCS are to maintain this system in good working order (it must be more reliable even than the telephone network), to extend and improve it as necessary, to monitor its use so that faults and overloads can be identified and addressed before they become critical, to ensure that it is "populated" with a comprehensive suite of readily-accessible information resources, and to endeavour to achieve as close to universal "enfranchisement" as possible. A Network Management system was acquired during the year to enable this essential monitoring to be undertaken. However, the overall task will involve us as much in persuasion as in technical support or training.
The Central Computers and Servers
Although no longer the principal focus of OUCS' activity, the central computers are nevertheless a most important service. This is borne out by the substantial increase in usage of both systems. True, the amount of "traditional" batch work on the Vax system has declined, but that has been offset by increases in numbers of users, in interactive sessions, and in disk space utilised. Indeed, usage of the Unix service (Black) has grown so much that a new system had to be acquired to provide for expansion. This system, Sable, did not come into user service until after the year had ended, but much work during the year was directed towards acquiring and installing it, and ensuring a smooth transition.
The same rate of growth is not expected to continue, since so much of it is attributable to the decision to permit all students to have access. Nevertheless, further growth in student use is expected as more become IT-aware - and OUCS will endeavour to discharge its part of the overall university responsibility to equip students with access to the IT skills and resources appropriate to their chosen discipline. Furthermore, it is anticipated, as Sable settles in, that an increasing volume of the work currently directed towards the Vax will find its way to Sable.
No clear plans have yet been laid, nor are likely to be laid for at least another year or two, but in due course OUCS might be advised actively to promote the move from Vax to Unix (be it to desk-top systems, to departmental workstations, or to Sable). In time, it seems inevitable that the bulk of the software appropriate to the university setting will be available only or first on Unix platforms. Thus, for the most part, migration is likely to take place automatically; but support of the Vax environment could reach the point where it becomes uneconomical to continue. There may be ways to reduce the cost, of course, and the final outcome is far from clear - hence the need to wait for the time being.
However, in the meantime, Sable will be groomed to take over that "flagship" role as and when appropriate (even though that role is expected to continue to reduce in relative importance in the future); OUCS will endeavour to make it as attractive, as function-rich, and as easy to use as the Vax has been.
Despite this reduction in attention to central systems, there are still some facilities for which a central site makes eminent sense. One is the provision of a large hierarchical file server. The recognition of the need for this facility has been growing over the past two years, so that the decision has now been made to take the necessary steps to acquire such a service during the year ahead. This will actually reinforce the move to distributed computing, since it will provide the means to overcome one of the chief obstacles to such - viz the need to store, share, backup and archive large quantities of data in as economical and reliable a fashion as possible.
The facility being considered will accommodate up to 10 Terabytes of information, utilising a hierarchy of storage devices, with tapes under robot control providing the base level; altogether this should provide around a 10-fold improvement in cost-performance over conventional disk storage.
In general, it would not be at all surprising if, as the emphasis on central computers declines in favour of distributed computing, there emerged needs for other central services in support of this distributed activity. This just underscores the increasing importance of the network infrastructure, and the fact that OUCS should be ready to adapt its services to changing needs and technologies.
General Help and Advice
The role of OUCS has increasingly been focused on helping people make use of IT resources wherever they may be located around the University. Many people still find their way to the Centre in Banbury Road and Teaching Facilities in George Street, where there are still many specialised facilities or extended opening hours to make that warranted. However, it is clear that more and more people will not want or need to come to us. The figures for the Advisory Service bear this out, with email enquiries increasing, but face-face enquiries declining.
Efforts have been made, and are continuing, to provide help and advice to people where they are. Increasingly, this means utilisation of the Network infrastructure that is being established. For instance, a "self-registration" capability has been put in place in time for the start of the 1994/5 academic year, which enables any person whose particulars are held in central university records to obtain a computer account themselves (with email capability, network access, etc), by using any network-connected terminal or micro in the University.
Much effort has been expended during the year on developing a comprehensive electronic information service based on the widely-used "gopher" and "world-wide-web" technologies. This has taken over from the older "INFO", and is being populated with useful reference material relating to OUCS services. Its chief attraction, of course, is that it can seamlessly link together the information supplied by a wide range of people, at the University, at other universities, or around the world. The system is therefore not dependent on one individual or group (such as OUCS) to provide useful information, but can build on the skills and resources in a much wider community. OUCS' role at Oxford, apart from providing information about itself and its services, is primarily to train and encourage others to become electronic information providers and consumers.
Training is in fact a key element of the OUCS strategy to foster distributed and universal computing, by endeavouring to equip people to become self-sufficient. The number and range of courses increased during the year, as did the attendance, but much scope still remains to extend the use that is made of these highly-regarded courses. This training programme is closely linked to the Learning and Resource Centre (LaRC), which is seen primarily as an adjunct of the training programme. There is no better environment to consolidate skills learnt in a course than by guided or assisted self-paced learning and skill development with material of real value to the learner. This service (renamed from the Open Learning Centre) also experienced an increase in use during the year.
Finally, it is essential that all the IT support resources of the University be harnessed in a coordinated fashion to ensure that our use of IT is as effective as possible. This will involve establishing sound lines of communication with other departmentally-based support staff, and clarifying (eg through the development of Service Level Definitions) the respective responsibilities for support, so that a seamless support network can be established.
1.4 Other Services
Most of the other services provided by OUCS illustrate the same pattern as the above - generally increasing activity, with the emphasis on equipping people to do their own computing (viz distributed computing). Thus:
One special service run by OUCS deserves a mention. This is the Centre for Humanities Computing, which promotes and supports the use of computing for research and teaching in the humanities. Interest in the use of IT in the humanities is increasing, and experience is generally bearing out that such people often require special assistance. This arises in part because they typically have received no formal quantitative skills training, as most scientists would do in the normal course of their undergraduate or graduate studies; it is also partly due to the relative complexity of much of the projects they undertake as their first introduction to IT.
But there is also evidence of another more serious impediment to the widespread adoption of IT in the humanities. This is (perhaps because of the first of the above observations, but maybe because humanities projects often seem to be more complex than science ones) that many of them seem to need ongoing support far longer than their scientific counterparts. There are thus two great challenges to the CHC: to promote more widespread use of IT throughout the humanities, and to find ways to equip them that promote self-sufficiency more effectively.
The Centre for Humanities is well-placed to take up these challenges. It is highly regarded among the Oxford humanities community, and also nationally and internationally, and the synergy developed by having several related projects located within the Centre is invaluable. The addition of a third member to the Centre in time for the 1994/5 academic year will also be crucial.
1.5 Future Prospects
It is clear from the above discussion, where many trends have been identified, that the focus of OUCS' energies in the future will increasingly be upon the expertise of its staff, in developing that, in adapting it to changing technology and user needs, and in ensuring it is accessible to people all over the University (eg by proxy through electronic information services).
The Network and all that accompanies it will be the most important technical responsibility OUCS will have - to make it as reliable as it needs to be, to ensure it is populated with a rich array of information resources, to ensure that people throughout Oxford know how to exploit its potential to the full.
It is also clear that OUCS must become more accountable. This is necessary if misconceptions about our role and value are not to thrive, especially as these continue to change significantly, and to enable the University to make difficult resource allocation decisions in a well-informed fashion. This Report is part of that process, as is the intention to develop Service Level Definitions for each of our main services, which describe the services provided, the standards to be achieved, and the limits of what can be provided.
Our ultimate goal must be to encourage and help as many people as possible to recognise the potential of IT for their research, teaching and support, to help them utilise it effectively, and to enable them to become as self-sufficient in their use of IT as possible. Because of the size of the task, and the ever-changing ground we stand on in IT, this will not result in the disappearance of OUCS in the near future, though that may appear to be our goal!
2. NETWORK SERVICES
2.1 Campus Backbone
The present Campus Backbone Network consists of 3Com Netbuilder II Bridge/Routers located at OUCS and in eight Telecommunications Rooms which are distributed throughout Oxford. All the Bridge/Routers are linked to form one of the largest FDDI ring installations in the UK. The network was brought into operation during January 1993 and by September 1993 the number of attached departmental and college Ethernets had grown to 55. During the 1993/4 University year the number of attached Ethernet networks has grown to just over 90.
A Network Management system based on SunNet manager has been installed and during the coming year applications software will be mounted and brought into operation to assist in monitoring the network. Currently, sampling indicates that the Backbone utilisation averages no more than about 1% across any 24-hour period, with peaks of around 3-4%. Thus there are no immediate fears of overloading.
At present there are several projects in progress throughout the University and colleges to install structured wiring within buildings for providing Ethernet connections. OUCS is directly involved in project managing the largest of these projects ("Phase II") which involves installing 1900 outlets throughout 23 buildings of the university including the Bodleian Library, Ashmolean Museum, St Cross building and other university buildings which presently do not have Ethernet installed in them. These activities will result in adding a further 30 to 40 Ethernets to the backbone during the 1994/5 university year.
A router has been set up at the John Radcliffe Hospital to handle the clinical medical departments at that site, the Warneford and the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. A planned fibre-optic installation to the JRH has been delayed by licence problems, but is now scheduled for the end of 1994. In addition, the Backbone infrastructure will be increased to allow connection of clinical departments on the Radcliffe Infirmary site.
Routing of Novell networks through the Backbone was set up in August 1993, and routing of Appletalk on a restricted basis is also now available.
Another significant development during this year has been the connection of the Campus Backbone Network to SuperJanet which was brought into operation in mid-May 1994. This has had the effect of increasing the access speed to external networks from 2Mbit/sec to 10Mbit/sec with the potential for further improvement. The increase in traffic (see Figure 1) indicates this must be watched closely.
The current Network Backbone structure is set out in Figure 2.
2.2 Gandalf & Ethernet Support
The Gandalf equipment continues to provide an extremely robust and reliable service for standard asynchronous connections. Apart from seasonal variations, usage as yet shows little sign of decline, despite the vast increase in Ethernet availability (see Figure 3). There are currently some 2700 Gandalf lines still in use (or at least still maintained), and in most areas new Ethernet connections have supplemented rather than replaced the older circuits. It is however expected that the coming year will see a consolidation on Ethernet, especially after the Phase II wiring work is complete.
The number of available dial-up circuits has been increased from eight to ten, and further improvements to this service are planned. Usage has grown by about 20% during the year.
Apart from the Phase II wiring project work, OUCS has also been actively involved in departmental projects to migrate to Ethernet (usually as a result of building work or relocation). In particular, OUCS has worked with the clinical medical departments in the Radcliffe Infirmary in order to prepare them for connection to the Campus Backbone.
There are now some 4600 registered IP addresses on the University Network.
SLIP (Serial Line Internet Protocol) and PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) services were offered in February 1994, enabling Ethernet-specific facilities to be used over serial lines, albeit at relatively low speeds. Unfortunately, flow-control problems between Gandalf and the host systems (coupled with the need to maintain security of access) prevented this being used over dial-in lines for most of the period under review (although these problems have since been resolved).
As well as providing primary DNS (domain name server) facilities for the Oxford domain, a secondary DNS for the United Kingdom Academic domain is now offered to reduce the risk that use will have to be made of the US name server.
The installation of the SuperJanet connection has brought with it a fundamental change in use of network protocols. The basic protocol of Janet was X.25, with IP traffic encapsulated over the X.25 carrier. With SuperJanet this procedure is reversed. A large majority of the University's external (and of course internal) traffic is IP rather than X.25, and this change brings increased efficiency of use of the link. X.25 usage is expected to continue at a reducing level for at least another year, and efforts are being made to convert the major users. One continuing use of X.25 is the national FT-Relay service, an FTP-Blue Book conversion facility which OUCS runs on behalf of the Janet community.
2.3 Information Services & Internet Services
The major development this year in the value-added services OUCS offers over the Network was the move from the home-grown INFO service (based on the Vax) to a fully distributed University Networked Information Service (UNIS), based on a combination of Gopher and World Wide Web (WWW). OUCS runs a dedicated system providing the central University-level Gopher and WWW and provides filestore for departments who are unable to run their own information servers. Much effort has been expended in supporting information providers for the Gopher/WWW servers, and in supporting general use of Internet services.
The expected trend for the future will be for further development and expansion of the Gopher and WWW (especially the latter) services, with many more departments providing information through these routes and with more general involvement in the use of online information by the University as a whole. In order to aid and encourage this, a need was recognised for increased training and technical support for information providers, as well as for the promotion of the use of electronic information amongst potential suppliers and consumers. It is also the intention to work closely with the library community to expand the use of information services and Internet services in general throughout the University.
The appointment of an additional staff member in this area in time for the start of the 1994/5 academic year will assist with this, and should also accelerate the provision of electronic information relating to OUCS and computing generally.
The increased resources on the new Unix system (Sable) will allow OUCS to provide an anonymous "ftp" service for users' own files (incoming and outgoing), and it is also hoped to be able to provide a general Listserv-type mailing list facility.
2.4 Electronic Mail
The University Mailer came into service on 1-Oct-93. This allows Oxford to use addresses of the form first.lastname@unit. Everyone with an email address was sent a message during September informing them of the new format of addresses and asking them to inform us of any changes. These were acted upon and the online lists are now updated nightly to reflect any changes.
In January 1994 OUCS started rewriting outgoing mail headers on the DEC5500 so that all new users had their mail sent out as first.lastname@unit by default. This option was advertised to current users emphasising the benefits that would accrue during the transfer to Sable.
All central machines and file servers in 6 departments/colleges now have their outgoing mail rewritten. Another 5 departments/colleges are about to change over and another couple are planning the change.
In addition we update and advertise addresses for several more departments, including Physics.
The number and size of email files has increased and OUCS now runs two machines in parallel in order to distribute the load and to provide backup.
An email working party was formed to look at e-mail software with a special reference to PCs. The working party recommended that OUCS promote ECSmail which supports the IMAP client/server protocol, and MIME encoding system, and has clients for Windows, Mac, DOS and with Unix clients due shortly. This recommendation was accepted and the software has been purchased under CHEST licence with funds from the Site Licence Software Committee. ECSmail is being evaluated thoroughly and OUCS will commence distributing the software as soon as the official release of the latest version is received. It is planned that, when Unix clients are available for ECSmail, this will be taught in place of Pine on OUCS courses.
The quantity, size and throughput figures for August/September (normally a quiet period) are given in Section 8, and depicted in Figure 4, which also shows the large percentage of University email associated with OUCS Vax accounts. These figures are for mail which the mailer handles for delivery and does not include mail which is addressed explicitly to the same computer from which it originated.
3. CENTRAL COMPUTING SERVICES
3.1 General Purpose Service (Vax)
This year has been marred by an unusually high incidence of system failures, almost all of them caused by faults in the Digital communications software providing NFS and TCP/IP services. Several new patch versions have been put into service, and while these have cured or ameliorated some problems, others have remained unresolved. As these problems occur only under very heavy load, adequate testing by us (and seemingly also by Digital) has been impossible to achieve. OUCS regrets this and is most concerned at the level of service afforded by Digital in addressing these problems..
A lot of systems effort was put into installing and testing VMS 6.1 on a development machine. Its introduction to user service, replacing VMS 5.5, was scheduled for the end of the summer vacation. VMS systems expertise has also been provided to various other VMS sites throughout the University.
The final withdrawal of the Coloured Book software took place in June 1994. (Digital support had been withdrawn the previous year.) The Coloured Book software was originally developed to provide mail and file transfer facilities on Janet, and was the only permissible set of software protocols for many years. Its functionality is now provided by Internet protocols, and where the old protocols are still in use conversion is provided. An extensive exercise to find and assist users was undertaken before the withdrawal.
A new release of the MX mailer software was mounted. MX is used on the Vax instead of Digital's standard mail software as it provides, inter alia, an intuitive addressing mechanism. The new release has removed the performance problems that have occasionally affected the system in the past, particularly when handling the volume of mail arriving after system or network outages.
Additional disk space (using second-hand equipment) was added during the year to cope with demand, which grew by 15%. New releases of most packages and compilers have been mounted during the year.
|Figure 5: VAX Batch CPU Hours||Figure 6: VAX Interactive Sessions|
|Figure 7: VAX Disk Usage (Mbytes)||Figure 8: Number of VAX Usernames|
Although the volume of batch usage has declined, interactive use is still high, with concurrency peaks of up to 225 users being recorded (see Figures 5-11).
Figure 9: VAX CPU Usage
3.2 Unix Service (Black)
The number of users of the DEC 5500 rose from 689 in July 1993 to 2281 in July 1994. Had the capacity of the 5500 allowed it, the load would have increased in proportion. With 700 users the system was only just coping with the load; with 2300 users it was grossly overloaded. For much of the year queues of 20 to 30 jobs waiting for the processor were commonplace during prime shift, and this clearly had the effect of persuading many users to try at a less popular time of day; evenings became almost as busy as daytime. See Figures 12-15.
Not only performance suffered. Reliability dropped to an unacceptable level during Michaelmas Term; the demand on peripherals outstripped the capacity of the hardware, and various system reconfigurations were undertaken to ameliorate this. Reliability was much improved during Hilary and Trinity terms, although the overloading continued.
Memory and swap space were both stretched to their limits much of the time. Not infrequently processes could not be started because memory for them was not available, and a few times the system had to be rebooted to clear this problem.
|Figure 12: Black CPU Hours (excl. OUCS)||Figure 13: Black Interactive Sessions|
Filestore, too, was in very short supply. Undergraduate users were restricted to 500 kb of normal filestore. This resulted in overuse of temporary filestore, and reaping dead temporary files had to be done more and more rigorously until, at the limit of what was sensible, each morning all files more than a day old were deleted. This undoubtedly resulted in much network traffic initiated by users re-acquiring files they had brought in from afar. Temporary filestore was not helped by the pressure of incoming mail. The partition used for this had to be increased in size (the extra was taken from temporary file space) and quotas had to be introduced on the mail partition to encourage users to clear fresh mail quickly.
|Figure 14: Black Disk Usage||Figure 15: Number of Black Usernames|
These problems were not unanticipated. At the time undergraduates were first given usernames on the 5500 (Hilary Term 1992), it was realised that the machine's capacity would soon be outstripped. However, in 1993/944 agreement was reached with the University for a replacement system; and in June 1994 a DEC 2100 was delivered with 12-15 times the processor power, 16 times the memory and about 8 times as much user filestore as the 5500. This has now (late September 1994) taken on the 5500's workload.
As an adjunct to the central Unix services, OUCS also provides substantial systems and network security advice and assistance; this will be augmented for the start of the 1994/5 academic year by the additional of another half-time staff member.
3.3 Vector Processing Service (Convex)
The Convex has continued to provide a vector processing service to users with numerically intensive jobs, although by today's standards it is a relatively slow system. The advantage of a separate system for such work is that number crunching is essentially all it does. Its speciality is not diluted by handling the more common types of task (such as mail or information retrieval) on a large scale; and other, general-purpose Unix systems are not asked to perform large scale numerical jobs in addition to their routine work. See Figures 16-20.
|Figure 16: Convex CPU Usage||Figure 17: Convex Interactive Sessions|
For the first period of the year the Convex behaved impeccably, clocking up over 200 days of uninterrupted service until an air-conditioning failure on 16-Feb-94 brought down the machine. Several subsequent crashes were fixed by a board change on 23-Mar-94. At the same time some further losses of service were caused by a kernel table overload. The cause of this problem was identified on 22-Mar-94 and steps taken to obviate it.
The operating system was upgraded to version 10.1 on 24-Mar-94. Since then there has been no further break in service.
|Figure 18: Convex Disk Usage||Figure 19: Number of Convex Usernames|
Figure 20: Convex CPU Usage
3.4 Specialised Peripherals
OUCS has a range of specialised peripherals for general use; these are usually devices which departments or units could not be expected to afford for themselves. As technology changes, these will be phased out and new devices acquired. The current devices and related services are considered below.
The Monotype Prism PS Plus imagesetter is a high-resolution output device intended for producing camera-ready copy for printed material. It offers output on film or bromide, at resolutions of 600, 1200 and 2400 dots per inch. The device is sufficiently accurate to permit its use for outputting images where a high degree of absolute accuracy is required. It is the basis of the National Academic Typesetting Service that OUCS offers to all universities in the UK as a means of cheaply producing camera-ready copy.
OUCS has purchased a site licence for the entire Monotype Classic PostScript font library. This collection of over 600 fonts, which includes some of the world's most famous quality typefaces, has been installed on the imagesetter, and the fonts are also available for purchase at a very low price from the OUCS Shop. Efforts are continually made to ensure that the font library is kept up to date, and new fonts are added or commissioned, as necessary, to satisfy the developing needs of the user community.
Agfa Colour Laser Printer
During the last year, OUCS purchased an Agfa XC305 400 dpi colour PostScript laser printer. This device can print on A4 or A3 paper, or A4 transparencies, and is capable of producing output with a very high degree of continuous tone quality allowing it to print to near photographic standards.
The device can also be used as a colour photocopier and such a service was introduced in July 94.
Oce Postscript Laserprinter
The Oce 6750PS is a high-performance Postscript laser printer with a resolution of 508 dpi (200 dots per cm) and can produce near-typesetter quality output with text and graphics having smoother and crisper edges than many other laser printers. It is a duplex printer (capable of printing on both sides of the paper) and is therefore suitable for producing documentation.
A "do it yourself" colour scanning service was introduced in the latter half of 1993, based on an Agfa Arcus Plus scanner connected to a Macintosh Quadra 950. This provides for document and image scanning up to A4 in size, at a resolution of up to 1200 dpi.
Advice is available on publishing matters to University members and users of the National Academic Typesetting Service. This advice covers the use of fonts, typographic needs and the use of high quality composition software. Some original work has been done at OUCS to permit the use of the TeX system (one of the most flexible and powerful text composition systems available) with Postscript fonts and languages requiring transliterated input, such as Hebrew.
Staff have continued to provide a service of routine operation for all the OUCS computers and associated equipment installed in the Computer Room. There has been significant turnover in operations staff, though this has not been allowed to affect the quality of the service provided. However, it is clear, as more and more of their functions become automated and equipment more reliable, that consideration needs to be given to providing these staff with more satisfying work and development opportunities. This is being done. For instance, operations staff have take on various new duties such as the reception of equipment for repair and the colour photocopying service.
A major new air-conditioning system was installed in the Computer Room during the year; this caused substantial disruption to operations' work, but little of this will have been seen by users.
A range of computer consumables is used within the Computer Room and have been obtained by OUCS at favourable rates. These have been made available to users through the Shop, including Maxell disks which are manufactured in England.
OUCS continues to facility-manage the IBM computer system which is used to run the Library system, OLIS.
Operations Support continues to provide valuable disk copying, conversion and recovery services. Disk copying activity rose dramatically during the year (mainly due to taking on the Microsoft bulk licence scheme). See Figure 21.
Figure 21: Number of disks copied
4. PERSONAL COMPUTING
4.1 Microcomputer Centre
OUCS has six technical staff who are specialists in personal computers, offering a service to University members who require assistance with their use of personal computers, in particular, IBM compatible PCs and Macintoshes. A number of other staff within OUCS are also available to offer more specialist advice to micro users in the areas of statistics and databases.
Personal computer viruses continue to be a hazard for all users. In the course of the year 102 viruses have been reported to OUCS, and we have in turn reported the details to the Computer Crimes Unit at Scotland Yard. It is pleasing to be able to report that there have not been any serious virus outbreaks over the past few years, though, unfortunately, the virus problem is going to continue to be with us for the foreseeable future. Consequently, all personal computer users must learn about the basic issues and continue to take some simple precautions of the sort that OUCS advocates and publicises.
4.2 Micro Network Support
There are three Micro Support staff who specialise in offering help and advice on networking for personal computers. This covers two main requirements. Firstly, support is available to individual users needing help connecting their computers to the University network and installing software to access networked facilities. Secondly, support is available to departments and colleges for specifying, installing and managing Novell fileservers.
Backup and Archive Services
When a University File Server is acquired (planned for mid-1995), personal computer users who have access to the University network will be able to use a backup and archive facility for their files.
4.3 Micro Maintenance
For a number of years now, OUCS has been providing the University with a personal computer and peripheral repair service. Currently there are 1123 computers and 644 printers registered with the service. Over the last 12 months (Aug 93 - July 94) 673 repairs were carried out with a peak of 89 repairs in one particular month.
The service is currently under review to determine where affordable improvements can be made.
4.4 Software Site Licences
OUCS has obtained site licences for over 150 products (including "bulk purchase" deals), which are then made available at much reduced cost to all members of the University (depending on exact terms of the licence). In addition, OUCS manages the "bulk-purchase" arrangements for Microsoft and WordPerfect products (the latter in conjunction with the University Purchasing Officer).
During the year, a proposal was accepted by the University that it should pay the up-front site licence fees for a selection of popular and/or fundamental products, as a means both of promoting greater use and of reducing the administrative costs. This will come into operation at the start of the 1994/5 academic year. A further improvement is expected with the appointment of an additional staff member to coordinate this whole area - this will then see the development of a comprehensive database of information about all such licences within the University.
The pattern of continually increasing Shop sales continued, with the 1993/4 turnover being up by 45% on the previous year. This continues what has become a well-established trend over the past 4 years (see Figure 22).
Figure 22: Shop Sales
It was particularly encouraging to see that this year the major part of the growth was from internal sales (+72%), a sector that had previously tended to lag noticeably behind external bodies. In addition, OUCS handled the purchasing of hardware and software for the humanities faculties (see below).
Although hardware sales easily accounted for the major part of the Shop's turnover, three other product categories showed a greater rate of growth when the last six months trading are compared with the same period for the previous year. The major product growth areas were documentation (771%), electronic components (329%) and software (193%); hardware still managed an impressive growth rate of 165%. However, it should be noted that much of the increase in documentation sales resulted from taking on the Microsoft bulk-purchase deal during the year.
All indications are that both internal and external demand will continue for the foreseeable future, the main immediate growth inhibitor being the current resource limitations of staff and space. These have not changed since 1989/90, though sales have increased 10-fold since then. These are likely to be the most serious impediments to further growth, so a review of the Shop, its potential and its needs if it is to achieve the above potential, has been put in hand.
Humanities Faculty Purchasing
The procurement of hardware and software for humanities faculty based staff (from English, Law, Literae Humaniores, Modern History, Modern Languages, Music and Theology) commenced in November 1993, with a sudden influx of 60 individual orders for five different PC manufacturers products, plus Printers and Software. Since then there has been a steadily escalating demand for the service and by year-end the turnover had passed £145,000.
The procurement procedure for these faculties has necessarily developed into a particularly personalised service, tailored to each individual customer's needs. Initially, some difficulties were experienced with this service. However, problems with the receipt of Requirements and Authorisation forms (from the University offices) have been largely overcome, and OUCS's well established purchasing, distribution and invoicing procedures have been adapted to the needs of the (sometimes "base-less", and often administratively unsupported) humanities faculty members. As a consequence, the numbers seeking this new service are increasing month by month. Although this service involves considerably more personal interaction than other hardware purchases, it clearly is meeting a real need for which there appear to be few alternatives.
5. TRAINING AND HELP
5.1 Training Courses
OUCS currently runs 50 different IT training modules which vary in length from a couple of hours to seven half-days. They include introductions to computing facilities, the use of specific systems, applications software and programming. Course modules can be chosen to suit individual needs and there is a continuous programme of updating to keep pace with developments in hardware, software and training techniques. User Guides describe the facilities available and they also include training materials used on the courses. All IT training courses are offered to all staff and students at Oxford University; others can pay to attend if there is space. A booklet is published which describes all the courses, and that information is also available on the University Networked Information Service. See Figures 23-24.
|Figure 23: Training Courses Offered||Figure 24: Course Attendance Hours|
The main developments during the last year have been in the areas of MS-Windows and networking courses. It was a transition year when many people were starting to use MS-Windows but others were unable to use it because their machine was not powerful enough; some have preferred not to move to the Windows environment. The new "Introduction to MS-Windows" course and "Further Use of MS-Windows" course proved popular as did the "Further Use of WordPerfect for MS-Windows" course. The "Introduction to WordPerfect" course using the function keys continued throughout the year for those who are unable to run Windows, but by the end the attendance was low. The three advanced WordPerfect courses all had their practical sessions developed so that they could be run using either function keys or the menus.
The "Introduction to Computers: Basics and Beyond" course continued to have full attendance. This and many other courses are also available in the IT Learning and Resource Centre where a supported environment is provided; alternatively the books can be bought from the OUCS Shop with a disk containing the practical files so that the course can be run on one's own microcomputer.
With the rapid development of the networks two more courses were developed: "Introduction to Internet Services" and "Introduction to FTP and Telnet", which both proved popular.
The PCs in Lecture Room A at Banbury Road were all replaced during the Summer of 1993 with the same RM 486 machines that are in the lecture rooms at George Street.
This coming year will see the rationalisation of the word processing courses. There will be one "Introduction to Word Processing" course which is a generic course using the popular task-based format; attendees will use any of the products WordPerfect for Windows, WordPerfect for DOS or Word for Windows during the practical sessions. Three new booklets are being written for this course. The advanced modules ("WordPerfect for the Office", "WordPerfect for your Thesis" and "WordPerfect for Desktop Publishing") are also being rewritten for WordPerfect for Windows and using the task-based format.
The Excel and PageMaker courses are being updated for new versions of the software. The Excel course is also being sub-divided into three shorter modules to allow more flexibility in timetabling and user choice of which aspects are needed. The Unix and Pine mailer course has been divided into two parts so that those wishing to learn about email can attend just "Introduction to Electronic Mail and the Pine Mailer". A course using ECSmail is planned for early 1995.
As more courses are converted to a self-paced format it is envisaged that more users will purchase the booklets and teach themselves, or come along to the IT Learning and Resource Centre in their own time. It is also hoped that some departments will use OUCS training materials themselves to teach students about IT as part of their academic course.
Another area which needs consideration is the training of IT support staff throughout the university in areas such as networking techniques, customer care, etc. In these areas external courses and workshops are probably part of the answer. The UCISA Training Group runs regular staff training courses as does the Staff Development and Training Unit at Oxford. The availability of technical courses at other colleges and universities will be explored.
5.2 General Advisory Service
The Advisory service forms the central source of support for users of OUCS systems and services, and it continues to be popular and widely used. It draws upon all the resources of OUCS to present, as far as it can, speedy and effective replies to queries and problems brought by callers who come to the Advisory Desk at 13 Banbury Road, or who make contact by telephone or electronic mail. See Figures 25-26.
|Figure 25: Advisory Callers||Figure 26: Advisory Queries|
Advisory is also a very important source of feedback to OUCS, and it can act on occasion as both a safety valve and an early warning system. All calls are logged, and the logs regularly reviewed.
The ever-increasing use of email is perhaps the most significant one from a call-management point of view, because each incoming email query can potentially develop into a set of dialogues between User, Advisors and "Experts". It is estimated that on average between 5 and 10 messages are generated by each user email contact. Currently, a number of commercially-available Help Desk systems are being evaluated, with a view to automating the management of calls, and linking together the various points of user contact - Advisory, User Registration, etc - within OUCS.
Overall usage of the Advisory Service has remained about constant; however, there has been (as expected) a noticeable decline in the number of Vax enquiries. Unix has seen the biggest increase (mainly due to the large number of students with accounts on Black. It is significant that there were more enquiries about microcomputers than about anything else in both years.
5.3 Learning and Resource Centre (LaRC)
The Learning and Resource Centre (LaRC - formerly the Open Learning Centre, OLC) has continued to be well-used and, judging from customer satisfaction surveys, very successful. In response to demand and the type of usage, the facilities on offer have been extended, and the hours of opening have been increased; there has been a useful clarification of the aims and priorities of the centre coinciding with the change of name. More details of these changes follow. The number of recorded users remains much the same as last year, but the figures do not include those users referred from taught courses, those who want only to use the printing facilities and those who use a shared LaRC username in order to access electronic mail, all of which have increased. The lack of complete records reflects the difficulties of logging all usage.
Commencing in Michaelmas 1993 the LaRC remained open until 7.30 pm on weekdays during Term time. Security of the building and support for users was carried out by employing demonstrators. These were a mixture of administrative staff and post-graduate students. Usage in the evenings was disappointing in the first Term, but picked up steadily during the year with between 10 and 20 people coming and going throughout the evening. This is still rather less than was expected, nonetheless it was judged to be a useful facility which should be carried on in the next academic year.
Towards the end of the year, a review of the role and functioning of the LaRC was carried out, and considered by the Academic Computing Services Committee. It was agreed that while priority for LaRC usage would be for those acquiring IT skills, valid use would also include those working on their own material who required support, and those who simply required the use of the resources when these were otherwise idle. In view of this widening of usage, it was agreed that the name should be changed to the IT Learning and Resource Centre (LaRC). The General Board also agreed to establish the post of Computing Officer responsible for the Centre, thus acknowledging the important role it plays and placing it on a firmer footing.
The equipment in the LaRC has been upgraded during the year. All the older 286 machines have been replaced with 486 machines. One new high specification 486 was purchased for graphics users or other work requiring extra processing power. All of the older Macs have been replaced. One Mac and one PC now have CD-ROM drives. A flatbed scanner was purchased together with OCR software.
In order to provide continuous cover over the Summer, a temporary job was given to one of the demonstrators.
The following developments are planned for the future:
5.4 Information and Publications
OUCS produces information at a variety of levels: printed User Guides, reference cards, Newsletters, and online information in the form of help systems and via the University Networked Information Service. These all serve different purposes and meet different needs. There has been a gradual shift in emphasis away from printed User Guides (30 Guides published 1993/94; 36 in 1992/93). This is partly in recognition of the fact that suppliers' (and others') reference manuals and textbooks have improved over recent years, obviating the need for OUCS to produce its own detailed Guides, and partly due to the general shift towards online information. One main area, however, where the range of printed documents has increased is in the production of formal course notes to accompany some of the key IT courses provided.
The Newsletter is published 10 times a year; the one noteworthy development has been the inclusion of more articles from bodies outside of OUCS and from outside the University.
The shift away from printed User Guides towards more information being presented online (via either the information service or via the relevant online Help or "man" systems) will continue. It is intended to explore different distribution, archiving, and searching mechanisms for transient information such as online "news" items and the Newsletter.
6. HUMANITIES COMPUTING
6.1 Humanities Centre and Services
The Centre for Humanities Computing exists to provide specialist support and training on software and hardware which has particular relevance to scholars and students in the humanities faculties. It has a resources room at the Banbury Road site, and two members of staff funded by Oxford University (increased to three at the end of Summer 1994). The Centre runs courses and workshops in humanities computing applications, and graduate training days for new post-graduates, and produces documentation and publications on relevant topics. In particular it brings out a short newsletter each term, "Humanities Computing in Oxford", which is sent to all staff and postgraduates in humanities faculties, some 2,000 individuals in all.
The Centre was pleased to secure £31,000 from the University from its Funds to Take IT Strategy Forward programme to enable it to set up a Humanities Resources Service. It has so far purchased the PAT text analysis software from the University of Waterloo and a CD-ROM production unit which it plans to make available to the humanities faculties.
The Centre has a constantly updated and rapidly growing World Wide Web service which allows easy access to the humanities computing resources of the world.
With the increase in staff numbers, it is hoped the CHC will be able to be more proactive in promoting its services in the coming year, and to seek out areas where it may be able to assist.
6.2 Specially Funded Centres
The CHC also houses a number of outside-funded projects, staff of which also provide help and support to Oxford staff and students, as follows.
CTI Centre for Textual Studies
This is one of 20 subject-specific centres set up to promote, support, and encourage the use of computers in teaching in UK universities. It is staffed by two research officers, and is funded by the HEFCE (until July 1999).
Office for Humanities Communication (OHC)
The main brief of this is to carry out research on matters of current concern among scholars, learned societies, libraries, and publishers relating to humanities communication. The OHC is funded by the British Library Research and Development Division (until July 1996). This supports one research officer and a secretary. Although funded externally, the OHC puts on a series of seminars in Oxford during each academic year entitled "The Humanities in the Electronic Age". These attract outside speakers from all over the world and are always well attended by academics from Oxford and from elsewhere.
The British Library has agreed to fund one research officer for one year from 1 January 1995 to work on the preparation of textual resources to be made available throughout the University and ultimately more widely through the Internet.
Information Technology Training Initiative (ITTI): Hypermedia in Language and
This project is investigating the usefulness of hypermedia in literary and linguistic teaching and research. A report on this topic, "Hypermedia in the Humanities", was published by the project in December 1992. It is also developing teaching and research materials in partnership with academics in Oxford and elsewhere. So far it has developed the Poetry Shell, a hypermedia shell for the easy production of annotated editions of foreign language poetry, and an electronic edition of the Old English poem "The Dream of the Rood" prepared using the Poetry Shell. It is also managing Project Electra: A Resource Base of Women's Writings 1780-1830, which is about to mount a number of texts written by women between these dates on the World Wide Web server managed by the CHC. Training Courses and Workshops are also held. This project has one research officer and is also funded by the HEFCE (until December 1994).
One research officer specialises in a variety of electronic publishing activities, and is funded from a variety of projects. These include developing the database, encoding scheme, and image capture procedure for the Tchalenko and Creswell Archives, consulting on electronic publishing for Cambridge University Press and other publishers, and working on the Canterbury Tales CD-ROM Project.
6.3 Oxford Text Archive and British National Corpus
An expanded "ftp" service on Black, and now Sable, has greatly increased the use made of texts from the Oxford Text Archive (OTA). The new "private" ftp service allows the creation of temporary password-controlled accounts, which are very popular; so much so that distribution of texts on disk or tape is now the exception rather than the rule. During 1993/4, over 2000 titles were distributed, of which only 70 were requested on tape or disk.
Work on converting texts to Text Encoding Initiative format for anonymous ftp access has continued intermittently during the year, with much valued assistance from Bellcore and the University of Virginia. The total number of titles now available is 103, and is probably the biggest SGML-encoded collection of freely-available SGML text on the network. A substantial backlog (some 200 more titles) is waiting for further checking. Accurate statistics for anonymous ftp accesses on Black are difficult to gather and interpret, but during October and November of this year such accesses peaked at around 1500 requests per month for various popular titles (notably the Archive shortlist, the Bible and the Trollope novels).
An event of particular significance was the publication of the ALLC-ACH-ACL Text Encoding Initiative Guidelines in May 1994, after four years' development work on both sides of the Atlantic. The work of the Initiative in defining application standards for a wide range of textual data has provoked considerable public interest, with appreciative notices appearing recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education in the US and more recently in the Economist. OUCS has been closely involved with this project since its inception, and will continue to support the work of the Initiative during the next phase of its activities.
The DTI/SERC funded British National Corpus project also achieved media and other attention, with appearances on BBC Radio and articles in several national papers comparing it with the launch of a similar project at the University of Birmingham in June. The BNC is due for a press launch in early October, by when it is hoped to have the whole of this unique 100 million word lexical resource available to linguistic and other researchers.
In March, following a submission to the Follett committee, OUCS and the Humanities Computing unit of Kings College London were jointly commissioned by the JISC's Libraries Subcommittee to prepare a feasibility study concerning the establishment of a national Arts and Humanities Data Service. It is hoped that one of the outcomes of this study, which will form part of the JISC's input to the Follett Implementation Group for IT (FIGIT), will be to place the funding of the OTA on a more secure footing.
7. OTHER SERVICES
7.1 Offset Printing
The Print section produces a wide spectrum of departmental material that can be grouped into three basic job categories:
During the year, 22 different User Guides (14300 copies, amounting to 258,900 printed pages), 28 separate User Registration/Information documents (amounting to 90,300 printed pages) and 53 departmental administrative jobs (amounting to 161,630 printed pages) were produced in-house. In addition to this, external jobs continued to increase (these are undertaken on a self-financing basis). This year income derived from the external work was over ,18,000, which was 41% up on the 1992/3 billing. This external work not only provides a relatively cheap, high quality, print service to an increasingly wide net of University-associated clients, but it also significantly subsidises the department's internal print costs.
Not only does the section provide an economical, quality printing service, but it is involved in all stages of a document's design and production, and the continuing high quality output is widely recognised. Because of this, external work continues to increase and this will enable us to further reduce the direct running costs - and hence the basic print cost per page, for the internal work.
7.2 Data Centres
The Data Centres in 1 South Parks Road and 17 Banbury Road have remained little-changed during the year. They still have a devoted group of clients. No immediate changes are planned, so long as the demand remains; however, consideration is being given, if adequate security arrangements can be made, to installing some PCs in the Centres to supplement the existing terminals, printers and plotters.
7.3 User Registration
Figure 27: New Users Registered
The first point of contact with OUCS for the majority of people is the User Registration service - and as such this is a very important aspect of OUCS' work and is one that is under constant review. The move to allow undergraduates access to OUCS services (at the start of the 1992/93 session), together with the general increased use of IT, have placed considerable strain on a number of services, high among them being the DEC 5500 Unix system and User Registration. Also, as the range of services offered by OUCS has increased, the need to register all those using OUCS facilities (mainly for licensing problems, but also to ensure only legitimate users are allowed access) has increased. Attempts have been made to streamline the registration procedures as much as possible, with moves such as removing the requirement for an authorising counter-signature for staff and students for whom we already have records, and distinguishing between people applying for a username on one of the central systems and people merely wishing to use some other OUCS service.
There are two developments which should streamline further the registration processes and ease the load on User Registration. The first is a service allowing University staff and students to obtain a username on the new Sable service without any paperwork and without the need to apply to OUCS. This is a service available to any terminal or PC connected to either of the University networks, and so should allow people to obtain a username from their normal point of work. This "newuser" service came into operation at the start of the 1994/95 session. The second development is that of the University Registration Card: when this is in full operation, it should prove sufficient for OUCS to use it as the basis for authorising people to make use of its facilities.
The OUCS "Introductory Pack" was first produced in the year 1992/93 (3000 printed) and was expanded at the beginning of this year (5000 in total printed in 1993/94). The emphasis of the Pack has moved away from being a source of "hard" information (online, and therefore immediate, mechanisms are better for this), towards being a publicity document. The Pack produced for the session 1994/95 gives details of the range of services and facilities offered by OUCS, and points people towards the University Networked Information Service for further details. A variety of brochures and flyers are also produced, which are sent out in quantity to departments and colleges.
The use of publicity has two main functions: ensuring that OUCS' facilities and services are advertised throughout the University, and ensuring that members of the University are aware of the IT options available to them. On this latter point, it is hoped that the coming year will see increased coordination of IT matters within the University, so that staff and students obtain the best IT service possible.
7.5 Microprocessor Hardware Services
The Microprocessor unit is a source of microprocessor hardware expertise for the benefit of other University departments. The staff have very detailed in-depth knowledge of IBM PC compatible hardware and expertise in designing and building data acquisition systems and other hardware. A compact data acquisition product, called OXLAB, has been designed by the unit and eight have been built for use by the Physiology department of the University. Various modifications of the basic design have evolved and work is in hand to produce Mark II, which will run much faster. One member of staff spent much of the year on secondment to Oxford Parallel, part of the Computing Laboratory, working on innovative developments in parallel processing.
The major limitation on the services which can be provided to the University by this unit is the limited staff numbers with which to increase the customer base.
7.6 National Services
There are three UK National Computing Centres offering specialised facilities, for which OUCS acts as "broker". Each offers supercomputing facilities, in particular large-scale vector-processing. Time on the vector-processing machines is allocated for large projects by the Research Councils, but small projects (less than 20 hours per year) are allocated through OUCS. The larger projects are allocated Class 1 time and the smaller projects Class 3 time. Class 3 time is only available at ULCC and MCC.
University of London Computing Centre (ULCC)
At the beginning of the year the Convex computer, Neptune, was upgraded to a Convex C3860 with six processors and 4 Gbytes of memory. Oxford has both Class 1 and Class 3 projects running on the Convex computer at ULCC. During the year ULCC announced a new pilot service: a network-accessible digital archive and filestore, based on a robotic tape system with 6 Terabytes of storage. This project is a collaboration with Convex and E-Systems companies.
Manchester Computing Centre (MCC)
On 1-Sep-93 a Fujitsu VPX240/10 came into service replacing an older Amdahl. The VPX240 has single scalar and vector processors with a peak performance of 2.5 GigaFLOPS, 1 Gbyte of main memory and 1 Gbyte of secondary memory. The scalar service on the Amdahl 5890 at MCC ceased at the end of July 94; there is now no scalar service. Parallel processing is available on a Kendall Square Research KSR1, for which funding is available until July 95.
A datasets service was started at the beginning of 1994, and is being used increasingly by Oxford. This facility is run on a Cray Superserver CS6400. Oxford currently has 29 registered users, making use of the following services:
Atlas Centre at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Didcot (RAL)
RAL runs a Cray YMP8 which is used by some Oxford groups for Class 1 projects.
OUCS provides office accommodation and administrative support to the CTI Support Service (CTISS) and the office of the Association for Learning Technology (ALT). These are useful links, of which little has been made in the past. However, the increasing interest in and developments in the use of computers in teaching, at Oxford and nationally (eg through the Teaching & Learning Technology Projects), suggests that OUCS should provide more support for the use of IT in teaching throughout the University (it already does some in the humanities); the associations with CTISS and ALT could then become much more valuable.
8. USAGE AND PERFORMANCE STATISTICS
8.1 Network Activity
The figures obtained for traffic on the FDDI backbone to date have been obtained by setting up the FDDI Sniffer analyser and reading off the percentage utilisation. Regular statistics will not be automatically collected by the network management system until the application software from 3Com for Netbuilders is mounted under SunNet manager. This was due mid-September 1994. OUCS is also looking at a separate package for FDDI statistics.
In the meantime the readings from the FDDI Sniffer show that the traffic averaged over 24 hours is about 1%. Visual observation of the dynamic utilisation during the day indicates that the maximum over a short period does not exceed 3 to 4%.
Averaged Weekday Traffic (Mchars/day)
Month/year From Ox. To Ox. FT-Relay Total Oct 86 13.5 20.7 0 34.2 Nov 87 15.8 31.9 0 47.7 May 88 26.8 32.5 0 59.3 Sep 88 13.3 36.7 0 50.0 Jan 89 22.0 35.0 0 57.0 May 89 22.4 41.7 0 64.1 Oct 89 46.3 63.6 0 109.9 Jan 90 37.8 69.3 0 107.1 Jan 92 162.5 357.9 221 520.4 Oct 92 343.2 520.7 ? 863.9 Jan 93 477.6 799.2 490 1276.8 Jul 93 479.3 1066.2 182 1545.5 Aug 93 449.9 1005.9 131 1455.8 Sep 93 529.3 1269.5 148 1798.8 Oct 93 538.4 1353.1 133 1891.5 Nov 93 556.4 1225.5 214 1781.9 Dec 93 827.5 1661.5 160 2489.0 Jan 94 732.7 1194.2 174 1926.9 Feb 94 725.8 1234.6 227 1960.4 Mar 94 634.7 1216.1 221 1850.8 Apr 94 737.3 1438.1 126 2175.4
(1) Sample period ranges between 5-28 consecutive working days (ie a week and a month).
(2) Figures include traffic carried on Janet and the Internet before Oxford started to use SuperJanet in May 1994.
(3) The figures include files sent through FT-Relay, which OUCS runs as a national service, funded by UKERNA, for the UK academic community.
Statistics for the Oxmail server. These represent average daily traffic over a 32-day period in Aug/Sep 94. "% through" figures give an indication of the delays caused by queuing - however, they also include messages which could not be delivered for long periods because of network breaks to the destination (which is why some take more than 1 day).
Variable Mean Std Dev Minimum Maximum Number of messages 10,532 4,467 3156 16,203 Kilobytes 143,796 327,807 11,028 1,412,177 % through in 1 min 90.72 4.36 76.50 97.00 % through in 5 min 94.23 3.85 80.50 98.50 % through in 1 hour 97.78 2.06 89.00 99.50 % through in 1 day 99.20 0.46 97.50 100.00
|Number of registered dial-in users (Sep 94):||760|
|Number of active (ie used > 0 times) dial-in users:||593|
|Number of lines:||10|
|Number of calls taken 1-Jan-94 to 30-Nov-94:||101,706|
|Average daily number of calls over this period:||305|
|Av. daily calls||263||297||285||263||309||299||281||278||290||363||401|
Mail and News on Vax
Statistics have only recently been collected. The following therefore are indicative only of levels of usage (bearing in mind they represent periods during the Summer vacation).
4-weeks Email out* Email in* Newsgroups Items Items Users ending # Mbytes # Mbytes accessed read* posted active 18/7/94 1920 4.8 5154 19.9 732 2921 671 ? 15/8/94 1771 5.1 4888 16.8 848 5816 510 ? 12/9/94 1460 5.9 4560 19.0 2715 5239 581 952
* daily average
8.2 User Services
Numbers of Registered Users
Service as at 1/8/93 created during year deleted during year as at 1/8/94 Vax 4775 2039 1510 5304 Black 632 1290 38 1884 Convex 195 40 17 218 Dial-in 2 665 0 667
Course Modules Bookings 93/94 92/93 93/94 92/93 Background courses 40 36 935 837 Operating systems and networks 129 92 2073 1567 Applications (ex Word Proc) 81 92 918 1108 WordPerfect 60 53 759 955 Programming 16 14 428 372 Totals 326 287 5113 4839
The main increase is in the number of operating system and networking courses, due to the introduction of Windows and the new file transfer and Internet courses.
no. of callers % no. per week 93/94 92/93 93/94 92/93 93/94 92/93 In person 4404 4671 47.6 50.8 86 92 By phone 2320 2409 25.1 26.2 45 47 By email 2526 2113 27.3 23.0 50 41 Total 9250 9193 181 180
For the "In person" and "By phone" callers, the following gives a breakdown of the nature of their query(ies); data are not available for the email callers:
no. of queries % 93/94 92/93 93/94 92/93 Vax 2757 3238 38.6 43.7 Micro 3186 3442 44.9 46.5 Unix 640 359 9.0 4.8 Other 512 371 7.2 5.0 Total 7095 7410 Average queries/caller 1.055 1.047
Internal External Year Sales £ Sales £ Total £ Increase % 90/91 21,351 168,752 190,103 171 91/92 152,904 225,951 378,855 99 92/93 184,462 241,099 425,561 12 93/94 318,113 298,827 616,940 45
Term Usage* Printing Receipts £ Michaelmas 300 773.49 Hilary 285 839.00 Trinity 275 1,230.52 Summer (to date) 163 569.13 Totals 1,023 3,412.14
* these are underestimates due to the limitations of the accounting system.
8.3 Mainframe Usage and Performance
Vax Usage for Year Ending 18th July 1994
Interactive jobs Batch jobs Total Disk (MB) no. CPU no. CPU Hours quota usage Hours Hours at 18/7/94 Chemistry 151587 274 42582 712 986 1633 1355 Physics 116980 275 21879 2123 2398 3389 1838 Other Physical Sci. 125682 172 30315 1537 1709 1800 1671 Mathematics 86711 339 51009 1932 2271 868 728 Biological Sciences 134652 179 8061 107 286 1566 1302 Medical Sciences 198916 249 17154 110 359 5394 3582 Social Sciences 148758 321 29582 455 776 6211 5248 Humanities 273707 276 23254 69 345 3460 2452 Undergraduates 145 0 8 0 0 5 4 Other Acad. Users 21508 19 1245 3 22 321 184 Non-Acad. Users 49582 85 4658 18 103 1467 1050 Computing Services 50524 105 16407 23 129 1004 940 System Overheads 19696 130 458737 2778 2908 7359 4760 ============================================================================== Totals 1378448 2424 704891 9868 12292 34474 25115
Vax Usage for Year Ending 19th July 1993
Interactive jobs Batch jobs Total Disk (MB) no. CPU no. CPU Hours quota usage Hours Hours at 19/7/93 Chemistry 149942 306 58903 1183 1489 1433 1212 Physics 117519 399 34772 4683 5082 2415 2163 Other Physical Sci. 120502 206 20385 1084 1290 1750 1479 Mathematics 106787 439 63097 2644 3083 887 816 Biological Sciences 118198 153 12120 236 389 2066 1442 Medical Sciences 141750 197 17593 142 339 3618 2739 Social Sciences 96409 257 30886 435 692 5183 4427 Humanities 190402 209 18951 66 275 2848 2076 Other Acad. Users 26076 27 1646 3 30 211 98 Non-Academic Users 42529 77 3598 14 91 1341 888 Computing Services 51293 104 15175 21 126 1049 823 System Overheads 19354 102 843124 1626 1728 6285 376 ============================================================================== Totals 1180761 2476 1120250 12137 14612 29086 21925
Black (DEC 5500) Usage for Year Ending 18th July 1994
Sessions CPU Usage Disk Use at 18/7/94 (MB) hours quota usage Chemistry 4272 31 52 20 Physics 3073 248 97 26 Other Physical Sciences 6135 144 168 39 Mathematics 6469 726 171 43 Biological Sciences 9141 160 153 35 Medical Sciences 7569 128 172 42 Social Sciences 11762 40 148 56 Humanities 17965 91 381 79 Undergraduates 238098 2193 1604 543 Other Academic Users 6076 82 75 14 Non-Academic Users 6238 16 130 28 Computing Services 9473 367 613 210 System Overheads 1113 949 60 102 ================================================================== Totals 327384 5175 3824 1237
Black (DEC 5500) Usage Year Ending 19th July 1993
Sessions CPU Usage Disk Use at 19/7/93 (MB) hours quota usage Chemistry 1928 122 43 19 Physics 3382 338 57 21 Other Physical Sciences 5103 101 117 26 Mathematics 4808 928 153 36 Biological Sciences 3505 370 89 24 Medical Sciences 2982 51 75 22 Social Sciences 3716 21 77 36 Humanities 4365 115 134 37 Undergraduates 79688 1167 359 115 Other Academic Users 8779 195 66 25 Non-Academic Users 2410 63 48 4 Computing Services * 12673 3428 460 155 System Overheads 879 410 52 143 ================================================================== Totals 134218 7309 1730 663
Convex Usage for Year Ending 18th July 1994
Sessions CPU Usage (hrs) Disk Use at 18/7/94 (MB) interactive batch batch total quota usage Chemistry 8691 7793 3376 3506 56 39 Physics 3916 6875 2626 2658 42 23 Other Physical Sciences 2254 12663 5387 5426 37 20 Mathematics 643 5708 2957 2965 7 4 Biological Sciences 768 7 9 18 8 4 Medical Sciences 81 7 0 1 1 1 Social Sciences 156 98 449 454 2 1 Humanities 0 0 0 0 0 0 Other Academic Users 291 0 0 0 0 0 Non-Academic Users 0 0 0 0 1 0 Computing Services 2892 397 87 187 187 153 System Overheads 1698 0 0 227 22 17 ================================================================================= Totals 21390 33548 14891 1544 2 363 262
Convex Usage for Year Ending 19th July 1993
Sessions CPU Usage (hrs) Disk Use at 19/7/93 (MB) interactive batch batch total quota usage Chemistry 6833 18793 3231 3360 57 45 Physics 5949 15904 5818 5822 41 22 Other Physical Sciences 4306 20675 4027 4077 38 20 Mathematics 1371 23499 1427 1467 10 4 Biological Sciences 728 139 148 150 7 3 Medical Sciences 278 69 3 18 8 1 Social Sciences 519 650 394 453 3 2 Humanities 0 0 0 0 0 0 Other Academic Users 399 0 0 3 10 0 Non-Academic Users 60 0 0 0 4 0 Computing Services 3647 245 5 86 165 121 System Overheads 2296 10 0 395 23 16 =================================================================================== Totals 26386 79984 15053 15831 366 234
Vax Workload and Availability 1993/4
Workload ---> Availability ---> Prime Time No. MTBI MTTR 4 weeks Interactive Batch Total DEC Ov'al Shift lost of Hrs Hrs ending Jobs Hrs Jobs Hrs Hrs % % % Hrs breaks 16-Aug-93 88780 180 52750 986 1166 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 13-Sep-93 78361 155 59922 1096 1251 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 11-Oct-93 96778 177 51018 1069 1246 99.8 99.7 99.2 2.2 1 670 1.1 08-Nov-93 113707 200 53134 821 1021 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 06-Dec-93 116270 192 53489 845 1037 99.5 99.5 97.9 3.4 3 223 1.1 03-Jan-94 71947 129 41850 579 708 99.9 99.9 99.4 1.0 1 671 1.0 31-Jan-94 105141 185 51891 540 725 98.8 98.3 95.5 11.7 4 165 2.1 28-Feb-94 126727 230 59795 654 884 99.7 99.5 98.0 3.4 3 223 1.1 28-Mar-94 123917 211 58949 554 765 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 25-Apr-94 97395 186 62753 533 719 99.1 98.5 95.4 10.2 4 166 1.0 23-May-94 127202 209 57969 615 824 99.4 99.4 99.0 4.3 2 334 1.9 20-Jun-94 124558 199 52683 559 758 99.3 99.3 98.1 4.6 2 334 2.3 18-Jul-94 107667 171 48688 1017 1188 99.2 99.2 98.8 5.4 3 223 1.8 ===================================================================================================== Total 1378450 2424 704891 9868 12292 99.6 99.5 98.6 46.2 23 378 1.5
Black Workload and Availability 1993/4
Workload ---> Availability ---> Prime Time No. MTBI MTTR 4 weeks Interactive DEC Ov'al Shift lost of Hrs Hrs ending Jobs Hrs % % % Hrs breaks 16-Aug-93 5617 439.1 99.9 99.9 99.7 0.6 2 336 0.3 13-Sep-93 4805 370.4 99.9 99.6 98.4 2.5 1 670 0.5 11-Oct-93 9435 267.7 100.0 100.0 100.0 0.3 1 671 0.3 08-Nov-93 25904 345.9 96.7 96.7 98.6 22.2 6 650 3.7 06-Dec-93 37477 315.2 99.1 99.1 96.8 6.0 6 111 0.7 03-Jan-94 10225 520.3 99.8 99.8 99.6 1.7 1 670 0.1 31-Jan-94 15132 507.0 99.6 99.6 99.0 2.6 1 669 0.5 28-Feb-94 46709 513.4 99.7 99.7 98.9 2.1 4 170 0.5 28-Mar-94 32651 486.9 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 25-Apr-94 19845 306.2 99.2 99.2 99.7 5.3 1 667 5.3 23-May-94 41337 585.2 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 20-Jun-94 48510 467.4 99.7 99.7 98.9 1.7 2 335 0.9 18-Jul-94 15231 237.4 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - ===================================================================================== Total 312878 5362.2 99.5 99.5 99.2 45.1 25 348 1.5
Convex Workload and Availability 1993/4
Workload ---> Availability ---> Prime Time No. MTBI MTTR 4 weeks Interactive Batch Total C'vex Ov'al Shift lost of Hrs Hrs ending Jobs Hrs Jobs Hrs Hrs % % % Hrs breaks 16-Aug-93 1516 43 2326 1193 1236 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 13-Sep-93 1200 46 2021 1204 1250 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 11-Oct-93 1585 40 4543 1195 1235 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 08-Nov-93 1699 34 1655 1162 1195 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 06-Dec-93 1771 48 5661 1276 1324 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 03-Jan-94 1143 43 1712 1230 1273 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 31-Jan-94 1779 32 1841 1225 1258 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 28-Feb-94 1914 42 1833 1100 1141 100.0 99.8 99.3 1.1 1 671 1.1 28-Mar-94 1722 83 1628 938 1021 97.2 96.4 92.9 24.1 6 110 3.2 25-Apr-94 1493 117 1983 998 1115 99.8 99.8 99.0 1.5 1 671 1.5 23-May-94 2082 73 2979 1167 1240 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 20-Jun-94 1724 63 2217 1197 1260 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - 18-Jul-94 1873 39 3131 991 1030 100.0 100.0 100.0 0 0 - - ====================================================================================================== Total 21501 701 33530 14875 15577 99.8 99.7 99.3 26.7 8 1089 2.7
MBTI = Mean Time Between Interruptions to users' service, from whatever cause.
MTTR = Mean Time To Restore service to users.
Availability: "DEC"/"C'vex" indicates the % lack of availability of service to users where DEC or Convex (as system maintenance/software contractors) are responsible for restoring service.
"Ov'al" indicates % availability to users overall (regardless of cause of unavailability).
"Prime Shift" indicates lack of availability from any cause during the weekday hours 8am to 6pm.
9. STAFF ESTABLISHMENT (as at 27-Sep-94)
|Personnel Officer/Director's Secretary|
|Tricia Massey||Jenny Aitken|
|Lindsey Mills||Margaret Smith|
|SYSTEMS and OPERATIONS GROUP - Alan Gay, Group Manager|
Unix & Graphics
Deputy Operations Manager
|USER SERVICE GROUP - Linda Hayes, Group Manager|
Software & Media Support
User Services Assistant
Library Mary Franks
Micros and Publishing
Learning & Resources Centre
George Street Reception
Computing in the Humanities
|ADMINISTRATION GROUP - Keith Moulden, Administrator|
Staff Movements 1-Aug-93 to 31-Jul-94
Staff Leaving Date Replaced by Date Director Alex Reid 01.10.93 Caroline Davis (CTI Support Officer) 13.08.93 Lorna Hughes 31.08.93 Pauline Parker (Computer Operator) 13.08.93 Vacant Susan Gianni (CTI Secretary) 17.09.93 Mari Gill* 25.10.93 Mark Hylton (Computer Operator) 17.09.93 Mark Watson 13.09.93 Sherisse Smelser (Teaching Officer) 30.09.93 Jane Littlehales 04.01.94 Jinghong Zhang (Computer Operator) 31.12.93 John Fernandes* 05.04.94 Ian Griggs (Micro Adviser) [transfer] 14.01.94 Nicolas Christie 17.01.94 Anita Sabin (KDEM Operator) 25.03.94 Post Abolished Dominic Dunlop (British National Corpus) 01.04.94 Project Terminating Tony Barber (Network Operations) 03.06.94 Vacant Glynis Baguley (British National Corpus) 30.06.94 Project Terminating Alan Morrison (Oxford Text Archive) 30.06.94 Glynis Baguley* 01.07.94 Nicola Trimbell (ITTI Project Officer) 30.06.94 Alan Morrison* 01.07.94 Harvey Ellam (Network Technician) 29.07.94 Vacant Dennis Cantell (Cleaner/Stores) 31.07.93 Jimmy Gordon 01.08.93
New Positions Date Chris Mullings (Office for Humanities Communication Project)* 01.08.93 Doreen Perks (Accounts Clerk) 01.11.93 Ian Plummer (Micro Network Adviser) 04.01.94 Derick Carter (Molecular Biology Data Centre) 18.07.94 Ian Griggs (Micro Network Adviser) 17.01.94* Temporary or Limited-Term Appointments