MIT Reports to the President 1994-95

Vice President for Information Systems

Information Systems (IS) strives to enable members of the Institute community to use information technology more productively in all their work. IS focuses both on services for everyone -- such as telephones and connections to the campus network --as well as on serving specific constituencies of academic computing and administrative computing. Again this year, staff in the six IS departments worked with others throughout the Institute in ongoing activities and new initiatives. They achieved a wide range of accomplishments, some of which are highlighted in the department reports which follow. This report presents an IS overview.

Had this been an ordinary year, the contributions of the IS staff would be noteworthy. Use of MIT's information technology resources continue to grow. For example, the 5ESS phone system was extended to Tang Hall and Edgerton House. Over 500 network installations were completed, including 1,500 new connections in MIT offices and laboratories. The Athena Computing Environment was used by over 10,000 different users on peak days. MIT Computer Connection's annual sales reached $14 million, the highest total in its eleven year history. Major projects were completed including the Physical Plant System; upgrades to the 5ESS switch; the addition of a fourth electronic classroom; introduction of the Tether service, providing dial-up access to MITnet from off-campus; and the TULIP service, providing online access to page images of materials science journals. Two efforts yielded substantial savings. A restructuring of our mainframe service delivery processes resulted in a 30% reduction in the Fiscal 1996 budget for mainframe services, saving over $1 million. Telephone rate reductions this year resulted in an annual savings of $500,000 for the MIT community.

However, this year has been far from ordinary. IS staff have also been deeply involved in efforts to reengineer the Institute's administrative processes. Some have been doing business process redesign as leaders and members of reengineering redesign teams. Some provide computing and communications support for redesign teams. Many are now involved in transforming the way the Institute does information technology work. Last August, the I/T Transformation Team was chartered, as one of the initial reengineering teams, to redesign the way staff at the Institute work together to run, build, and help others use information technology. This team, drawn from offices across the Institute, devised a framework to meet the challenge of delivering "great systems fast" and supporting dramatic increases in network-based applications and users expected to arise from other reengineering initiatives, all without increasing the number of I/T positions. The new framework is designed so that the Institute's I/T resources can effectively enable reengineering, as well as the overall Institute mission. In March 1995, senior officers announced the launch of the I/T Transformation to the Institute's I/T staff - all of IS and those in other central offices with I/T responsibilities.

The new I/T framework has three dimensions supporting teams - work, skills, and customers. The first step in the transition to the new framework was a search to appoint a new I/T leadership team. The team is led by the Vice President for Information Systems, and has responsibility for ensuring successful results on all three dimensions. At the end of May, several appointments were announced, to become effective July 1, 1995.

With Marilyn McMillan serving as captain for implementing the transformation, the I/T leadership team aims to complete the transition of Information Systems to the new framework by December 1995, and the transition of the other central administrative I/T efforts to the new framework by June 1996. The I/T leadership team and the IS staff

are committed to learn our way into working in the new framework, and to ensure that the new framework works for us, for our customers, and for the Institute.

James D. Bruce


Academic Computing Services (ACS) seeks to improve MIT education through the effective use of computers and other information technologies. ACS provides direct support to faculty members interested in instructional computing. The department acquires and deploys third-party software for faculty and student use, and hosts hundreds of visits to MIT from individuals and organizations worldwide who are interested in MIT's academic computing services. Working with other Information Systems groups and with academic departments, ACS develops, deploys, and maintains public and departmental computing facilities. Included in this number are the machines that make up the Athena Computing Environment, an environment which is used by thousands of users each day and over 10,000 different users on peak days. Through advocacy, training, documentation, and consulting services, ACS and its collaborators support instruction in individual subjects, individual academic work, and extensive communication among faculty, students, and staff. During 1994-95:

Gregory A. Jackson


In fiscal year 1995, Administrative Systems Development (ASD) continued its mission to provide application development and related services, in partnership with administrative units, that support MIT's research, educational, and business needs. During the past year, ASD expanded application development, database support, and technical writing and training services to support more administrative units within the Institute. In particular, ASD focused its resources on projects which yielded business value:

Kathleen R. Cibotti


Throughout fiscal year 1995, the mission of Computing Support Services (CSS) continued to be the delivery of exemplary end-user support to MIT faculty and students, as well as administrative and research staff. The department's services include the sales and service of computing equipment; training, consulting, and publications; and software license evaluation and distribution. By promoting both individual career development and team goals, CSS maintained a staff whose enthusiastic and dedicated professionalism were essential to the department's accomplishments:

Daniel M. Weir


Distributed Computing and Network Services (DCNS) works with other Information Systems departments to provide campus-wide information technologies that serve the MIT community.

Use of DCNS products and services continued to grow by almost every visible metric again this year. For example, traffic on the campus-wide computer network backbone (in terms of average kilobytes per day) increased by 74%. On an average day, central electronic mail servers delivered 150,000 mail messages (40% growth) to a total of over 300,000 recipients. Further, DCNS staff coordinated over 500 network installation projects which included 1,500 unshielded twisted-pair Ethernet (UTPE) connections in MIT offices and laboratories. The number of DCNS-managed UTPE connections in MIT offices and laboratories was 3,295 by the end of the year.

As well, a number of significant milestones were reached during the year:

Cecilia R. d'Oliveira


The mission of Operations and Systems (O&S) is to provide a central computing facility with technological leadership that delivers efficient, high-quality services that support the Institute's business needs. O&S activities this fiscal year can be generally categorized as efficiency review, data center operations, mainframe upgrade and support, facilities management, and reengineering support:

Roger A. Roach


Telecommunications Systems (Telecom) provides integrated telecommunications services, including the 5ESS digital switching system for voice and data communications, and the installation and maintenance of all telephone, fax, and voice-mail services throughout MIT. Besides supporting data-communications installation and maintenance, Telecom also operates MIT's cable television service and manages MIT's radio systems. Fiscal year 1995 was a productive one for Telecommunications Systems:

Morton Berlan

MIT Reports to the President 1994-95