Reports to the President 1994-95
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.
- I/T process leaders focus on the work dimension: Greg Anderson is the
Director, I/T Discovery; Roger Roach is the Director of I/T Service; Cecilia
d'Oliveira is Director of I/T Support; and Susan Minai-Azary is the Director of
I/T Integration. The search for the Director of I/T Delivery continues.
- I/T competency group leaders concentrate on the skills dimension: Tim
McGovern and Shirley Picardi are Directors of I/T Competency Groups. A third
I/T competency group leader will be appointed early in fiscal 1996.
- Leaders of I/T practices focus on customer advocacy: Diane Devlin is the
Director of Office Computing; and Greg Jackson remains the Director of Academic
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
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:
- ACS continued to encourage new instructional use of Athena. Diverse uses of
World Wide Web services, new uses of commercial software packages in diverse
subjects, and widespread use of on-line handouts, course lockers, and similar
instructional resources enhanced ACS's educational benefit to the Institute.
- During the year, ACS continued to enlarge the suite of third-party software
available to Athena users. A wide array of current third-party software was
upgraded. In collaboration with the MIT Libraries, ACS made both the
Oxford English Dictionary and the Encyclopedia Britannica
available on Athena and other networked computers at MIT.
- ACS also expanded and upgraded existing electronic classrooms and other
instructional facilities. In another successful partnership with the MIT
Libraries, ACS helped to add of a fourth electronic classroom (E53-220) in
- In fiscal year 1995, ACS continued the systematic renewal of Athena
equipment, replacing hundreds of outdated workstations with faster, color
workstations which were chosen after an extensive competitive-bidding process.
As a result, all public Athena workstations are now very capable machines.
- The ACS Visitors Center continued to provide specific details of MIT's
academic computing to visitors from many states, countries, institutions,
ranks, and interests. Similarly, ACS made presentations on Athena and MIT
academic computing at local and national conferences.
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
- ASD delivered all components of the new Physical Plant computing system, a
system which incorporates capabilities for labor, accounting, and utilities.
After completing system and user acceptance tests, as well as a full parallel
test, the new Plant system was implemented on July 1. At the close of fiscal
year 1995, the old Plant computing system performed its final run.
- Also during this year, ASD developed a prototype data warehouse. In
conjunction with many administrative officers and Personnel staff, an ASD team
developed a Query Facility which allows administrators to secure academic
personnel data from the warehouse. Pilot testing for this facility is planned
for July 1995.
- ASD expanded the scope of Database Services by adding the Oracle database
to its suite of supported databases, and by working to certify all its Database
Analysts (DBAs) in Oracle.
- In a joint undertaking with Distributed Computing and Network Services
(DCNS), ASD developed a lottery system for students to select Freshman Housing
via an Athena interface. Currently, ASD is developing a similar lottery system
for athletic activities. The athletic lottery is expected to be implemented in
- In conjunction with the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP), ASD has been
developing an awards management system. A prototype is currently available,
and Release 1.0 will be implemented in September.
- In addition, ASD provided many resources for the reengineering efforts
including: SAP database work, SAP data administration, Information
Technology ("R-Ready") Infrastructure redesign and implementation, Appointments
Process (TAP) implementation, and TAP Query Facility (TQF) implementation.
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:
- In its eleventh year of operation, the MIT Computer Connection (MCC)
reached its highest revenue total, $14 million, and its highest total unit
sales, 3,465 units. During the year, the MCC continued to sell
aggressively-priced Athena workstations through the Purchasable Workstation
Program, among other products recommended for student use. Working with the
Supplier Consolidation and Desk-I/T reengineering teams, the MCC piloted the
Save-A-Bundle sales program. This program, which delivered
specifically-packaged computing hardware and software to the community,
bolstered the MCC's year-end revenue numbers by $1.7 million, while saving
buyers some $0.5 million over then-current prices. In the process, the MCC
secured a greater awareness of reengineering-recommended desktop units within
the MIT community.
- CSS Consulting (CSSC) continued to provide Macintosh, DOS/Windows, and
Athena technical support, in addition to consulting and user-account services
to the MIT community. Help was provided on-line, by telephone, and in person.
Meanwhile, CSSC continued to encourage clients towards self-sufficiency
attained by developing self-help resources, user groups, local experts, and
other outreach programs. The CSS Access Technology for Information and
Computing (ATIC) Lab provided adaptive technology recommendations.
- CSS Computer Services (CS) is a support organization for users of DEC,
Sun, and Silicon Graphics workstations. It is also a repair facility for Apple
and IBM PC computers and Hewlett-Packard printers. CS provides key hardware
and software support services to a diverse constituency of users on campus, at
Lincoln Lab, and at other remote sites. During FY 1995, CS implemented the
Silicon Graphics Varsity program, which provides discounted software and
hardware maintenance for Silicon Graphics workstations.
- To support MIT's reengineering efforts, Training and Publication Services
(TPS) staff members actively participated on numerous reengineering teams.
Apart from their work for reengineering, TPS staff continued their work for
Information Systems. Their most significant accomplishment in the publications
area was the effort to make many paper documents accessible in electronic
format via the World Wide Web. During the year, TPS documents won three awards
from national professional organizations. Attendance at hands-on courses,
Quick Start sessions, and noon-time demos continued to be strong. Over the
year, close to 5,000 students attended Athena Mini-courses on 14 topics.
- The Director's Office continued its role of coordinating services
throughout CSS. Fulfilling part of this role, it reviewed, negotiated, and
approved vendor software license agreements.
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:
- In collaboration with Telecommunications System (Telecom) and Computing
Support Services (CSS), DCNS introduced Tether on May 1, 1995. This new
service provides dial-up access to MITnet from off-campus locations via
Point-to-Point (PPP) and Appletalk Remote Access (ARA ) communication
- Also working with Telecom, DCNS helped in the extension of the residential
computing network (Resnet) to several graduate dormitories in September 1994.
Resnet will be available in all graduate dormitories by fall 1995.
- In collaboration with Academic Computing Services (ACS) and CSS, DCNS
focused on the evolution of Athena software and hardware. New initiatives
included a release of Athena software for Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations
and a planned deployment of hundreds of new SGI and Sun workstations during the
summer and fall of 1995 to renew obsolete equipment.
- In a partnership with the MIT Libraries, DCNS continued work on the
Distributed Library Initiative, an effort to radically improve electronic
library services available over MITnet. Progress this year included the
development of an image browser that provides on-line access to the full-text
of a limited set of scientific journals as part of a multi-campus research
- DCNS worked with other Information Systems groups to begin implementing a
new long-term strategy for MIT's on-line campus information service based on
World Wide Web technology. As part of the new strategy, a Campus Wide
Information System (CWIS) Facilitator was appointed in July 1994 to promote the
evolution of CWIS, and to assist MIT offices in their use of the Web. This
decision was validated by the rapid growth of Web use at MIT and elsewhere over
the last twelve months, growth which has been both phenomenal and unprecedented.
- DCNS staff participated intensively in numerous MIT reengineering projects
and teams, including Supplier Consolidation, Information Technology (I/T)
Transformation, I/T Infrastructure Readiness, I/T Help, Maintenance and Repair,
and the Appointment Process (TAP).
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:
- This year, O&S did an extensive review of its mainframe service
delivery processes. The goal of the review was to achieve significant
reductions in the cost of providing mainframe services while providing equal or
better services. Processes such as the way output was delivered and the way
the mainframe operating system (VM) was maintained were scrutinized.
- The result of these and other review activities was a restructuring that
yielded a 30% reduction in the Fiscal 1996 budget for mainframe services -- a
savings of over $1 million to the Institute's bottom line. Other freed
resources were applied to the Institute's reengineering project.
- As part of its core business, Data Center Operations, O&S kept
supported systems up and running 99.8% of the time; responded to over 5000
help desk calls; ran nearly 30,000 production jobs; mounted 132,000 tapes;
and printed over 170,000 files that amounted to a total of 14 million pages.
- Another of O&S's accomplishments this year was the upgrade and
continued support of the mainframe. The IBM 9121 mainframe computer continues
to serve many of MIT's critical business systems. To provide continually
improving performance, reliability, and availability, its main memory capacity
was doubled, and new "fault tolerant" disk technology was installed. (These
upgrades were accomplished with minimal cost to the Institute.) O&S also
implemented a Kerberized VM telnet server to provide secured access to the
mainframe, and upgraded the VM operating system. Further, a successful
Business Continuity test was conducted in conjunction with Payroll and
Administrative Systems Development (ASD), to verify the Institute's ability to
produce a payroll in `disaster mode.'
- The Facilities Management group supports eight departments by housing and
maintaining their 16 dedicated computer systems, including the new Student
Information System. This year, the group installed and configured the GEAC
- Throughout the year, significant O&S resources were devoted to
reengineering projects such as Infrastructure Readiness ("R-Ready"), the
Appointments Process (TAP), Mail, and Management Reporting. O&S is helping
to examine the processes inherent in these areas, and is also helping to
specify, install, and maintain new systems that will become the backbone of the
reengineered processes. Systems installed include the SAP R/3 Management
Reporting system, the People Database system, the Appointments Process system,
and the OSP Award system. Finally, Mandarin's version control component is
being prepared for production use to facilitate the updating of individual
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:
- During the year, Telecom implemented rate reductions effective January 1,
1995 which reduced the cost of local Boston area telephone calls by $0.03 each.
Domestic long distance telephone rates were reduced by 20%. Taken together,
these rate reductions resulted in an annual savings of $500,000 for the MIT
- In August 1994, Telecom implemented MIT 5ESS telephone and MITnet services
in Tang Hall and Edgerton House. Similar services will be implemented in
Eastgate and Westgate in August 1995.
- At the end of September 1994, Telecom upgraded the MIT 5ESS generic
software to 5E6, and several months later to 5E8. Telecom plans to upgrade the
generic software to 5E9 at the end of July 1995, and to implement a Primary
Rate Interface (PRI) in August 1995. PRI will facilitate applications like
remote access, and will enable improved communications between the main MIT
campus and its remote components, such as the Lincoln Lab. PRI is the first
step in a migration strategy of providing interconnectivity of the MIT 5ESS
with the digital public switched-network, also known as the Signaling System 7
- Working with MIT-Lincoln Laboratory and Teleport Communications
Group/Boston, Telecom installed single-mode fiber optic cables to interconnect
buildings 35, 36, and 9. Buildings 35 and 36 are part of a three-point fiber
optic network between the MIT campus, Lincoln Laboratory, and DEC's Littleton
facility, a network which enables the testing and evaluation of wave-length
division-multiplexing equipment designed and fabricated at the Lincoln
- During fiscal year 1995, Telecom also participated in a number of
videoconferencing applications. Working with the Center for Advanced
Engineering Study (CAES) and others, the department successfully completed a
videoconference trial with the NHK Television Network of Japan. This
successful trial was followed by a CAES videoconference highlighting MIT which
was broadcast to Japanese television viewers on Christmas day 1995. Another
trial, under the auspices of the Sloan School, involved the interoperability of
British Telecom videoconferencing units sited locally at the Endicott House,
with a remote site in London, England. Another trial involved a consortium of
universities, including MIT, sponsored by the Department of Defense. This last
trial aimed to establish the feasibility of a videoconferencing network and
application sharing, and to demonstrate its use in the design studio of the
- In partnership with Campus Police and Physical Plant among others, Telecom
initiated a program to enhance security in campus parking garages and lots.
The department continued to install emergency telephones to ensure the safety
of the MIT community.
- Also during fiscal year 1995, Telecom signed agreements with Cellular One
and NYNEX Mobile. Both agreements resulted in reduced cellular telephone rates
for the MIT community.
- In collaboration with Physical Plant and Distributed Computing &
Network Services (DCNS), Telecom began a project to enhance telephone closets
throughout the campus. To date, telephone closets in approximately 30
buildings have been enhanced.
Reports to the President 1994-95