EECS Instructional Support, University of California at Berkeley
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                          College of Engineering
                     EECS Instructional Support Group

								 Oct 22 2010

              EECS Instructional Computing - Review and Plans
		                Fall 2010

	Mission Statement
	ISG Organizational Scope
	New Lab for Parallel Computing
	Budget Cuts
	Current Concerns
	Current Development Goals
	Funding Wish List
	Notable Events

Mission Statement

  The EECS Instructional Support Group (ISG) installs and maintains networked 
  computers that are used by EECS classes.  ISG provides computer accounts for 
  instructors and students in the Instructional labs and on Instructional 
  servers.  ISG purchases, installs and maintains application software needed 
  for classes.  ISG supports instructional labs in Cory Hall, Soda Hall and 
  Sutardja-Ddai Hall.

  ISG wishes to meet the computing needs of instructors and students in EECS 
  courses and to provide support for new and innovative learning environments.
  We wish to be accessible and responsive to requests for service.  We also
  wish to learn about new and interesting technologies that may be of value 
  in this service.

ISG Organizational Scope

  These are the functions in which ISG interacts with other UCB support groups:

  - we use EECS department services (IDSG) for Active Directory, disk space, 
    network access and security scans
  - we synchronize our user accounts with the EECS department (IDSG)
  - we obtain enrollment lists from the Registrar (Student Information Services)
  - we provide cardkey pre-authorization for our students to EECS Facilities
  - we bill students' voluntary printer charges to CARS
  - we coordinate our use of the EECS Network Node Bank with IDSG and CNS
  - we manage the computers in engineering labs with ESG 
  - we manage the computers in EECS conference rooms with ESG 
  - we manage the licenses for Synopsys/TCAD/HSPICE with the Device Group
  - we manage the licenses for Cadence with the BSAC group
  - we manage the licenses for Maya and Renderman with the BCAM group

New Lab for Parallel Computing

  Thanks to generous support from Prof Yelick and Intel, we have obtained 
  28 new Dell Precision T5500 Workstations in 330 Soda for use by CS194-15 
  (Engineering Parallel Software) and other classes (August 2010).

  The workstations are our most powerful.  Each has
	Dell Precision T5500 Workstation
	Dual Quad Core E5620 2.40GHz cpu
	6X1GB DDR3 ECC SDRAM Memory 1067MHz
	512MB PCIe x16 NVIDIA Quadro FX 580 Dual Monitor DVI
	320GB SATA 3.0 Gb/s hard drive
	NVidia Tesla C1060 graphics processor card
	Ubuntu Linux

  These replaced 5-year old Sun W1100Z Windows computers.  Many of those
  computers were relocated to 349 Soda.

Budget Cuts

  The funding that supports Instructional computing was cut by 20% ($110K) 
  over 2 years, starting July 1 2009.  This funding supports computers, 
  software, service contracts, printing, network fees, furniture, supplies 
  and salaries.  We are now in a very austere spending mode, and more than 
  ever we are relying on donations for any major new equipment.  

  In FY 2009-10, our budget was cut by $63K (not including the temporary cuts 
  due to furloughs).  To match that cut, we reduced capital and operating 
  costs by eliminating service contacts and the purchases of new equipment.
  We reduced salaries by taking voluntary leaves without pay and by eliminating
  our student employee positions.

  In FY 2010-11, the budget was cut an additional $47K.  To match that cut, 
  we had to layoff a career staff member in July 2010.

  As a result, we have reduced these services since July 2009:

  1) CS student developer position eliminated:  no development work on 
     Scheme, CS61A Complaint/Resolve WEB service, CS61A Hadoop/MapReduce. 

  2) No lab maintenance on weekends.

  3) No primary support staff for UNIX CAD tools such as Cadence and Synopsys.

  4) Slower responses to some service requests.

  5) Canceled service contracts on SUN servers, Legato tape archive software,
     CoventorWare, RedHat Linux.

  6) Deferred maintenance: chairs, printers, computers all getting old.

  We have applied for some course materials fees, but even if approved, they 
  cannot make up the lost revenue of the last 2 years.
  In the spirit of the campus Operational Excellence initiative, these
  permanent budgets cut drive us to look for creative solutions to support
  and improve our services at lower costs.   Some possibilities include:

  1) Reduce the cost of compute servers by supporting low-cost virtual servers 
    (such as the Amazon EC2 cloud) for students to do course assignments.

  2) Reduce the cost of workstations by providing better services for student-
     owned laptops (access to network, files, printers, licenses).

  3) Reduce the cost of software by sharing licenses with other departments.

  4) Gain revenue by recharging for the use of our computer resources by
     workshops and classes from other departments.

  5) Establish partnerships with industry, other UCB IT groups and with UCB
     stundent organizations to share solutions of common interest.

Current Concerns

  These are current policy and procedural concerns for ISG:

  1) How to provide support for permanent archiving of WEB sites & videos
     (disk/tape space, access rights, ownership, bSpace, labor, cost)?
     ISG has adapted the IRIS tape restore policy: 13 months max.

  2) Department policy about desktop computers in the meeting rooms may be
     unclear to instructors.  No repairs/replacements?  (ie they'll vanish 

  3) ISG needs to plan farther ahead for new services and potential course 
     fees for classes.  We will survey the instructors before each semester
     to determine needs and priorities.

  4) ISG needs to communicate better with the GSIs and instructors at the
     start of the semester, to understand their needs and to guide them to
     best practices how to manage the grading software, file security, WEB 
     content and files suitable for printing.  We will offer help sessions 
     for GSIs and advertise the instructions that are on our WEB site.

  5) Can we retire the ISG (imail.eecs) email server and bounce incoming
     email?  Should we manage the communications services to our students?   
     Alternatives: bSpace (IST), lists.eecs (IDSG), (CSUA), 
     Google groups, ...

Current Development Goals

  We conduct periodic surveys of students for their opinions about the 
  computing resources.  (
  Based on these surveys, on requests from our instructors and on our 
  own observations, our group has these current development goals:

  1) Improve service to users who bring their own laptops.  Install power 
     strips and wired network connectivity for laptop users in 199 Cory, 
     277 Soda and elsewhere.  Enable authenticated access to floating 
     software licenses for laptop users when permissible.   Set up laptop 
     stations in each lab (seating, table space, power, faster wireless).

  2) Install power-saving features on the workstations and lighting in our 
     labs.  The UCB Operational Excellence ( 
     initiative also mandates this.  (With campus and departmental funds, 
     we did replace all the old CRTs with LCD screens in FY 2009-2010.)

  3) Provide virtual servers and VM images for classes to allow for more 
     rapid implementation of new computing environments for class projects.

  4) Provide collaborative software such as a webcast of the instructor 
     displayed onto the students' workstations or laptops, or the console 
     of any workstation  or laptop in a lab displayed onto the instructor's 

  5) Provide clean and safe labs, including the chairs, keyboards and mice.

  6) Gain techical expertise in virtual, clustered and cloud computing.

  7) Improve the WEB interfaces for ISG services such as user documentation,
     user account self-maintenance, SVN, and course WEB site development.

  Budget cuts of over 21% since 2008 have caused us to nearly eliminate
  maintenance contracts, proactive maintenance and repairs to non-essential 
  infastructure (such as chairs in the labs).  We must set our budget 
  priorities very strictly now.

Funding Wish List

  Here is a wish list for which we lack funding:

  1) upgrade workstations in Instructional labs ($234K total)

	- replace 30 PCs (circa 2002) in 105 Cory for EE20N ($90K)
	- replace  8 PCs (circa 2003) in 111 Cory for EE117 ($24K)
	- replace  8 PCs (circa 2002) in 218 Cory for EE143 ($24K)

	Benefit to approx 750 students in CS152, CS160, CS162, CS164, 
	CS169, CS170, CS172, CS184, CS186, CS188, CS194, CS198, EE117, 
	EE143, EE20N.

  2) renovate 105 Cory: new furniture, wiring, A/V ($30K)

	105 Cory is a teaching lab that is used primarily by EE20N 
	but is also available to other classes.  It has an overhead 
	projector and is well-suited to hands on instruction.  The
	lab benches, chairs, network and electrical cabling are in
	disrepair from years of use.

  3) salaries for 2 student staff for 1 year ($8K)

	To meet the FY 09-10 budget cut (21%), we have reduced our
	student staff.  As a result, we have a higher incidence of
	delayed repairs and deferred maintenance in the labs.  This 
	funding would support staff for projects such as:

	- check physical condition of labs and do routine maintenance 
	- install new equipment (such as with items #2 above)
	- update our UCB Scheme software (CS3, CS61A) for home users
	- install an RSS feed server for use by instructors
	This would benefit all 6800+ students who use our computers.

  4) Replace old chairs in 1 lab per year (about $6K per lab).

Notable Events

  See for current events.

  Nov 29 - no access to http servers (inst, isvn, imail) today
  	For a few hours on Monday afternoon, computers from outside of EECS
  	subnets may have been unable to access these WEB servers:	(class and student WEB sites)	(Instructional SquirrelMail site)	(Instructional SVN site)
  	Access was restored by about 6pm.  Users on networks inside of Cory, 
  	Soda and Sutardja-Dai Halls were unaffected.
  Aug 6 - login and authetication error on UNIX and Mac systems
  	From about 4pm-9pm today (Aug 6), users were unable to login to
  	some Instructional UNIX computers (Macs, Linux, povvibly ISVN).  
  	It was a reoccurance of the <a href='#ildap1-aug5'>problem below</a>.
  	Today, a hard drive on the primary LDAP server failed.  The server 
  	is being rebuild.  In the meantime, we've had to modify each Mac
  	and Linux systems by hand to connect to the secondary server; these
  	systems cannot do that automatically.
  Aug 5 - login and authetication error on UNIX and Mac systems
  	From about 10am-11:40am today (Aug 5), users were unable to login to
  	the Instructional UNIX computers (Solaris, Mac, Linux).  Users who
  	were logged in may have been unable to access their own files.
  	This is because one of our redundant password (LDAP) servers had 
  	crashed.  After we rebooted it, it took about 40 minutes to do an
  	automatic rebuilding of the internal LDAP database (this is unusual).  
  	This caused our UNIX computers to wait for that server, even though
  	we have a backup server running.
  May 9 - UNIX accounts, WEB site, email were inaccessible
  	Instructional UNIX accounts, WEB sites and email accounts were
  	inaccessible from about 12:18am until 8pm on Sunday May 9.   A 
  	critical UNIX filesystem (mamba:/share/b) had gone off-line.
  	The symptoms were:
  	* logins to UNIX accounts (they freeze, or some commands are not found)
  	* WEB sites on ("HTTP 403" errors)
  	* email accounts on (can't login)
  	No email was lost; users just could not login to read it.
  (Apr 20-21) UNIX disk space filled up
  	The UNIX /home/cc filesystem filled up overnight.  This filesystem
  	includes all of the home directories of EECS class accounts.  Users
  	were getting error messages such as "disk quota exceeded" and 
  	"error 28" from Filefox and Java apps.
  	An additional 30GB of space was dynamically added to the filesystem
  	on April 21, and some old user files were removed.  That resolved
  	the problems.
  UNIX accounts were inaccessible this weekend
  	Starting sometime Saturday evening Apr 3, some UNIX accounts and
  	WEB sites on the instrutcional systems were inaccessible.  The
  	problem was corrected at about 6:30pm Sunday Apr 4.
  	The problem was caused by the crash of the instructional file server 
  	mamba.eecs, which serves the network directories /share/b, /home/tmp
  	and the Samba server that allows you to connect to your UNIX home
  	directory from a Windows computer.
  	Files in /share/b are executed during the UNIX login process, so 
  	during this 24-hour outage most UNIX users were able to login only
  	after a long timeout delay, and then some programs were still
  	inaccessible and caused timeout delays.

For additional information, please contact me:
  Kevin Mullally, ISG Manager
  EECS Instructional Support Group
  378 Cory Hall, (510) 643-6141

source: ~inst/public_html/reports/managers/Fall_2010