Jeremy Smith's blog

Entry Is Labelled

Top 3 Most Wanted Services From ITS

This was originally one entry; one big, long entry. But I am always put off by entries that require me to use the mouse wheel to fully read. So I've split this into a series of 4 entries, which I'll toss out individually over the course of next week.

But this is something that I've been thinking a lot about lately. What 3 services do I think would be the most useful new developments to come out of ITS. ("New" developments as opposed to fixing stuff that's already wrong i.e. my disdain for our webmail interface is well known; unfortunately, stuff like that never seems to get redone because the grand cosmic checklist of services offered has that one line item checked off and the grand-cosmic checklist only checks for presence not quality.)

Not too long ago, I would have said an IM server would be my #1. That was before Google Talk. Now, I fear that the IM space is going to undergo rapid progress, rapid changes, and rapid evolution. Google is in it and whipping out standards. And if they are coming out of Google, you would expect Google would support them (which would also mean these standards would automatically get supported in jabberd). And if they get supported in one place, AIM, MSN, and Yahoo will be quick to implement them, too. This means things are going to happen fast. **FAST** I don't see any vendor (outside of actually using the same code base as Google) being able to keep up with the pace the features are going to start rolling out with from the major IM vendors. I am starting to doubt the wisdom of deploying something like Microsoft's Live Communications Server 2005. The development on it would always lag behind. This arena is in a process of churning and changing (just read the Google Talk blog). And if you do install MS Live Communications Server, you are going to end up a half-dozen or so features behind the major IM players. And when you approach your MS rep to ask when are those new features going to be available in your IM server's product upgrade cycle, you will hear constant neighings of "oh in the next quarter." I would either stay out of the arena until it calms down.

So an IM server is not at the top of my list. What would be on the top of your list?

  1. Social Software
  2. Wiki Farm
  3. A Network Drive


  1. gravatar

    The service I feel Case needs the most is universal file storage. The Nord lab has a fileserver, but I can't access it from anywhere else. The EECS department has file storage, but that too only works on EECS machines. Physics has their own file servers. Astronomy has at least 4tb. I'm sure almost every other department has a different file server.

    My complaint is that none of these are 'universal', in that I can't access them from anywhere else. I don't want to resort to emailing files to myself constantly when I want to work on something on another computer. All I need is, say 100mb that I can access from anywhere on campus. Flash drives are only a hack, and are not nearly as versatile (and hopefully reliable) as storage on the network. If done well, such a service could then be used to share files between students, and between professors and students.

    I guess what I'm looking for is something like AFS or Coda. MIT's Athena project is amazing, even if only for their use of AFS (On a side note, the Athena project has many other desirable characteristics, such as a universal linux environment. Impossible to pull off here, but it's nice to dream.)

    I'm tired of having to think about where my files are. I want them to be everywhere.

  2. gravatar

    The EECS department provides, which can be accessed via WebDAV, FTP, or a CGI interface from just about anywhere (though I haven't tried connecting from a locked-down lab like Nord yet - resorting to the Web interface might be necessary).

    An ITS-provided AFS server would be very cool.

  3. gravatar

    What are the advantages of an AFS server over a standard network drive exposing itself via WebDAV and SMB?

  4. gravatar

    AFS and Coda are actual file systems. WebDAV and SMB are ways of accessing file systems. The big advantages of AFS and Coda over normal file systems is they are distributed. Cool stuff. If I had 30 computers or wanted to provide 5 9's...

  5. gravatar

    I have 37 computers in the Freedman Center. If someone can figure out how to get the distributed AFS thingy working in Windows without interfering with our current ghosting/updateing process I'm willing to give it a try. 30GB AVI files on our video machines fill up space very quickly even though each machine as a 250GB drive.