ROSTEN_AJ at NZ.AC.USP
Thu Jul 4 20:28:00 EDT 1991
To List subscribers -
I enclose copies of certain communications received by users of
the vax maintained by
The Computer Centre,
University of the South Pacific,
I have sent them prior to unsubscribing through the appropriate
listserver. Perhaps some member has had experience of similar
problems and may be able to provide information of how the problem
was solved - and hopefully may know of some source of funding that
could be approached.
If anyone would wish to reply it may be wise to reply directly to
me since communications with the list would probably be shut down
INTERNATIONAL COMPUTER COMMUNICATIONS FROM USP
In mos countries, Universities and research institutes, etc,
are linked to national and international networks through
permanent, fixed connections. Typically these connections are
funded centrally, for example through a consortium of universities,
or a national research body. This means that the connection is
available free at the time of use, and to a very large extent, the
cost is independent of the volume of traffic. At USP the situation
is entirely different. The cost of a fixed connection (leased line)
to the international networks would be about $FJ 120 000 per year,
and it has not been possible to fund this. To provide some form of
communication, a dial-up email relay service via the University of
Waikato was introduced in June 1990. This means that the service is
not free at the time of use, and that the cost is proportional to
the volume of traffic.
Another important difference to bear in mind is that with a fixed
connection, other useful services become practical. Examples are
file transfer and on-line access to remote systems and databases.
2. EMAIL AT USP
These forms of communication, and especially email, are an
essential part of modern academic life and should be considered
essential at USP, perhaps even more so because of our isolated
geographical location. Their value can be gauged from the way in
which the usage of the email service has increased since its
introduction. After the initial months where volumes were low, the
approximate figures are as follows:
Month Mbytes transferred
Nov 90 3.2
Dec 90 2.8
Jan 91 5.8
Feb 91 6.4
Mar 91 8.6
Apr 91 17.1
Although it is heartening to see this increase, the associated
costs have become unacceptable. The cost for the April traffic was
over $FJ 6 000. At the time of writing, the projected cost of the
June traffic will be over $FJ 7000.
Because of the delay in receipt of bills from P & T, this recent
dramatic increase has only recently come to light. The Computer
Centre has immediately put in motion steps to investigate the type
of traffic, and to monitor usage more closely and currently,
recognising the immediate need to reduce costs.
The following information related for usage for June up to 26th.
(i) A total of 74 staff members have used international email
(ii) The top two users account for 40% of the total traffic.
(iii) The top ten users account for 84% of the total traffic.
This pattern of usage is not surprising. More significant from the
cost saving point of view is the following:
(iv) At least 90% of the traffic consists of incoming messages
from list servers, bulletin boards and similar services.
Most of these services are of great value to specific subject
areas. For example, the INFO-VAX service is invaluable in
distributing information about problems and developments in the VMS
community. There are some services however, which cater more for
leisure interests, such as Science Fiction and latest film
releases. Some are moderated, while others are not and can contain
large amounts of 'junk mail'. It was initially thought that
considerable savings could be made by avoiding multiple
subscriptions to the same service. However, further investigation
has indicated that the services themselves detect multiple
registrations from the same site, and send a single copy for
distribution, so this saving is not available.
The above analysis leads reluctantly to the following conclusions
(i) At present the cost of service is escalating out of control
and it cannot be sustained in its present form.
(ii) The only way to bring costs under control is to remove the
use of list servers and bulletin boards entirely. This would
suggest a likely cost of around $FJ 600 per month.
The Computer Centre has already cancelled its registration with
INFO-VAX. If departments considered access to a service to be
essential, a means might be found to cost this so that it could be
charged. This is difficult, as it is not possible to predict the
amount of traffic which will be received.
3. DIRECT ACCESS TO REMOTE SYSTEMS
For direct on-line access to remote systems and data-bases,
direct dial-up if often possible, as an alternative to network
access which is not available from USP. This could be done in a
controlled way via a modem connected to the VAX cluster, or from
individual modems connected to PC's, using ISD telephone lines
located in departments.
This service has not been considered by the Computer Centre due
again to its likely very high and uncontrolled costs. Consideration
should also be given to the cost implications and control of
individual, direct use of such services.
4. FUTURE PRIORITIES
The above sections discuss immediate solutions to serious
problem but should only be regarded as temporary measures. If USP
us to function fully as a top rank University, it is essential to
restore and improve the international communications facilities.
Various avenues are currently being pursued, with the objective
of being able to provide the type of fixed connection described in
section 1. This is the only option which will provide the
facilities which USP requires. Such connectivity has also to be
seen in the context of the internal regional communication needs of
Log in message appearing 5th July,1991
Due to the cost of the service and the unavailability of funds,
the Computer Services Committee has reluctantly decided that
subscriptions to e-mail journals, bulletin boards etc cannot be
currently supported. Will anyone who has registered with any such
services please cancel their registration immediately.
It is hoped that this move will be temporary, while alternative
arrangements are sought.
Computing Centre Director.
We are indeed blessed in our Computer Services Committee
Alan Rosten a.j.rosten at usp.ac.nz
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