Sunday, December 09, 2007

Go Ask EDNA...

flannery-oconner.jpgI often talk about how companies like Apple and Google are redefining the scale of technology over the Internet, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of technology innovation going on in universities. Over the last 13 years, ASU has been developing a system called EDNA. EDNA (Enterprise Dynamic Network Authorization) is basically an authorization service. She’s kind of like your mom - you ask her if you’re allowed to do something, and she’ll say yes or no. You might ask EDNA to let you use a specific application or log onto a computer system, for example.

Remember when you asked your mom for dessert, and she asked you if you’d eaten your dinner first? Well before EDNA decides if you can or cannot access something, she will ask herself a series of questions about who you are to determine what level of access she thinks you should have. The great thing about EDNA is that she asks these questions dynamically against enterprise databases, so she’s always current and knows exactly what’s going on. For instance, if an employee leaves the University and is no longer affiliated with ASU, EDNA will clean up after him or her and will automatically revoke his or her access to ASU systems or applications.

Other cool things about EDNA are that she’s secure; she’s mostly automated; she centralizes authorization policies but decentralizes administration; she’s business-rule driven so you can capture the reasons authorizations are granted; and she centralizes audit so you always know who’s asking for authorization, why authorization was or was not granted, and when the request was made.

Crafted by ASU's own Derwin Skipp, Joe McDonald and Jack Hsu, EDNA is a real example of innovative software development. We're in the process of working with ASU to move EDNA into the OpenSource domain. Interested? Just let Derwin know.


Friday, September 28, 2007


It seems that last Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal article about ASU’s ERP implementation has stirred considerable discussion in various venues around the country. Much is being extrapolated from some fairly vague details in the article. While we appreciate the Journal’s take on our progress, short articles like this have limited space for specifics. And focusing on controversy, while providing a provocative read, doesn’t create the best backdrop for discussing the broader issues.

In the interest of spurring a solid debate on the virtues and drawbacks of ASU’s approach, I'm using this venue to answer some of the questions that the Journal article either missed or answered incompletely. Hopefully the context added here will contribute to public debate.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

What a fine "sole" you have...

You may be familiar with the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Shoemaker and the Elves. For those who are not, the story goes as so:

Once upon a time there was an impoverished shoemaker. With his last piece of leather, the shoemaker prepares to craft his final pair of shoes. He lays the leather out onto a table, intent on finishing the shoes early the next morning. The shoemaker awakens and to his surprise, finds the shoes already made, and sells them for a lofty profit. Next night, same deal. Long story short, it turns out that while the shoemaker sleeps soundly, two tiny elves prance into the shoemaker’s shop and skillfully fashion fine pairs of new shoes.

ASU’s partnership with Google is much like the story of The Shoemaker and the Elves. Through Google, ASU is able to rise in the morning and discover new applications and features without ever having toiled in the process. This very morning, the ASU community awoke to find Google Presentations added into Google Docs and Spreadsheets. Google Presentations lets users create online slideshow presentations to share with fellow students, teachers, friends, and shoemakers.

We just woke up one morning and there it was, ready for all of us to use. It's like magic.

Check it out and see for yourself.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Strategic Technology Alliance: Avoiding the Phoney War

Regents Vanilla helped us build institutional will quickly by using NAU's version of PeopleSoft as a reference implementation. But just using NAU as a model wasn't enough. In order to get started right away, we had to find a way to avoid the Phoney War.

According to Wikipedia:

"... the Phoney War was a phase in early World War II marked by few military operations in Continental Europe, in the months following the German invasion of Poland and preceding the Battle of France. Although the great powers of Europe had declared war on one another, neither side had yet committed to launching a significant attack, and there was relatively little fighting on the ground."

In the context of an ERP implementation, the Phoney War is the part where you've declared your intention to implement an ERP system but lack the technical resources or expertise necessary to implement it. In the traditional mode, this means that you send a large number of your folks to school where they learn how to bring up the various platforms you'll need. Much hardware is bought, software installed and patches applied. Lessons are learned as systems fail and are restored due to nuances in the deployment of the databases, development environments, and applications software that go into making an ERP.

This normally takes a considerable amount of time, especially for an institution the size and complexity of ASU. The real Phoney War lasted several months and ASU's Phoney War would certainly have lasted at least that long. We needed a way to trim nine months to a year off the front end of the development schedule so that work on a Regents Vanilla solution could begin immediately. Our answer came in the form of a strategic technology alliance. By finding a partner that was already skilled in the deployment of PeopleSoft applications, both for development and large-scale delivery, we could eliminate much of the start-up time and have confidence that the solution we deployed would be able to handle ASU's loads.


Applistructure: The Marriage of Applications and Infrastructure

Arizona State University's hosted PeopleSoft Applications System reflects its first move toward the marriage of enterprise applications and infrastructure technology known as applistructure. The entire system, spread across over 25 UNIX servers, has close to 11 terabytes of disk and a 1/2 terabyte of memory allocated to it. In addition to the UNIX servers, 32 physical and virtual Windows-based servers also support the application system.

The 3 main non-production environments (development, test and training) consist of a production-sized database for each of Oracle's four Enterprise Applications (PeopleSoft Enterprise Performance, PeopleSoft Human Resources/Student Administration, PeopleSoft Customer Relationship Management and PeopleSoft Enterprise Portal). In addition to these 12 environments, there are 15 specialized environments to help support rapid implementation of the entire technology stack. The total 27 non-production environments have over 6 terabytes of space allocated to them.

The 4 production databases consume over 1 terabyte of space. To access the production systems, users encounter their first of many custom integration points in the custom single sign-on process. Users are then routed through load balancers to one of 21 web servers, then on to one of 24 application server domains. To allow for efficient batch processing, there are 9 batch/reporting servers. The partnership between ASU and CedarCrestone's Managed Services Center allowed for the application system to be quickly scaled from a peak of 2,600 concurrent users in March 2007 to managing over 5,800 concurrent users in August of the same year.

In addition to user volume, ASU's Enterprise Applications are also able to provide and consume web services. Integration points such as tuition payments, distribution of PeopleSoft transactional data to University systems campus-wide, and notification of service outages of University systems, have all been redeployed as web services - with more to come.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Regents Vanilla

regentsvanilla.jpgThe 2004 independent CIO’s report did not paint an encouraging picture: IT with a “can’t do” attitude; a serious risk that the administrative systems were at the end of their life, subject to unpredictable failure; no strategy or institutional will to address the issue -- and even if the institutional will could be summoned, any fix would likely take 5-10 years and $70-$100M.

Not good.

Within days my arrival at ASU in August of 2005 (New Post), it became clear that if ASU were to move forward technologically, some solution to the ERP puzzle would have to be found: a daunting task since smart people at ASU had been trying to solve that puzzle for the previous decade.


Monday, September 03, 2007

How Deep Was the Hole?

Today's post is the first in a 3-part series on ERP the ASU Way. In comparison to the traditional university take on ERP, the ASU Way has shown itself to be lower-cost, lower-risk, quicker to get in play, and nimbler once it's deployed. ERP the ASU Way doesn't begin from a blank page. It relies on strategic technology alliance to get a faster, safer start and uses the Implement, Adapt, Grow methodology to replace critical enterprise processes quickly, then nimbly adjusts them to fit. Over the course of the next week or so, I'm going to expand on this approach here, and the way we used it to dig ASU out of a serious and very risky hole, a hole where it found itself after 25 years of underinvestment in administrative computing systems.

Why would we bother changing these systems -- Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Records, Registration, Talent Acquisition, and Payroll -- in the first place? We've spent about fifteen million dollars on development so far: that's a lot of scratch. And even if 6 of the 7 systems went in smoothly, you have to admit Payroll wasn't painless. (If your pay is one of the ones affected, it was the definition of painful!) So what's the hurry? Couldn't we have left well enough alone?


Sunday, September 02, 2007

How 'bout those Devils!!!

How about those Devils last night? That's the way you do it!! From where I sat, they looked very good, on both sides of the ball, special teams, few penalties...Very encouraging. Congratulations to Coach Erickson and the whole team. An awesome debut.

Even with such an auspicious start, I noticed that about midway in the second quarter, some of the guys behind me in the stands were already starting with the Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda. Shoulda run this play. Coulda taken better advantage of that opportunity. Woulda been better this way than that way.

Of course, armchair analysis is part of the game. Part of every game, really. Every real fan does it. And the coaches do it too, of course, to understand where things went right and wrong, to better prepare for the next game.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

HCM DTA Hands on Open House Workshop Event

A hands-on, open workshop for Departmental Time Administrators (DTA) has been scheduled for Friday, August 10, 2007, in Computing Commons Room 207.
You can stop in anytime from 9:00am to 5:00am.

You may bring your own laptop or use one in the room. Please bring your work, and experts will be available to assist with questions and techniques. We look forward to seeing you.


DTA training and Forum time conflict

Today’s Forum will not be replacing the DTA training. If you feel that attending the training session would be in your best interest then by all means please attend the training. For those who cannot attend the Forum and would like to address their concerns, please contact my assistant Marsha Frank at to schedule a time to meet with me either one on one or as a group.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Don Henley was in Phoenix tonight, appearing with the Pretenders. I've always liked Henley. I think he's a political poet. He opened with one of my favorite songs -- Dirty Laundry -- and closed with another favorite -- I Will Not Go Quietly.

Gotta love Henley. I find him inspiring...


Open Forum on Payroll Conversion, Thurs. Aug. 9

Since last week, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with a number of people about their questions and concerns regarding the payroll conversion. I have been impressed both by the quality of the conversation and the commitment everyone has to the success of the university and its mission. I promised last Friday to hold an Open Forum to enable people I have not been able to reach individually to engage in this same type of dialogue. The first of these Open Forums will be Thursday, August 9, from 2 until 3:30 p.m. in the Pima Room of the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus. I am setting up similar sessions on the other campuses next week, and I’ll update my blog and send an additional email with those times and locations. Please come to the forum if you still have unanswered questions or a perspective you’d like to share with me. I look forward to meeting with you.


Sunday, August 05, 2007


In a comment to my previous post, Kristi writes:

Dr. Sannier,
Isn’t it usually customary when converting such a large legacy system to a new one that the new system shadows the old system for a period of time to work out bugs before it goes live? As far as I know, this was not done with the HRMS to PeopleSoft conversion. Why is this?

Deploying a system of this magnitude without a plan for testing it would be reckless indeed, and deserving of censure. But that has certainly not been the case with ASU's OASIS project.

We could not have been nearly as as successful as we have been over the last 18 months if we had not followed a rigorous testing plan. Payroll is the most recent in a series of successful system deployments, systems that include Admissions, Financial Aid, Student Registration, Benefits, Talent Acquisition -- all major applications which have been in steady, high volume use by the university since their respective launches between January and June of this year.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the testing that the new Payroll system underwent in 2007.

In January, the OASIS team initiated the record conversion process to move data from the legacy system to HCM. Unit testing of individual modules and data conversion tests were begun and continued to be run until the go-live in July. From February through April, over 50 test payrolls were run on a regular basis, to identify flaws in the new system and ensure their correction. By March, the majority of payroll records had been successfully converted, but continual evaluation and improvement of that data continued through to go-live.

In May and June, a series of test payrolls were run in parallel with the Legacy system, to help the team identify any remaining errors. Over 150 separate audit procedures were created and run after each conversion and test payroll to verify accuracy and identify issues. Beyond the testing for delivered software, all modifications and interfaces ASU created itself included their own set of unit, regression, integration and parallel testing.

Despite this extensive testing, which included parallel runs with the legacy HRMS system, some problems remain to be fixed once the system comes live. Testing and quality control can only do so much. Like the punch list on a new house, some flaws must be repaired all together, at the end. It's tempting to believe that any system can be tested to perfection, but complex systems like these, involving hundreds of thousands if not millions of records, are moving targets. Testing can tell you a lot about the robustness of the operational components, but it can't reveal every flaw - a fact that provides little consolation when the error directly affects you.

That’s why it’s important to remember that the key to our success so far -- in each of the OASIS rollouts -- has been the combination of extensive testing with the adapability and flexibility of ASU's staff. It is staff members who are making this system work: by quickly learning new procedures, by having patience and confidence while issues are resolved, by helping to identify remaining gaps, and by working together to solve any challenges we face.

It will be due to staff cooperation and diligence that, after the dust has settled, ASU will regard OASIS as a collective success, one that reflects positively on the New American University. It will be because all of us will have worked together that we've been able to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy new application systems to help ASU achieve its goals. Those goals - access, excellence, impact - a quality education for the public good – are surely worthy of our best efforts.

I assure you that everyone involved with the deployment of the payroll project -- from managers, to coders and testers, to those entering data or helping staff to ensure their pay is correct -- all of them are working hard to fix any outstanding issues and make things right for anyone who has been adversely affected by the recent changes.

If you are experiencing an issue that the regular OASIS channels aren't fixing quickly enough, please email me at I will personally ensure that the problem is addressed quickly.


Friday, August 03, 2007

Fire Adrian!!!!

It's not everyday that you see people calling for your head in the public square.

Of course I’ve been reading yesterday's Tribune article and the comments posted there ( And you can bet I’m losing some sleep over the comments that ASU employees and concerned family and friends are leaving there.

So, what are we doing about it?

First and foremost, Matt McElrath, Christine Cervantes, Carol Campbell and myself are scheduling an Open Forum for this coming Thursday (August 9th) to hear the community's concerns and discuss the issues. When we have a room and time booked, I will publish it here and send a blanket email to all employees. I'm also happy to meet personally with anyone and everyone who has a concern they would like to discuss privately (my email address is I appreciate that there are those who might be concerned about "retaliation” – that some of you might be uncomfortable speaking directly to a member of the university administration about your frustrations. All I can say is you need not fear speaking out.

Second, I’m opening the conversation here at my blog where comments come directly to me and I can publish them with responses.

Finally, and most importantly, the OASIS team is working tirelessly to correct the remaining implementation issues. They have worked very hard over the past year and a half to transition ASU's legacy administrative systems into the PeopleSoft environment and their efforts are laudable and hard fought. I encourage you to consider that they too are ASU employees and continue to work diligently to provide this community with the best managed PeopleSoft implementation possible. When the dust has cleared, I am confident their efforts will be judged a resounding success.

So we will meet publicly, discuss your concerns and produce from the discussion a better ASU administrative system.

And if that means we have to fire Adrian, then that's what it means.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Score one for Windows . . .

So far I'm really enjoying my Mac conversion. Couple things have been a little discomforting though. For example, yesterday I was giving a talk at Educomm and was planning on using my Mac to display. Preparing the talk was easy...I used a combination of Keynote, Photoshop and Powerpoint under Parallels...very natural...But I forgot to bring my "dongle", the essential piece of conversion hardware to allow a Mac to connect to a standard VGA display...Arghhhh!!! Fortunately, the speaker before me was also an Apple user, and she graciously lent me hers...So the friendliness of the Apple community overrode the awkwardness of the dongle requirement....

But, it appears to me that Finder, while it has a nice interface for connecting to ftp sites and displaying the files therein, does NOT ALLOW writing to the ftp directories. I tried a few things, and did a little Google searching, but it appears this is just the way it is...

In the end, I went into Parallels and accessed my ftp site through the Windows XP explorer...Dead easy and very clean...Would have expected the Mac to work the same way...


Monday, June 18, 2007

WWDC . . . and an Apple for me . . .

A Steve Jobs performance is never to be missed and last week's Keynote at the Apple WorldWide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center in San Francisco was no exception.

It began with a nice bit from John Hodgman, starring as PC from the PC/Mac ads, pretending to be Steve Jobs. Dressed in jeans and a Steve Jobs signature black mock turtleneck, PC tried hard to convince the crowd that Apple was in fact closing up shop due to the incredible success of Vista. The partisan crowd ate it up... But I have to admit that after Steve was finished, I had to consider the possibility that Apple is out innovating everyone else in the desktop/personal computing space.

I enjoyed my 8 minutes of fame later in the day as part of the State of IT. My talk focused on the amazing difference that Apple's iTunes U has made in getting ASU's podcasting capability to market quickly. (While the State of IT presentation is covered by Apple confidentiality restrictions, I made remarks similar to my State of IT thoughts in a recent podcast (transcript).

No doubt about it, Apple is pretty hot right now. The iPod redefined music... Leopard is amazing... the iPhone promises to be a breakout device. Sales of MacBooks are really brisk... and getting brisker. Apple stores rule as a shopping experience.
So as of last week, I have officially switched. Over the course of a couple of days, I migrated all my files to a MacBook Pro equipped with Parallels. So far I'm really impressed by the experience. I'm running Outlook side by side with Safari and iChat, and so far its the best computing experience I've ever had.

Plus I can now identify with the cool kid in the ads... I've always been a sucker for the cool kids.


ASU and ItunesU

My name is Adrian and I am the University Technology Officer at Arizona State University, one of Americas largest and fastest growing universities serving metropolitan phoenix and the citizens of Arizona. Under the leadership of President Michael Crow, we are developing a new vision for American higher education, something we call the New American University. A new gold standard for access excellence and impact that judges a university by the quality of its output, not just the quality of its input; a university as proud of who it includes as who it excludes.

I’m here today to briefly describe for you how Apple is helping Arizona State University use technology to improve its academic excellence, increase educational access, and accelerate ASU’S impact on its community and the world.

There was a time when Universities were leaders in technology innovation. Certainly there are people in this room old enough to remember when people got their first email address in a .edu domain; when the largest networks were among the buildings on campuswides, the bits travelling over cables lovingly twisted and pulled by university it staff. Some of the first online applications were self service were college registration system and online card catalogs in university libraries.

But in the last decade, with the accelerating consumerization of high technology, universities have long since lost the lead. Consumer technologies are no longer watered down versions of industrial grade capabilities. Consumer technologies are now setting the pace, and along with it they are setting the expectations of our user communities. In the case of universities, the digital natives that are our incoming students expect us to provide a technology experience at least as good as the leading consumer edge. And educational institutions around the country are struggling to meet those ever-escalating expectations.

Over the past decade, Universities have moved from the technology drivers seat, to the back seat. As the innovation curve that leaders like Apple are on continues to accelerate, without serious help we may soon find ourselves on the side of the road watching consumer technology’s leading edge disappearing in the distance.
At ASU, we believe the answer to regaining the technology initiative lies in changing our focus from Context to Core.
As Geoffrey Moore, of Crossing the Chasm fame, defines it, Core activities are the ones that distinguish your enterprise, the ones that set it apart. In the case of a university then, a core activity is one that brings us new students, or attracts world class faculty, or helps students to succeed.
Core activities you must do for yourself. No one else can distinguish your institution for you. And everything else is context for that core.
One of the reasons IT shops today find it increasingly hard to compete with the consumer experience is that what was once core has rapidly become context. We still spend 80% of our time on infrastructure, storage, networking and content distribution. None of which will distinguish our university. There's almost no time left over to apply the leading edge to our Core activities of teaching, learning and research.
If technology is to matter ASU, our shop has to climb the value chain, leave the enabling infrastructure to others, and focus 80% of our energies on the core. The value added application of emerging consumer technologies to the central academic and research missions of the university.
And as we shift our focus to Core, we believe our context must come from strategic technology allies like Apple -- consumer technology powerhouses who are setting the pace of innovation and who operate at scales far beyond our own.

ASU's new technology strategy was featured in the 2006 Holiday Edition of The Economist. In that article I said that using leading edge consumer technologies is like getting technology from an advanced alien culture. Nowhere is that more true than in the case of ASU's partnership with Apple around Itunes U.

The democratization and explosion of rich media authoring promises to revolutionize education. But as new capabilities for creating, sharing and displaying content roll out in an endless stream, institutions struggle to put the supporting infrastructure needed to store and distribute this new content.

With iTunes U, it’s as if ASU got to skip a few grades. Itunes U lets us jump right over the part where we design and build a university owned and managed delivery system that would be a poor cousin to iTunes and go right to the head of the class -- to use all the power of Itunes itself, to showcase and distribute ASU's rich media content not as a shadow of the leading edge, but with the very same rapidly evolving tools and services that Apple is using to help redefine the whole world's media experience.

Because of iTunes U, ASU can forget about the how and focus on the why; focus on the myriad ways that these new kinds of content can advance the mission of the University, enrich the learning experience, and reach out to the community in powerful new ways.
iTunes U has provided President Crow and the rest of our University with a new platform for communicating the New American University's message of excellence, access and impact to our community and the world. The New American University channel allows us to reach out to  communicate a message of change throughout our community and around the world, and keep everyone interested in this new vision for American Higher Education abreast with its progress in the Valley of the Sun
iTunes U has also provided ASU with a new and powerful vehicle to communicate the excitement of higher education to K-12 students around Arizona and around the world. In the same store where aspiring students find the latest from their music idols, podcasts like ASU's innovative "Ask A Biologist", put middle school students from around the country in touch with what skilled science educators can teach them about their world and their own place in it.
Finally, ASU has been able to use the iTunes U infrastructure to create a highly integrated rich media experience for its faculty and students. Professors can easily create course specific podcasts to provide access to lecture materials, or supplement the class experience with timely discussions that all feed to student ipods and powerbooks seamlessly thorough the iTunes client.
All of this adds up to acceleration for ASU. Apple's Itunes U has made it possible for ASU to distribute its content on a state of the art system that defines the leading edge, but without losing control of our brand, our content or our domain.
It's allowed us to focus on how this technology can attract new students and help our current ones to succeed. We're doing our part by instrumenting our campus for capture and ensuring our network can deliver this new content where and when its needed. And helping our students and faculty find new and productive uses for what this technology revolution enables.
iTunes U.... technology from the advanced alien culture that is Apple, ....helping ASU meet the higher education challenges of the 21st century


Friday, June 08, 2007

House Committee on Science and Technology

The role of technology in reducing illegal filesharing: A university perspective

June 5, 2007

Dr. Adrian Sannier

University Technology Officer

Arizona State University

Thank you, Chairman Gordon, Ranking Member Hall, and other Members of the Committee for giving me an opportunity to describe for you Arizona State University's use of technology to reduce the incidence of  copyright-infringing filesharing on its campus networks.

As one of the nation's largest universities, with over 65,000 students attending its 4 campuses in the metropolitan Phoenix area, ASU provides its students, faculty and staff with an extensive and evolving array of computing and communications services. These services have become a core enabler of the University's academic and research missions.

To govern the legitimate use of these services, ASU developed an Acceptable Use Policy for its computing and communication services that expressly forbids their use to transfer or exchange files when that transfer or exchange would infringe on copyright. Users of the University’s computing and communication services must electronically agree to this policy as a condition of connection. The policy explicitly forbids the use of university communications or computing infrastructure for any unlawful communications, including "threats of violence, obscenity, child pornography, copyright infringement and harassing communications".

I am pleased to report that, despite some news reports to the contrary in the popular press, ASU has a relatively low rate of complaint about the illegitimate use of its network from copyright holders such as the RIAA. ASU’s complaint rate, which is the number of individuals alleged to have distributed copyrighted content per thousand students, was only 0.52%, the lowest among the 25 institutions for which the RIAA released data this past Spring.

In a recent letter to University Presidents around the nation, the RIAA outlined a set of four best practices that they recommend universities employ to prevent or reduce student exposure to lawsuits and/or Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices. ASU was an early adopter of each of these best practices, and they are the cornerstones of ASU’s successful containment efforts.

The first recommended practice is to educate students about the do’s and don’ts of downloading and copying music and other copyrighted works. ASU incorporates these topics as part of our new student orientations, our residence hall orientations and our twice yearly information security week orientations.

The second recommended practice is to offer students a legitimate online service, one that provides an inexpensive alternative to illegal file-sharing. Beginning in July of 2005, ASU was an early adopter of one such service, a digital entertainment network designed specifically for college students known as Ruckus. ASU's subscription provides its students with downloadable access to 2.75 million songs, full-length feature films, short-form video, sports clips, and music videos, as well as access to a social network site focused on the network.

The third recommended practice is to take appropriate disciplinary action when students are found to be engaging in infringing conduct online. Under the terms of ASU's Acceptable Use Policy,

upon receiving notice of a violation, ASU may temporarily suspend a user’s privileges or move or delete the allegedly offending material pending further proceedings. A person accused of a violation is notified of the charge and has an opportunity to respond before ASU imposes a permanent sanction.

In addition to sanctions available under applicable law and ASU and regents’ policies, ASU may impose a temporary or permanent reduction or elimination of access privileges to computing and communication accounts, networks, ASU-administered computing rooms, and other services or facilities.

The RIAA's final recommendation encourages universities to implement a network technical solution to restrict, filter, or curtail peer-to-peer file sharing. Any technical solution must balance the rights of copyright holders with the legitimate uses of the university’s network and its users’ expectations of privacy and academic freedom.

Beginning in December of 2000, ASU's first attempt at a solution was a network monitoring solution from Packeteer. ASU used the Packeteer product to monitor network data streams and use the protocol information contained in the streams to prioritize traffic. This allowed ASU the amount of university bandwidth devoted to peer-to-peer traffic to be strictly limited. Over a five year period, ASU invested more than $250,000 in the installation and maintenance of this solution, which was purchased and maintained solely for its role in protecting the interests of copyright holders. In 2006, as the legitimate traffic volumes continued to increase, requiring a concomitant increase in investment in Packeteer, ASU began to look for a different solution.

After evaluating several different products and approaches, we have finally settled on Audible Magic's CopySense Network Appliance. The CopySense product does not disable peer-to-peer networking services or restrict the bandwidth available to them. Instead, the CopySense Appliance treats copyrighted material as if it were a computer virus on a P2P network. It works by blocking the exchange of copyrighted content while allowing legitimate files to transfer unobstructed. While our technical team was skeptical of the approach at first, our initial tests convinced us that the CopySense approach would provide us with a viable solution.

We installed the CopySense in spring semester without fanfare. It was configured to reject any traffic identified as registered commercial music, likely commercial music, likely commercial film and TV, or likely commercial software. It began rejecting about 5% of the overall network bandwidth immediately, identifying that traffic as the exchange of copyrighted material. Despite the interruption in network transmission, there was no noticeable increase in calls to our helpdesk, and we received no complaints about network performance for legitimate purposes attributable to the CopySense product.

Overall I would classify our adoption of CopySense as one of the easiest technical adoptions we have undertaken and that it has thus far caused very little disruption in our community.

The list price for the CopySense product at ASU's scale is just over $200,000, but ASU expects its costs this year, as a Pioneer Reference Account, to be closer to 1/2 that price.

While we at ASU are pleased with our new technical solution, we remain concerned about the potential for an ongoing "arms race". Peer-to-peer services have evolved to defeat effective counter-measures before and it would be foolhardy to believe that no further evolution is possible. As long as this "arms race" continues, universities will continue to be called upon to spend scarce resources procuring and deploying the latest technical counter-measures and expending time and energy in the protection of copyright at the expense of the value-added application of emerging technologies to the core missions of the institution.

We therefore applaud the progress that Apple and others have made in developing new and more effective business models for the consumer friendly distribution of electronic content and look forward to the day that these improved services make copyright-infringing file exchange unattractive to all but the fringes of our community.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share Arizona State University's experience with you.




This week I went to Washington, to testify before the House Committee on Science and Technology about the university perspective on illegal filesharing. My testimony resulted in what may be the worst picture ever taken of any person, at any time, ever.

ASU was invited to testify before the committee to describe its approach to illegal filesharing on its campus. In my remarks, I outlined how ASU uses a combination of education, enforcement, legal alternatives, and network management to contain copyright infringement by members of its community. I also pointed out to the committee that while potentially effective, the protection offered by any given technical measure is temporary, and that the "arms race" of escalating counter-measures needed to combat evolving file-sharing programs over the long term is an increasingly expensive proposition for universities.

I believe that the only permanent solution to illegal filesharing must come from the marketplace. Its hard to sell CD's when they are no longer the product that customers want to buy. If more companies follow the example of EMI and Apple and begin to offer products in forms that customers want, at prices customers are willing to pay, illegal filesharing will move back to the margins and out of the mainstream.

At least that's how it looks to the goofy guy in the tie with his eyes closed on CSpan2. What's with that smirk anyway?


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Now is the winter of our discontent...


If this week's weather was any guide, we're looking at a glorious spring here at ASU. And in anticipation of that glorious spring, this past Friday, we had a little thank you picnic on the Hayden Lawn to recognize the hard work of the OASIS team, complete with yours truly in a Dunk Tank. Make no mistake. This was no "Mission Accomplished Celebration" to be sure. We're not hanging any banners yet. Everyone on the team knows we still have a long way to go, and a short time to get there. As I told the team on Friday, in the words of Winston Churchill, "This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is perhaps the end of the beginning!!!"

And taken all in all, it's been a good beginning. Given the way this team has hit its deadlines, deployed the systems, and shown an incredible ability in responding to problems to ensure that a system once deployed stays deployed, a beautiful late-winter afternoon was as good an excuse for a MidPoint Picnic as we needed.

For an ERP project of this magnitude, one that is just past its first birthday, OASIS is in awfully good shape. We've met every milestone so far. We're still under budget. The new system is already posting jobs and processing applicants. The schedule of classes is online. The student records are already converted, more than 50,000,000 of them. We're successfully processing student applications and we've been admitting students since November. We're computing their financial aid and we're registering them, by the thousands.

So while nobody's planning to don a flight suit and land on an aircraft carrier any time soon, its still useful to take a minute to take stock. And as I look at it, I have to say that ASU's strategy of Implement, Adapt, Grow is succeeding.

Recall that ASU opted for Implement, Adapt, Grow to avoid the Frankenstein Factor, a phenomenon I warned of in September of 2005. The Frankenstein Factor occurs when complex systems are developed, often over a period of years, without coming into regular contact with reality. Created in a castle laboratory, far from the pressures of the real world, the entire system is carefully designed and assembled, all the complex pieces carefully tried against test suites, and then assembled to create a whole. Only after the monster is complete do its creators jolt it with electricity in the appropriate fashion, bring it dramatically to life, and proudly lead it down to the public square to live among the people.

Who, of course, run screaming...


Monday, February 19, 2007

More on the Tech Fee...


It's been a busy last couple of weeks. Among other things, I've had the opportunity to discuss the student technology fee proposal at 7 different Open Forums that were held at each of the ASU campuses.

I'd like to thank those students who made time to attend one of the meetings or who have posted comments online - either at my blog, or at one of the two facebook sites devoted the fee, one in support and one in opposition.  Clearly the fee proposal has its student supporters and its opponents, but regardless of position, I have found the discussion interesting and helpful.  While I would have hoped for stronger turnouts at the forums -- none of the meetings had more than a dozen or so attendees -- the students who did come out drove a lively and informed discussion of the options.

The remainder of this post is meant to consider and respond to the comments we received during the meetings and electronically.


Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Letter to the Editor of the State Press...

I’m writing as a follow-up to the article in the January 24th edition of the State Press, USG Takes Tech Fee to Student Voters. I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce the University’s perspective on this important issue and assure students that we’ve been working closely with their representatives. Beginning in November of last year, I began working intensively with a group of student government representatives, including: Maria Ronan, Elizabeth Simonhoff, Ross Meyer, Christopher Gustafson, Amanda Confer, Devin Mauney and James Alling. Along the way, I’ve provided them with written details and participated in a series of face-to-face meetings to discuss the fee. This past Sunday, I posted a summary of the information I shared with these student leaders on my blog. I hope students interested in this issue will have a look at the post and feel free to share their comments there.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Student Technology Fee


No one is particularly fond of new taxes (or fees), especially those people called upon to pay the tax/fee. But sometimes new sources of revenue are needed to help an organization meet its obligations. As Oliver Wendell Holmes said, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society."

At the November 22nd meeting of the Arizona Board of Regent’s, ASU proposed a student technology fee of $100 per student, per year. The proposed fee is intended to supplement ASU’s existing state technology budget and allow for continued investment to meet student’s growing technology expectations. The fee is slated to be considered at ABOR's March meeting. While we'd all like to keep the cost of education as close to free as possible, I support this fee because I know how crucial it is to maintaining and advancing technology in support of the learning enterprise here at ASU.

As a student, your first instinct may be to oppose this fee, but I'd like to ask you to reconsider. I believe technology support is an important priority for many of you and supporting this fee is one way to ensure that ASU can continue to meet your growing and changing technology needs. At the UTO, we are working with ASU student government leaders to get them up to speed on the rationale behind the fee; as well, we're planning a series of open forums to be held in February on all 4 campuses so students can teach us more about their ideas and concerns. I'll be writing more on the timing of those Forums in a future post, but I wanted to share some of the background on the fee here, and in the podcast I did on Friday.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Work-Life Balance

Economist Cover

There is an interesting article in the 2006 Holiday issue of The Economist that covers ASU's technology alliance strategy. It uses ASU's embracing of Google Apps for Education and Apple's itunes University as examples of how "consumer technologies are invading corporate computing". The article has an unusual title, "Work-Life Balance", describing not the usual balance we all must strike between work and family, but instead the balance that companies must now strike between their use of consumer technologies and more specialized "business-grade" technologies.

As technology becomes increasingly central to daily life, consumer technologies, produced for wider markets at greater revenue and profit, can quickly outstrip more specialized technologies, even when those specialized technologies started out in the lead. There are lots of examples of this phenomenon in technology: the way video games commoditized and dramatically accelerated the development of 3D graphics technology particularly for personal computers; the way the military and intelligence establishment embraced private sector information technology because of its superior pace of innovation.

As the Economist article points out, in the web space "as everything else migrates to web-based services, software will increasingly resemble the web technologies of the consumer market".

Nice to see that ASU is not alone in thinking that strategic technology alliance is a significant trend whose time has come.