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Univ. charging $100/mo./person for mainframe access

mathog at seqaxp.bio.caltech.edu mathog at seqaxp.bio.caltech.edu
Thu Mar 2 14:32:19 EST 1995

In article <3j0qqc$8rc at news.doit.wisc.edu>, Michael Kloth <mtkloth at students.wisc.edu> writes:
>gold at astro.ocis.temple.edu (Bert Gold) wrote:
>> One of the universities where I work has decided to charge $ 100 per
>> person per month for mainframe access.  As everyone in these newsgroups
>> knows, this kind of access is an absolute requirement for doing
>> molecular biology in 1995!
>The University of Wisconsin in Madison not only does not charge

This is very misleading.  They may not bill for direct usage, but they most
definitely are charging someone, somewhere, for this facility.  Most likely
it is supported by a combination of University overhead charges against 
research grants and charges against students' tuition.  They might also have
a direct grant to run it, but that seems kind of unlikely for a central
computing facility.

Academic computer facility users have an annoying habit of assuming that
just because it's easy to click open their inexpensive or free client
applications for e-mail, WWW, whatever, that there are no significant costs
involved in providing these services.  This is grossly incorrect, but the
tendency for most central computer facilities to be run off of overhead
charges does help to foster this mistaken view. 

So, here is a short list of what your local computer support people do for 

(The essentials - break any of these and your PC is an island)

1.  Purchase, install and maintain the hardware that makes up your
    local networks. 
2.  Maintain the logical integrity of your local networks (set up routing,
    issue network numbers/names, hunt down errant devices, and so forth).
3.  Obtain and maintain connection(s) between the local net and the 
4.  Purchase, install, and maintain central mail servers and/or timeshare
5.  (some sites) Purchase, install, and maintain central file servers.
6.  (some sites) Purchase, install, and maintain a firewall between the 
    Internet and your machines.
7.  (some sites) Computer hardware/software sales and support at prices
    lower than general market rates.

(Other common computer facility functions - especially with respect to
molecular biology users)

8.  Purchase, install, and maintain shared hardware. (Generally
    Unix or VMS machines, but also sometimes PCs and Macs.)
9.  Purchase, install, and maintain shared software.  For instance,
    GCG, but also including running servers (WWW,gopher).
10. Consulting services:  custom programming, help *understanding* what
    certain programs do (ie, explaining PHYLIP), prepurchase information
    for hardware and software.), documentation.  

I've left a bunch of stuff off and been overly general in others.  Note
also that a lot of the PC/Mac freeware/shareware was developed by the
people who run these sorts of facilities! 

The bottom line:  equipment and services cost real money. 


David Mathog
mathog at seqvax.bio.caltech.edu
Manager, sequence analysis facility, biology division, Caltech 

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