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Re: Crystallography Journals Online

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <epc-l@iucr.org>
  • Subject: Re: Crystallography Journals Online
  • From: Brian McMahon <bm@iucr.org>
  • Date: Thu, 1 Jul 1999 10:10:21 +0100 (BST)
Thanks to everyone for your comments so far. Many identify points on which
we also have concerns, and many others open interesting lines of discussion
that will be explored in due course. 

Here I just respond to Lachlan's inquiries for factual information about the
connectivity issues.

> What is the estimated cost of getting the IUCr a "top class" fast
> link?
>   - Cost of connection
>   - Cost of hardware to support connection
>   - Admin/staff/time costs and issues
>   - Yearly recurrent/maintenance costs.

These are costings that will be produced for the Finance Committee. We are
looking at two possibilities to enhance direct connectivity:

(1) upgrade the IUCr direct JANET connection to 2 Mbps. The line rental cost
is high (about 37,000 pounds p.a.). We could currently support this with
existing hardware and software, but it might be prudent to upgrade the
network software and, in the longer term, provide a dedicated router
machine.

(2) lease a "facilities managed" server from an ISP. Pipex offer a deal
hosting a Sun Ultra 10 on a 10 Mbps backbone for about 23,000 p.a. They
provide daily backups and manage hardware downtime. All software would be
installed and managed by us.

Given that we would need to maintain our existing JANET link, the overall
costs of schemes (1) and (2) are similar. The notional higher bandwidth of
(2) is shared across far more users, so it's hard to know in advance which
would provide the faster service to end-users. In practice a slower direct
link to JANET (say 256 kbps) might offer the same throughput.

My current thinking is however to favour (2) on the following grounds:
   (a) Redundancy - there is nothing to stop us running our own server at 
       Chester for (i) our own use, (ii) possible use by Coeditors or other
       relevant people for whom it might be more convenient, (iii)
       redirection in the event of prolonged downtime at Pipex (or the
       demise of that company). Probably redundancy of international
       connectivity is not greatly helped in the event of a major disaster
       at the central routing stations: both JANET and Pipex access the
       international networks through London docklands sites.

   (b) Security - both of hardware through the facilities management at
       Pipex, and unauthorised access through separating the server from
       our own network. Further, replication of access controls at both
       sites would ease recovery from a compromised system.

   (c) Extensibility - Pipex is an MCI company, and offers similar deals
       on other networks world wide. Leasing of identical server hardware
       under our direct control will simplify mirroring.

(3) A third approach to improve connectivity is to host the service through
a third party. We are also exploring this avenue. In terms of costs directly
attributable to bandwidth, it is a much cheaper option; but there are of
course other costs against which that will be offset. It is interesting to
note that one of the possible third parties we are considering uses the
Pipex facilities-managed service for their own equipment.

It would help to assess the likely improvement in speed if you could look at
the following sites and let me have your views on the speed of response from
each:
      www.rsc.org                   2 Mbps leased connection through Pipex
      www.ioppublishing.co.uk                           "
      www.turpin-distribution.com   10Mbps Pipex backbone facilities managed
 

> Other issue is how easy would it possible be to mirror these remotely
> and is this practical if accounts could be obtained on remote servers?
> And the machines were configured with security in mind (mainly secure 
> telnetting using Secure Shell)?  

I see the mirroring of the journals service proceeding through the
acquisition of dedicated facilities-managed servers, rather than as an
extension of the existing arrangements. The need for higher capacity (of
order gigabytes) and reliable access control would demand more from the
mirror site administrators and would likely be much more complex to
administer. Comments welcome.

Brian

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