The purpose of this document is to gather and assess information about the requirements for comprehensive and structured support for the WWW at SLAC. The material here will be feed into the development/assembly of the Strategic Plan for Computing at SLAC.
Note to members of the WWW-CC: Your input on this document is welcome. Please send suggestions to Lisa Dunn, who will communicate them to the members of the group charged with working on this document.
If the WWW is to be used as the major communication tool at SLAC, adequate levels of budgetary and staff support must be provided to guarantee access to the WWW (in terms of hardware, software, and training) to every staff member where required by the nature of their work.
SLAC's policy against server-proliferation, while motivated by understandable security concerns, needs to be reevaluated. In addition to the availability of commercial products which may provide more generalized solutions to security, the current approach to discouraging peripheral servers should be assessed with an eye towards the resultant costs in lost opportunities for innovative WWW technology development which would might otherwise arise.
The need for SLAC standards for software and hardware emerges with new urgency in the context of the WWW. Many of the elements of an adequately supported WWW environment can only be achieved if SLAC proactively pursues a coherent approach to the platforms and software packages it supports. Developing or acquiring the administrative structures necessary to provide technically informed recommendations for standards and a commitment to fully supporting those standards is essential.
The development of the WWW offers an opportunity to seriously consider reconfiguring the structure of technical support at SLAC, perhaps migrating from centralized support (through SCS) to decentralized (support and FTE distributed throughout the organization, with centralized coordination). With the emergence of the WWW as a central communication and software development tool at SLAC, some effort should perhaps be invested in reevaluating the ways support for these functions is provided throughout the site.
Many of the most cost-effective solutions for a host of WWW issues are emerging from the commercial sector. The cost-effective development and maintenance of SLAC's WWW infrastructure needs to move away from SLAC's historic "grow your own" attitudes, which are no longer appropriate.
The following is a preliminary list of support, maintenance, and development functions which should be elements of a well-supported WWW environment at SLAC: