Department of Energy's Office of Biological and Environmental Research and located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.


Randy Collard, Dow Chemical Company: For industry to use collaboration and extranets effectively, it is critical for us to have security in place and to have flexible security as well as encryption. You spoke about that a little bit with respect to the diesel project. Could you talk a little more about the state of that as you see it and what you see as necessary?

Raymond Bair: The state of security is not as good as I would like it to be. I think some of the capabilities that are coming out of what people classify as the next generation of Internet protocols and capabilities will make this a lot easier.

A number of places have found reasonable success in point-to-point security by using extant tools like SecureShell and virtual private networks, but the virtual private networks are not trivial to set up and administer, and so it is not a technology that I would advocate, except perhaps for cases where the secure interactions are fairly static, as between one institution and another.

William Winter, SUNY-ESF, Syracuse: I have two questions. Many of the applications and instruments that you are using have vendor-controlled software. The first question is, How do you deal with the issue of floating licenses across a network as opposed to just local floating?

Raymond Bair: It depends ultimately on what that license says, and so one cannot predict beforehand. In an architecture with the server independent of the instrument, usually you are interfacing with proprietary instrument software through a meta language that is available for the instrument through serial ports. In that case you are not actually running that instrument's software. But in terms of sharing the screen of the instrument elsewhere, for example, by using a remote X Windows display on an instrument, I am not personally familiar with whether there is a legal intellectual property issue with that. It is a common enough practice, but the terms would, once again, depend on the particular license.

William Winter: My other question is a bit more philosophical. Yesterday the comment was made that although industry is very much involved with multidisciplinary and team approaches, realistically the Ph.D. is going to remain an individual effort. Do you really think that has to be true? Can we talk about having multidisciplinary, integrated, team Ph.D.s where it still is compartmentalized enough that somebody can take credit—"I did this"—as an individual?

Raymond Bair: I think so. I see multidisciplinary teams forming around a number of the environmental research areas where experiments in any one domain aren't going to be sufficient to address the issue at hand and where collections of Ph.D.s have become engaged in addressing a larger and more complex issue by working together in their respective disciplines and sharing information. Given the kinds of problems we are trying to solve, there is definitely encouragement from the funding agencies in the kinds of proposals being solicited in a number of these areas that almost virtually requires working together, and so we will see examples of this happening.

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