Report on OUCS 5-year Vision 2005-2010

Introduction

In keeping with University policy, OUCS produced a 5-year vision in 04/05, complete with short-term, medium-term, and long term objectives. At the end of that report (circulated to ICTC) a list of objectives and activities was provided. This brief summary acts as a progress report on these activities, and a signing-off of certain goals which have been achieved during the year.

Summary

A quick summary of the goals outlined in Section 1 below is as follows(Section 2 below presents the original breakdown of objectives and goals.):

  • 88 specific goals were identified in the original plan
  • OUCS has completed 28 of these
  • 26 further goals are in progress, and some of them are near to completion
  • Of the remaining goals 29 have been identified as continuing activity for OUCS, i.e. part of our core continuing remit
  • Only 3 goals have been identified as being directly affected and delayed by the emerging Enhanced Computing Environment
    * Only two goals have been noted as abandoned — one due to it being taken up by the University’s Web Strategies Group, and the other relating to the portal project (see below).

We suggest that this demonstrates a very productive year for the department in that we have achieved most of the goals (or are working on them) identified by OUCS and ratified by ICTC. However, we would like to draw attention to a few important points:

  • This success has been achieved in spite of the constraints currently imposed on OUCS in terms of resourcing, and many crucial developments have not been allowed to go ahead due to lack of resources.
  • We feel it is important to stress that any new service asked of OUCS has a considerable resourcing implication in terms of capital costs, pressure on existing facilities (notably our machine room which currently is filled to capacity), and staff costs (development, testing, maintenance, and support). The marginal costs of such services needs to be recognised centrally, and as OUCS is currently operating at capacity any new service can only be accommodated if it is matched by new funding or an existing service is ceased.
  • Three key projects and initiatives did not succeed due to the fact that the University did not allot strategic funding to these initiatives. These were:

    a) A University-wide filestore
    b) A roll-out of wireless across University departments and public places
    c) The development of the University portal

In Hilary Term we will revise our report and produce a new 5-year vision statement (covering 2006-2011). This will be done in the light of forthcoming University guidelines on producing such reports within the general framework of the Corporate Plan, and the emerging University-wide ICT Strategy.

Section 1: Summary of Goals Tasks

Goals/Tasks Relates to Objective Comments
Completed
Complete the final parts of the backbone network upgrade to 10 Gbps, with minimal disruption to service 4.1.1, 4.1.4
Seek University support and funding for hardware required 4.1.1, 4.1.3
Transfer telecommunications services and NSMS web service to new technology 3.5
Complete OUCS wireless pilot project 4.1.3.2 Information available at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/network/wireless/
Participate in University decision-making regarding extent and funding of future developments 4.1.3.2 Funding refused
Introduce additional TSM servers to cope with continued growth in demand 4.2
Evaluate and introduce new TSM features (such as collocated files on tape) to improve quality of service 4.2 Is also a continuing activity.
Conduct pilot study/studies for the Central Filestore leading to a firm proposal 4.2 Funding refused
Update the hardware base underlying central service provision as required, taking advantage of developments in data storage technology (and potentially integrating with the Central Filestore) 4.2 Hardware updated but funding refused — see above
If appropriate, migrate and enhance registration database services to new server 4.5.1
Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Novell’s NMAS method to provide integrated authentication across the department for all types of PC workstations 4.5.1
Produce annual report on activities, common problems etc, primarily for ITSS conference 3.4
Identify and document suite of general purpose technical support procedures (e.g. operating system re-install e.g.www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/helpcentre/troubleshooting/winxp
Re-launch internal home page as a collaboratively authored WIKI 3.4
Master source of all static OUCS web pages held in validated XML 5.1
Develop and deploy mechanism for routine monitoring and 6-monthly reporting on compliance of all OUCS web services with W3C WAI AA standards
Implemented recommended search engine solution and promote to ITSS and institutional webmaster 5.1
Implement pilot WIKI application (for Help Centre staff) and report on usability and appropriateness of this technology 5.1
Provide input to email addressing policy review 4.1.4
Provide facilities for users to manage their own email routings
Deliver draft Infrastructure Metric to ICTC and seek agreement that trial can be made 4.4.1
Assist ICTC in implementation of trial Infrastructure Metric and then full evaluation 3.1, 3.2, 3.3
Mount initial OUCS course material online under the VLE, and report to SMG and ICTC 4.3 Available at http://www.weblearn.ox.ac.uk/bodington/site/asuc/oucs/itlp/
Aim to implement modular course booking, and report to SMG 4.3
Investigate and promote the next level of VLE development and report to SMG 4.3.1
Outline a (Service-Oriented) architecture for a VRE, which comprise interoperable services in support of the research life-cycle; report to ICTC 4.4.1 This is taking place via the three VRE projects
Develop points of integration between Weblearn, Webmail and the OUCS portal 4.4.1
Complete new secure office 5.4
In Progress
Submit plans to Network Management Group and co-operate in developments by other stakeholders (Surveyors, Marshal. Etc 4.1.3.3 NMG folded when Telcoms came under OUCS, but funding has been obtained and installation will happen 05/06
Provide a web-based shop ordering service to departments 0.4, 5.1
Extend SSO to encompass most or all OUCS services, and gain acceptance as a tool for use by other projects with similar needs throughout the University 4.5.1 WebLearn is linked to SSO; WebMail scheduled for Christmas 2005
Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Microsoft Active Directory services to provide integrated authentication across the department for all types of PC workstations 4.5.1 Work has got as far as it can on this, awaiting developments by external software companies
Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Macintosh OSX to provide integrated authentication across the department for Macintoshes 4.5.1 Work has begun but not complete. Note also Macs can now integrate with Netware environment
Introduce referral system for use of local IT support staff (resources permitting) 3.4 Starting in November
Introduce timetable expert diagnostic sessions (resources permitting) 3.4 Starting in November
Develop and deploy authoring system for OUCS staff, using Word 2003 and Open Office 5.1
Review OUCS documentation on use of XML standards; develop “how to” guide and training materials for staff use 5.1 More or less complete
Implement a suite of management reporting tools for OUCS web pages, to provide e.g. access statistics, early warning of expired or unused pages etc 5.1
Provide facilities for ITSS to manage their own users’ services 4.1.2
Redevelop Webreg as suite of web services for particular user communities (help centre, registration, shop, etc.) 4.5.1
Work towards real-time updates of registration and entitlement facilities 4.5.1
Report to ICTC 4.4.1 Summer 2006
In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, develop further recommendations on implementation of Skills Metric, report to ICTC, and then help ICTC implement 3.1, 3.2, 3.3 Awaiting staff return from maternity leave
Work with IAUL on evaluation tools and methodologies; assist IAUL in introducing e-learning material into their traditional training; report on developments to SMG and ICTC 4.3 Have met with IAUL representatives, and a further meeting is taking place
Report feasibility and potential benefits to SMG
Map out an initial e-Learning infrastructure, and the development of an MLE, and report to ICTC 4.3.1 LTG/RTS have successfully received external funding for several projects in this area. ICTC Strategy Sub-committee will be meeting in Trinity Term to discuss this
Investigate the feasibility of developing a more modular approach to the VLE allowing easy integration of tools, and run some trail projects 4.3.1 LTG/RTS have successfully received external funding for several projects in this area
Provide a platform to allow Personal development planning to be undertaken (Weblearn / LUSID / e-Portfolio) 4.5.4 LTG is working on the LUSID project funded by the ICTC Graduate Skills Committee
Continue work on the development of e-Portfolios in collaboration with University Offices LTG is working on the LUSID project funded by the ICTC Graduate Skills Committee
Establish an RTS Advisory Group, to meet twice a year, with minutes to ICTC and SMG Awaiting discussions over the ITRC
Organise a series of Research Technologies awareness events within the university 4.4.1 Awaiting discussions over the ITRC
Develop working practices and implement a rage of tools to assist in establishing the RTS as a converged service 4.4.1
Assist in the investigation into the applicability of e-Science to the humanities, and report to ICTC 4.4.1 Via VRE projects
Offer OUCS representation on departmental and college IT committees 0.4
Continuing activity expected of OUCS
Report, as necessary, to ICTC on areas where developments are required 5.1
Keep under review on-going developments in SAN technology and put forward case when appropriate 5.1 New file server delivered for Herald, but continually looking at SAN technologies
Work with and support departments requiring gigabit connections 4.1.1, 4.1.4
Co-operate with SERS in developments in curation and presentation of digital archive material 4.2
Review existing and nascent services on a regular basis 0.4, 5.1
Work with Card Office and other stakeholders to facilitate efficient deployment of SSO regime 4.5.1
In all cases, establish best practice recommendations 4.5.1
Implement a suite of management reporting tools to monitor statistics for phone fall-through times, email response times, staffing levels, etc covering both first and second level support activities 3.4
Hold two staff recruitment and training exercises annually 3.4
Ensure that at least 50% of regular frontline staff have attended at least one technical training session in the last 6 months 3.4
Review content of all existing internal web pages and report on areas in need of editorial change (in collaboration with Information Services section) 3.4
In collaboration with LTG, propose portfolio of generally useful online training materials and make them available in Help Area 3.4
Seek representation on relevant working groups 4.1.4
Organise annual ITSS conference 3.1
Organise at least 4 ITSS technical briefings on new or changed OUCS services 3.1
Seek OUCS representation on a significant number of departmental and college IT committees 0.4 Contacted Conference of Colleges; contacting Heads of Departments; now have representatives on all divisional IT Committees
Develop a forum for interchange of technical information relating to ISIDORE implementations 0.4
Using development projects, demonstrate the feasibility of and interoperable e-Learning architecture, in the context of a wider MLE 4.5.4 LTG/RTS have successfully received external funding for several projects in this area. Wherever appropriate this is being fed-back to MIS, and to the ICT strategy
Continue regular formal meetings with Project ISIDORE 4.5.4
Develop relevant projects under the auspices of the ACDT proposal scheme
Develop coherent web site and associated online services
Ensure maximum compatibility by making sure technical experts meet and discuss implementation of ISIDORE. Set up internal courses
Set up internal courses 5.4 Encouraging use of OSIRIS internally.
Introduce new management training for managers in OUCS 5.2
Awaiting ECE developments
Provide in-house support for laptops 4.1.3.2
Investigate the services of interest to PDA and mobile users and the types of services of interest to our community that can exploit such equipment, including the exploitation of GPS systems 4.1.3.2
Install some Linux workstations with significant applications including Open Office and Mozilla in the public area and monitor their usage and explore whether the University is in favour of this development
Abandoned
Research and evaluate available web searching technologies and report to SMG 5.1 Now responsibility of WSG
Provide personalised access to web pages via the OUCS portal 4.4.1

Section 2: Original Goals/Tasks/Objectives Outline

Mission Aims Objectives Goals/Tasks
To provide high-quality and cost-effective IT services that meet the needs of the University and its members
Provide a stable and integrated environment for the University, supporting existing and new technologies and functionality;
Keep all services under review to ensure they meets the needs of the University, and increase the range and scope of facilities and services in step with changing technologies and demands[5.1] 1.Report, as necessary, to ICTC on areas where developments are required
Ensure all services are based on reliable and sustainable technology, providing future flexibility[5.1] 2. Keep under review on-going developments in SAN technology and put forward case when appropriate
Ensure that the University network infrastructure will benefit from the new functionality available when the national network is upgraded to SuperJANET5[4.1.1, 4.1.4]
3. Complete the final parts of the backbone network upgrade to 10Gbps, with minimal disruption to service
4. Work with and support departments requiring gigabit connections
Plan for the introduction of a new network distribution model that will enable multiple service connections to be available to all units[4.1.1, 4.1.3] 5. Seek University support and funding for hardware required
Exploit virtual machine technology to develop high availability services and utility computing. The technology should also provide efficient and flexible systems administration[3.5]
6. Transfer telecommunications services and NSMS web services to new technology
7. Offer base servers for rent by units in the University
Put forward plans for the creation of a VOIP/security network [4.1.3.3] 8. Submit plans to Network Management Group and co-operate in developments by other stakeholders (Surveyors, Marshal, etc.)
Provide (or assist in the provision of) roving access facilities in most central areas of the University, and in colleges, enabling integrated support for all forms of mobile computing[4.1.3.2]
9. Complete OUCS wireless pilot project
10. Provide in-house support for laptops
11. Participate in University decision-making - regarding extent and funding of future developments.
12. Investigate the services of interest to PDA and mobile users and the types of services of interest to our community that can exploit such equipment, including the exploitation of GPS systems
Continue to develop the HFS service and widen its role as part of the University’s digital library and archive facilities[4.2]
13. Introduce additional TSM servers to cope with continued growth in demand
14. Evaluate and introduce new TSM features (such as collocated files on tape) to improve quality of service
15. Conduct pilot study/studies for the Central Filestore leading to a firm proposal
16. Co-operate with SERS in developments in curation and presentation of digital archive material
17. Update the hardware base underlying central service provision as required, taking advantage of developments in data storage technology (and potentially integrating with the Central Filestore)
Continue to monitor developments and best-practice to provide services consistent with the needs of a world-class University[0.4, 5.1]
18. Review existing and nascent services on a regular basis
19. Provide a web-based shop ordering service to departments
Develop Web Services architecture to enable application-to- application interactions within and beyond the University, to enhance the delivery and presentation of information to the end-user[4.5.3] 20. Undertake pilot feasibility study and report to ICTC
Investigate costs and methods of moving registration and other database applications away from vendor specific software in favour of Open Source solutions where applicable[4.5.1] 21. If appropriate, migrate and enhance registration database services to new server.
Continue work towards integration of services and development of University Single-Sign-On (SSO)[4.5.1]
22. Extend SSO to encompass most or all OUCS services, and gain acceptance as a tool for use by other projects with similar needs throughout the University
23. Work with Card Office and other stakeholders to facilitate efficient deployment of SSO regime
24. Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Novell’s NMAS method to provide integrated authentication across the department for all types of PC workstations
25. Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Microsoft Active Directory services to provide integrated authentication across the department for all types of PC workstations
26. Investigate the integration of the existing OUCS Kerberos implementation with Macintosh OSX to provide integrated authentication across the department for Macintoshes
27. In all cases, establish best practice recommendations
Improve the quality and consistency of the Help Centre service
Ensure continued provision of adequate and appropriate front-line support[3.4]
28. Implement a suite of management reporting tools to monitor statistics for phone fall-through times, email response times, staffing levels, etc. covering both first and second level support activities
29. Produce annual report on activities, common problems etc., primarily for ITSS conference
30. Hold two staff recruitment and training exercises annually
Improve continued availability of supplementary (second-level) support [3.4]
31. Introduce referral system for use of local IT support staff (resources permitting)
32. Identify and document suite of general purpose technical support procedures (e.g. operating system re-install)
33. Introduce timetabled expert diagnostic sessions (resources permitting)
34. Ensure that at least 50% of regular frontline staff have attended at least one technical training session in the last 6 months
Enhance take-up and deployment of online resources [3.4]
35. Re-launch internal home page as a collaboratively authored WIKI
36. Review content of all existing internal web pages and report on areas in need of editorial change (in collaboration with Information Services section)
Enhance availability of self-training materials [3.4] 37. In collaboration with LTG, propose portfolio of generally useful online training materials and make them available in Help Area
Improve the quality of information provision in line with the requirements for accessibility and University communications
Continue migration of OUCS documentation systems to Open Standards [5.1]
38. Master source of all static OUCS web pages held in validated XML
39. Develop and deploy authoring system for OUCS staff, using Word 2003 and Open Office
40. Review OUCS documentation on use of XML standards; develop "how to" guide and training materials for staff use
Enhance accessibility features of all OUCS information services [5.1] 41. Develop and deploy mechanism for routine monitoring and 6-monthly reporting on compliance of all OUCS web services with W3C WAI AA standards
Provide sophisticated cross-site searching facilities for university web pages [5.1]
42. Research and evaluate available web searching technologies and report to SMG
43. Implemented recommended search engine solution and promote to ITSS and institutional webmasters
Develop holistic strategy for OUCS information services [5.1]
44. Implement pilot WIKI application (for Help Centre staff) and report on usability and appropriateness of this technology
45. Implement a suite of management reporting tools for OUCS web pages, to provide e.g. access statistics, early warning of expired or unused pages etc
Contribute to the development of coherent University wide policies for access and entitlement.
Participate in documentation and creation of University access policies[4.1.4]
46. Seek representation on relevant working groups
47. Provide input to email addressing policy review
Simplify and streamline access procedures for entitled users[4.1.2]
48. Provide facilities for ITSS to manage their own users’ services
49. Provide facilities for users to manage their own email routings
Enhance OUCS registration services to take advantage of SSO regime[4.5.1]
50. Redevelop Webreg as suite of web services for particular user communities (help centre, registration, shop, etc.)
51. Work towards real-time updates of registration and entitlement facilities
Promote appropriate use of open standards and technologies
Research emerging areas of open interoperability standards[4.3.3] 52. LTG and RTS to collaborate closely, research the area, and report to ICTC
Investigate viability of Open Source Software on public workstations.[4.4.1]
53. Install some Linux workstations with significant applications including OpenOffice and Mozilla in the public area and monitor their usage and explore whether the University is in favour of this development
54. Report to ICTC
Collaborate closely with the University's IT Support Staff
Finalise deliverables of IT Metrics project[3.1, 3.2, 3.3]
55. Deliver draft Infrastructure Metric to ICTC and seek agreement that trial can be made
56. Assist ICTC in implementation of trial Infrastructure Metric and then full evaluation
57. In collaboration with relevant stakeholders, develop further recommendations on implementation of Skills Metric, report to ICTC, and then help ICTC implement
Enhance information flow amongst IT Support staff both within and outwith OUCS[3.1]
58. Organise annual ITSS conference
59. Organise at least 4 ITSS technical briefings on new or changed OUCS services
Participate in development of divisional and cross-University IT strategies [0.4]
60. Seek OUCS representation on a significant number of departmental and college IT committees
61. Develop a forum for interchange of technical information relating to ISIDORE implementations
To contribute to the University's wide range of IT training and relevant training resources
Investigate offering some OUCS courses online Decide appropriate set of courses[4.3] 62. Mount initial OUCS course material online under the VLE, and report to SMG and ICTC
Target outreach activities for the promotion and support of e-Learning in co-ordination with IAUL Seek closer cooperation with IAUL[4.3] 63. Work with IAUL on evaluation tools and methodologies; assist IAUL in introducing e-learning material into their traditional training; report on developments to SMG and ICTC
Further develop the OUCS course database and online booking system Make course booking more streamline and encourage even greater participation[4.3] 64. Aim to implement modular course booking, and report to SMG
Investigate the possibilities for full compliance with ‘Investors in People’ Evaluate whether IIP accreditation is worth aiming for 65. Report feasibility and potential benefits to SMG
To foster and support excellence, innovation, best practice, and value for money in the use of IT in teaching, learning, and research across the University
Further the work of LTG as the primary e-Learning centre for the University and a national centre of excellence
Assist in the development of an MLE in collaboration with other bodies across the University and within the University’s IT architecture[4.5.4.]
66. Using development projects, demonstrate the feasibility of an interoperable e-Learning architecture, in the context of a wider MLE
67. Continue regular formal meetings with Project ISIDORE
Develop VLE functionality in line with divisional requirements[4.3.1]
68. Map out an initial e-Learning infrastructure, and the development of an MLE, and report to ICTC
69. Investigate and promote the next level of VLE development and report to SMG
70. Further develop the VLE across the campus and report to ICTC in the light of regular user group meetings
71. Investigate the feasibility of developing a more modular approach to the VLE allowing easy integration of tools, and run some trail projects
Work on the development of a Personal Learning Environment (PLE)[4.5.4]
72. Provide a platform to allow Personal development planning to be undertaken (Weblearn / LUSID / e-Portfolio)
73. Continue work on the development of e-Portfolios in collaboration with University Offices
Increase the development of reusable and centralised e-Learning resources that serve the needs of multiple departments[4.3.1] 74. Develop relevant projects under the auspices of the ACDT proposal scheme
Continue to develop the RTS as a centre of expertise in supporting the development of academic e-Research e-Infrastructure and to effectively promote the activities of the RTS throughout the University
Seek resources or partnerships to initiate the scoping and piloting of appropriate parts of the VRE framework and core shared services[4.4.1] 75. Outline a (Service-Oriented) architecture for a VRE, which comprises interoperable services in support of the research life-cycle; report to ICTC
Seek to lead or collaborate on projects which pilot digital technologies on behalf of the University[4.4.1]
76. Establish an RTS Advisory Group, to meet twice a year, with minutes to ICTC and SMG
77. Organise a series of Research Technologies awareness events within the University
Develop an RTS business model.[4.4.1] 78. Investigate whether it is possible for RTS to apply (and recover) full economic costing to its own activities and others within OUCS, and report to SMG
Continue to develop the RTS as a converged service within OUCS[4.4.1]
79. Develop working practices and implement a range of tools to assist in establishing the RTS as a converged service
80. Develop coherent web site and associated online services
Seek further resources, in collaboration with ASUC and the RSO and others, to identify and encourage the development of interoperable services which address the needs of particular disciplines, methodologies or research management[4.4.1] 81. Assist in the investigation into the applicability of e-Science to the humanities, and report to ICTC
Offer more efficient, reliable and useful access to information by members of the University through personalised access to web pages, by creating an OUCS portal
Continue to support the development of portal services primarily facilitating more efficient and reliable access to OUCS services but, where appropriate, other services in collaboration with ASUC[4.4.1] 82. Provide personalised access to web pages via the OUCS portal
Promote take up of OUCS portal by developing specific portal services[4.4.1] 83. Develop points of integration between Weblearn, Webmail and the OUCS portal
Offer guidance to emerging Divisional IT committees Set in place structures to link with Divisional IT strategies[0.4] 84. Offer OUCS representation on departmental and college IT committees
Contribute to and liaise with the development of the new student records system. Prepare for introduction of ISIDORE in 2005 85. Ensure maximum compatibility by making sure technical experts meet and discuss implementation of ISIDORESet up internal courses
To develop OUCS staff skills and facilities
Continue to implement the new OSIRIS financial systems Further expand access to OSIRIS throughout OUCS [5.4] 86. Set up internal courses
Improve staff accommodation and training
Improve facilities for security team[5.4] 87. Complete new secure office
Appraise training needs for department and make recommendations[5.2] 88. Introduce new management training for managers in OUCS

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