IT Services



OUCS 5-year plan: 2006-2010


Contents



1. Overview

This document presents the five-year plan for Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS). It takes the approach of directly discussing the objectives raised in the University’s Corporate Plan 2005-6 to 2009-10, indicating targets identified by OUCS to meet these strategic objectives.

The plan is divided into several sections presenting a review of the current OUCS five-year Vision Statement (akin to an ‘operational plan’), and then a section-by-section analysis of the key strategies outlined in the Corporate Plan.



2. Executive Summary

This report sets our OUCS’s objectives for 2006-2011 in the light of the University’s Corporate Plan. We present a review of our existing Vision document (explained further in Appendix B), then a discussion of the University’s Corporate Plan and how it affects IT, and the new ICT Strategy and Enhanced Computing Environment. We then look at each section of the Corporate Plan and align our objectives to those presented there. Finally, in Appendix A, we present a summary of our predicted major capital investments.



3. Review of OUCS five year vision: 2005-2009

At the beginning of 2005 OUCS produced its five-year Vision Statement (see http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/internal/5yr/2003-2008.xml). This provided a detailed analysis of the future initiatives and developments within OUCS, listing a series of 88 specific goals and tasks and demonstrating how these took forward the aims and objectives of OUCS. This plan was ratified by ICTC.

Many of the principles outlined in that document are still applicable, notably our views on the local, national, and international context of IT (0.2 and 0.3), and the considerations of the strategic direction of computing at Oxford (section 2).

A review of the Vision Statement is enclosed in Appendix B. In summary this demonstrates how effective OUCS was in achieving many of its stated objectives:

This document is a more concise text but is written assuming the Vision Statement as a background, and readers are asked to refer to that. Specifically here, however, we concentrate on furthering the strategies of the University’s Corporate Plan.



4. University’s ICT Strategy and the Enhanced Computing Environment

In addition to the background of the Vision Statement already available from OUCS, it should be noted that two major University initiatives are underway which will have profound effects on the future direction of OUCS. The first is the development of a University ICT Strategy (see http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/strategy/). OUCS has been contributing to this extensively, and will seek to align its objectives to those emerging from the Strategy. However, this activity is not due to report until April 2006 and few recommendations have emerged so far. It should be noted therefore that this current five-year plan has been written on the understanding that it will have to be reconsidered once the University’s ICT Strategy is formalised. Where appropriate in this document we have referred to key work tasks of the ICT Strategy.

The second initiative is the Enhanced Computing Environment (ECE, see http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/team/). This is seeking to develop and roll-out an enhanced desktop service to OUCS, OULS, and Central Administration. It will do so via the formation of the ICT Team on the 1st January 2006, which will consist of staff drawn from existing units in the three services. It is envisaged that this will, in the future, also be offered to departments and colleges as a paid-for service.

The emergence of the ECE will also have an impact on OUCS. First, it will directly affect the demands on some of the core services we already offer and may require us to change direction with some of these. Second, the formal/informal relationship between the ICT Team and OUCS will need to be explored. Finally, if there is widespread take-up of the ECE across the University this will have a direct impact on the level and nature of support offered by OUCS. It is clearly too early to predict any of this, but undoubtedly this will require future adjustments to our strategy.



5. Corporate Plan 2005-6 to 2009-10

The University’s Corporate Plan was published in September 2005 (Supplement I to the Gazette, 136 (September, 2005).) after a lengthy consultation process. OUCS welcomed the publication of this document as it set out a pragmatic approach to ten key strategic target areas for Oxford, whilst at the same time protecting the values and overall principles of the University. Clearly the plan is aimed primarily at academic divisions and departments, and certain objectives (such as the targets for student numbers) are not directly relevant to OUCS. However, even such objectives may have a direct effect on OUCS’s services and the department needs to be ready to accommodate these. Furthermore, the impact of the Corporate Plan across the whole of IT within the University is being analysed by Work Task C of the ICT Strategy and OUCS will be monitoring its recommendations closely (http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/strategy/worktasks/c/).

What follows then is a section-by-section discussion of the ten strategic areas — focussing on key topics such as teaching, research, and overall support services. Under these we then list the key objectives OUCS proposes which will assist the University in meeting these strategies. It is important to note though, that ICT will increasingly be used to monitor, audit, and facilitate many of the administrative processes that support these strategies. It will also be used to disseminate information in a speedy and appropriate manner. Specifically then:

To abstract a key point from the above, OUCS will continue to be responsive to the needs of the academic users within the University, and will seek to further develop appropriate communication channels. Through its IT Support Staff Service the department already has excellent links with the dispersed IT Support throughout the University and it will seek to build on this. In addition, however, it will be proactively seeking to build links with academic users via division, department, and faculty IT committees; and via college links (formal and informal). Finally OUCS will be monitoring closely the recommendations to emerge from Work Task D of the University’s ICT Strategy which is focussing on the IT needs of the Collegiate University (http://www.ict.ox.ac.uk/strategy/worktasks/d/).



6. Meeting Strategic Objectives I: Research

One of the stated objectives in the mission statement of OUCS, and echoed in the Corporate Plan (§VI(d)), is 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’

OUCS has a dedicated support unit — the Research Technologies Service (RTS) (Specifically mentioned in §102.) (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/rts/) which, through funding from external bodies, develops cutting edge applications to support research, and provides advisory services for the University and beyond. The activities of the RTS complement the infrastructure and other support services provided by OUCS.

As described in the Corporate Plan the RTS is a centre of expertise supporting the development of research e-infrastructure, including e-science/e-research (§102). The RTS is working with other University departments to develop Virtual Research Environments (VRE) (Ib, and Ig). In connection with this, the RTS will also collaborate with the Interdisciplinary e-Research Centre (IeRC) and other relevant University units to investigate the development of tools to support the administration and auditing of research activity (Id). This activity includes an emphasis on assisting with project management and the sharing of research information and outputs, especially across disciplinary boundaries. One example of current activity in this area is the development of a Research Discovery Service (RDS) by the Academic Computing Development Team (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/acdt/) in partnership with the Medical Sciences Division and the Research Technologies Service. The RDS will be offered to other divisions also.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:



7. Meeting Strategic Objectives II: Learning and Teaching — Programmes and Methods

OUCS seeks to develop ICT where it supplements existing teaching methods, especially the tutorial system. This is the main approach of another of its units — the Learning Technologies Group (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/). With reference to IIb, via its Academic Computing Development Team, the group develops innovative projects alongside academics. Throughout 06/07 one of these projects will be the setting up and development of a Tutorial Reporting System, an initiative led by senior tutors at colleges and funded in part by the HEFCE E-learning Innovation Fund and by college contributions.

Elsewhere, under the WebLearn team (the University’s central VLE — see section 11), the Learning Technologies Group is directly working on an e-portfolio system in collaboration with the Graduate Skills Committee and the University’s Careers service (IIb, and IIg).

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:



8. Meeting Strategic Objectives III: Learning and Teaching — Size and Shape

OUCS is not directly affected by this strategic objective as it does not run matriculated courses for students, nor is it involved in student recruitment. However, a shift in the size or demographic of the student body will possibly affect the demands on some of the services offered by OUCS. We will be ensuring that the core services can meet any up-turn. In addition the LTG will continue to develop its relationship with the Department for Continuing Education’s Technology Assisted Lifelong Learning team.



9. Meeting Strategic Objectives IV: Learning and Teaching — Admissions and Access

Again OUCS is not directly affected by this strategic objective as it does not deal with admissions, nor is it involved in student recruitment. However, as noted above any major change in the size or demographic of the student body will possibly affect the demands on some of the services offered by OUCS. For example, increased recruitment of international students will necessitate seamless access to the Universities from increasing numbers of remote sites. We will be ensuring that the core services can meet any changes in demand.



10. Meeting Strategic Objectives V: Enterprise and Collaboration

OUCS’s main objective here is to further build up its links with national funding agencies such as HEFCE and JISC. In turn it will seek to inform faculties, departments, and colleges about new funding opportunities; as well as bidding for external grants to cover some of its own new initiatives. OUCS will also liaise with local bodies to identify opportunities to provide appropriate (and funded) IT training and certification where possible. Within this area it is worth mentioning the developments concerning the University alumni. OUCS has become closely involved with and committed to providing technical assistance for the University Society's requirements for supporting services to the alumni. We are now about to enter a major shift in scale, by planning developments to bring in all the old alumni (c.120,000) about which the development office have information some time later this year (possibly September/October). The developments required are well understood and

planning is in hand.



11. Meeting Strategic Objectives VI: Academic and Student Services

This section is of direct relevance to OUCS as it focuses on service provision. In particular §101 and §102 outline some key objectives for OUCS:

In addition there is an overriding need to make sure that developments in these areas, and others, meet the needs of academics and students (§104, §105, and IIf), and form a coherent structure. This is also a major area of concern for the ICT Strategy.

Undoubtedly over the next five years the landscape of IT will change dramatically. As noted in our Vision Statement we constantly strive to be aware of the changes in underlying technology, the changes in the demographic of the user, and the changes in the patterns of use. We note, for example, the almost ubiquitous rise in IT literacy across staff and students, and at the same time an integration of computing technology and access to information across a range of easy-to-use devices (such as the new generation of mobile phones). OUCS will aim to be in a position to tap into these new opportunities, but also recognises that this may shift the balance of IT support from user help to areas such as integration and interoperability.

In terms of underlying hardware we recognise the demands for wireless technology, roving access, and mobile learning. With the advent of the FroDo project, and the new network potential coming with SuperJanet 5 the University is in an excellent position to take forward all of this provided sufficient funding is made available. Changes are also taking place with telecoms, and OUCS (now in charge of Telecoms) is monitoring the progress of such initiatives as Voice over IP.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to do the following(It is also important to cross-refer this section with other key areas in this five-year plan, notably our strategies to facilitate research (section 6), and teaching and learning (section 7).). These will be the responsibility of several groups across the department; notably the Information and Support Group which contains the Information Systems team, Registration Services, the Research Technologies Services, and the IT Support Staff Service; the Infrastructure Group which includes Networks, System Development, Telecoms, and the HFS; our Technical Support Services, which contains our Network Systems and Services Team (NSMS); and our Learning Technologies Group, in charge of training, the VLE, and e-learning research and development..

All of the following specifically target VIc and VId of the Corporate Plan.

Information Support

[See also section 6 ‘Research’]

Infrastructure

Technology Support Services

Learning Technologies

[See also section 7 — ‘Learning and Teaching’]

General Strategy



12. Meeting Strategic Objectives VII: Personnel

OUCS is continues to improve its personnel procedures and improve career progression. Through its IT Support Staff Service it also seeks to promote career development of the dispersed IT Staff.



13. Meeting Strategic Objectives VIII: Space

The buildings and facilities at OUCS are currently running to capacity. Yet increasingly we are being asked to house major IT projects or initiatives (including staff and hardware). This has meant that our existing facilities, notably our machine room and office space, are overstretched.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:


14. Meeting Strategic Objectives IX: Finance

It is important that as well as facilitating administrative processes identified in the Corporate Plan, sufficient funding is diverted to IT projects and services, and money is made available to allow OUCS to upgrade its existing services, and add new ones as required. The financial burden of adding new IT services and maintaining them must be recognised by the University. Furthermore, procedures must be adopted to streamline any increased revenue arising from the adoption of Full Economic Costing for central services into the infrastructure charge.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:



15. Meeting Strategic Objectives X: Governance and Management

OUCS is participating in the discussions relating to governance in the ICT Strategy. It is particularly concerned with achieving some form of cohesive planning for major IT initiatives, and a reporting line to senior management in the new University structure that recognises the critical importance of IT to the running of the University and the success of the Corporate Plan.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to:



16. Key Performance Indicators

OUCS measures it’s performance on use of its services, and user satisfaction surveys. Both of these are analysed and reported on in its Annual Report which is circulated in print form and via the Web. Primarily we focus on increases or decreases in the use (number of users, traffic, patterns of use, etc) of our core services to monitor progress and identify areas of improvement. We also receive qualitative feedback through our links with IT Support Staff and appropriate IT Committees and User Groups.



17. Risk Analysis

The risk to the University of not completing or achieving most of the above mainly falls under two categories. First our IT infrastructure will be compromised, especially with relation to business continuity; but also in terms of the facilities we can offer to the staff and students. Oxford would begin to seriously fall behind its competitors in terms of what it can support. Second, picking up on a common theme throughout this plan, unless concerted efforts are made to target interoperability between systems and data, a fragmented IT infrastructure will emerge which will lead to considerable inefficiencies.

However, a few further objectives are worth noting:



18. Summary of Objectives

The objectives outlined above directly target the key areas of the University’s Corporate Plan. Below is a tabular summary of these:

Objective Corporate Plan Section Date (Unless otherwise stated this is an ongoing activity.) Estimated Cost (Unless otherwise stated this will be absorbed within OUCS’s current budget, or costs cannot be fully assessed yet.)
General
Develop, bring in, and support systems to facilitate the administrative processes behind teaching and research VId
Develop and support communication tools that facilitate speedy dissemination of information to people on demand — notably single sign-on, open standards, and a portal VI
Act in a customer-driven way developing its services to the needs of the academics and students within the University VIc
Assist in the development of the Enhanced Computing Environment by offering appropriate support to the new ICT Team X
Monitor and assist in the development of the University’s ICT Strategy X
Research I, VId, Ib, Id, and Ig
Develop infrastructure and tools for the next generation of collaborative research environments (VREs)
Develop and launch an online Research Discovery Service MT06 £15k pa
Investigate and report on new authorisation services Sept 06
Monitor and advise on open source developments
Make available resources and services via the UK National Grid Service
Proactively support the establishment of an institutional research repository
Promote OUCS (and other) services for assisting in the development of funding proposals for e-research
Co-ordinate, on behalf of OUCS, a range of awareness-raising and training activities relating to services and technologies to support e-research Oct 06
Provide an opportunity to buy in IT services via our NSMS unit
Teaching and Learning II, IIb, IIc
Launch the Tutorial Reporting System (OxCort) MT07 £15k pa
Develop and promote the use of the VLE WebLearn; secure its funding 2007 £150k pa
Research and implement technology that provides teachers and learners with assessment technologies
Research and implement technology that allows learners to share and express their understanding, e.g. blogs/wikis etc
Explore the potential of reusable learning objects
Develop a Training Needs Analysis tool to point people at appropriate courses 2007
Academic and Student Services I, II, VIc, VId
Create a shared information environment for use of IT Support Staff March 06
Establish and promote a service for creating, publishing and aggregating RSS news items Feb 06
Develop a coherent Information Strategy across the department
Promote TEI XML markup as a preferred archival format for digital texts in the university
Introduce LINUX desktop systems into the help centre Jan 07
Expand (charged) PC hardware repair and maintenance service Aug 06
Upgrade the University’s backbone network 2009 £1m
Review cabling, and update or replace existing cables and ducts 2007 £0.6m
Promote guidelines for the Oxford Wireless service (OWL)
Seek University funding to promote the use of mobile access, via handheld devices and wireless technology 2006 £1.5m, + 150k pa
Investigate and support the introduction of Internet Protocol Version 6
Plan and migrate University telecom systems to Voice over IP (VoIP) 2009 £2-3m
Major upgrade to the Hierarchical File Server (HFS) 06/07 £450k
Introduce second tape library for HFS 2007 £500k
Replace automated tape library for HFS 2009 £300k
Invest in a filestore and repository system 06/07 £800k, + 100k pa
Provide IT Consultancy and Managed Services on a chargeable basis via NSMS
Space VIII
Identify new opportunities to solve the accommodation problem and relieve pressure on the machine room
Fund the series of major capital investment projects outlined in Appendix A
Finance IX
Align OUCS’s spending plans and cycles with the recommendations to emerge from Work Tasks H and I of the ICT Strategy which are focusing on large-scale IT investments
Investigate which services might be costed into research grants as 'directly incurred' rather than remaining within 'indirect' under FEC
Provide advice on writing bids via our RTS unit, and also on the implications of FEC and TRAC and the opportunity to buy-in IT support and development via our NSMS unit


OUCS 5-Year Plan: Major Capital Investments

The major capital investments that OUCS will need to cover fall under the area of supporting the University’s infrastructure, as outlined in the Corporate Plan in VI. What follows is a considered list of the major capital investment needed by Oxford to maintain its IT and Telecoms networks, and to expand them to meet the demands of a word-class University. We are already falling behind our competitors in areas such as wireless networking, institutional filestores, and repositories; and our network backbone will need major investment over the next few years.

In the list below, where possible, estimated timescales and costs are outlined.

1. Networking

1.1 The backbone network switching structure was upgraded to 10 Gbs in 2004. This will provide capacity until the next step-wise upgrade. On past experience this can be expected towards the end of the 5-year window. OUCS envisages that £1M should be budgeted for this. However, one area of uncertainty is the security aspects of a higher-speed network, and adequate control may depend on developments (such as high-speed firewalls) that cannot yet be predicted.

1.2 The network infrastructure is based around ducts and fibres installed in 1984. Although this continues to serve us well, the time is now long overdue to review cable provision to increase capacity and replace outdated cables. The issues of resilience should also be reconsidered. Although resilience has always been a prime consideration, a new risk-assessment, including the increasing demands of teaching, research and administration, may require extra resilience to be provided, including duplication of switching equipment and cable routes. This should be carried out in the next two years, and it is suggested that £0.6M should be budgeted.

1.3 The FroDo project has been funded and is underway. (The colleges have recently agreed, at least in principle, their contribution.) This will open up several new prospects, the main one of which is wireless networking.

1.4 Roving access must be high on the agenda of the ICT Strategy Group. In some cases, particularly colleges, wireless access (conforming to the model already established) may be expected to come about incrementally after the foundations are laid by FroDo. Central areas, for example libraries, may be more problematic. A bid last year for funds for provision of wireless access in 60 main University buildings was turned down, but this must be revisited. The layout of Oxford (and the construction of many buildings) means this is an expensive process. To equip 60 main buildings, budgetary costs are £1.5M capital. Recurrent equipment costs may be estimated at £100k. Running this network would require approximately two FTE.

Increased use of this technology will open up many other areas for exploration, and the opportunity to provide services directed at PDA and other mobile users.

1.5 Internet Protocol Version 6 (IPv6) can be expected to be introduced in the next 2-3 years. This will present major technical challenges (throughout the University), but the capability is already there in the switching equipment, and no significant capital or recurrent expenditure is anticipated.

1.6 The Telephone Infrastructure is based on aging analogue technology, but at the moment is extremely reliable and fully maintainable. The next five years must see a change to VoIP technology, driven by demand for new services. Minor pilots will be carried out, but it is expected that the first major installation will be for the development of the Radcliffe Infirmary site. Funding for this will come as part of the RI site costs. However, a major transfer of the University telephone infrastructure to VoIP may be expected towards the end of the 5-year period. A migration strategy will have to be planned, and until this is done costs and timescales must be very uncertain, but overall costs are expected to be in the region of £2-3M.

1.7 Networking for VoIP and Building Management. OUCS has been funded to install a separate ‘secure’ backbone network that will provide the basic IP-based switching structure for the telephone network, and will be available for building-management and security functions. These will be arranged as needed by the Estates Department, and funded from the building projects needing the facility.

1.8 External Connectivity. SuperJanet 5 is expected to be installed in 2006, and it is hoped that Oxford will have a 10Gbs connection. Costs of this will be met from OUCS recurrent funding. The installation of FroDo gives an opportunity to consider again whether a separate commercial link should be provided. Some colleges are already using such a connection for conference use, and there has been discussion on whether some of the legal burdens on the University could be eased by using an ISP for residential access. FroDo would enable a central service to be provided for all colleges — it is not expected that this would come from University funds.

1.9 Security. The University continues to be a prime target for outside attack, and is also under constant threat from the deliberate and accidental actions of its members. OUCS has recently increased manpower in this area.

2. Central Services

2.1 Mail services. OUCS makes continual investment in central mail facilities to keep up with ever-increasing demand, both in the numbers and volume of email. A major investment has recently been made to provide a resilient and expandable fileserver for the Herald cluster, which will be brought into service early in 2006. If the IT Strategy leads to greater use of the central mailstore, further capacity will be required, and extra back-up facilities provided. £400k should be allocated for this.

2.2 Authentication and Authorisation Services. The ICT Strategy Group must consider authentication and directory services in a University-wide context, especially with regard to the supply and sharing of information from MIS projects and databases. OUCS will continue to develop and roll-out facilities.

2.3 WebLearn VLE. The VLE team has been primarily funded by external sources. However, security of funding must be achieved from central University funds to secure the long-term future of this important project. £150k per annum will be required to cover staff and hardware maintenance.

3. FileServer

3.1 The HFS Service must constantly expand to keep up with demand, and to cater for new and developing areas. Amongst areas that may need considering in the future are undergraduate backup, PDAs and other mobile devices, and system images. The last major upgrade (with HEFC funding) was completed in 2003. Extra storage capacity has recently been purchased from OUCS recurrent funding, and will be installed in early 2006. A more major upgrade, to replace the ageing P-Series processors, will be planned in 2006; £100k should be budgeted. A further £150k is needed to replace the ageing tape media. It is also important to upgrade the older tape drives over the next two years, at a cost of about £200k. In the slightly longer term a review is needed of on-site and off-site storage, with an intention of installing a second tape library at a separate location. This, apart from giving greater security, will relieve capacity bottlenecks by allowing duplicate copies to be made off the main library. A budgetary cost for this is £0.5M. Obsolescence of the 10-year old automated tape library at OUCS has begun (ie some parts are no longer being sold) and its replacement will become necessary around the end of the 5-year period. It is difficult to predict costs so far in advance in a changing market, but on present costs about £300k will be needed.

3.2 Departmental backup. An objective over the next three-four years should be to provide a more unified approach to support of backup, using a hierarchy or cluster of TSM servers and tape library devices, some of which can be located in user departments, giving them more direct control of local backup while still using the deep-storage facilities of the HFS. This could also lead to a greater emphasis on facilitating faster recovery of vital systems. It is expected that the ICT Strategy will address this general question. The budgetary cost would be £50-100k per unit, depending on size. This is highly dependent on a review of requirements.

3.3 ‘University Filestore’. The areas of filestore and repository must be a priority for consideration in the ICT Strategy because (a) the amount of data that the University holds is growing exponentially, and there is at present no framework for managing that data reliably and securely; (b) there are areas of new and pending legislation which will impose obligations on the University, and where it is necessary for it to be able to demonstrate compliance; (c) increasingly the University’s assets, in particular its library material and archives, will be held (sometimes solely) in digital form. Any policy must address two elements: a common tree structure so that data anywhere in the University could be accessed by anyone (with appropriate authorisation); and a central fileserver architecture providing a range of facilities, including a large-scale, high-performance repository, with secure backup and off-line facilities. Clearly a lot of this would be outside the remit of OUCS. Without guidance on the extent to which this might be addressed cost cannot be determined, however as an indication, a 100TB SAN-based system (one of several options) should be expected to cost about £0.8M, and require at least 2 FTE to support it.

4. User Facilities

4.1 Training Rooms and Help Centre. Unless OUCS relocates the pressure on existing user areas will have to be alleviated. Although two of our lecture rooms have been modernised recently (one through the HEFCE E-learning fund), our other two will need to be worked on soon, and possibly a fifth lecture room may need to be built. In addition our help centre facilities will need to be developed. Work on both of these should commence in 07, with an estimated budget of around £0.5m.



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.):

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:

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