IT Services

Oxford University Computing Services five-year plan: 2008-2013


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. At present this forms the best overview of the strategic direction of the University, but during the course of 2008 it is recognised that the University’s Strategic Plan will emerge though it is suggested the general objectives listed here would remain the same.

The plan is divided into sections presenting a review of last year’s OUCS five-year plan, and then a section-by-section analysis of the key strategies outlined in the University’s Corporate Plan.

This document by OUCS is reviewed by its internal User Services Team, before presenting to the PRAC ICTC sub-committee (PICT) and the OUCS Management sub-committee (a sub-group of PICT).

2. Executive Summary

This report sets OUCS’s objectives for 2008-2013 in the context of the University’s Corporate Plan. We present a review of our last five-year plan, then a discussion of the new governance structure for ICT formed in 2007. We then look at each section of the Corporate Plan and align our objectives to those presented there.

Certain key objectives do stand out, however. Many of which depend on existing funding proposals under the emerging ICT Capital envelope.

In addition each of our groups have set forth an ambitious plan of improving the services offered to users.

3. Review of OUCS five year vision: 2007-2012

At the beginning of 2007 OUCS produced its five-year plan(see This provided a detailed analysis of the future initiatives and developments within OUCS, listed a series of specific goals and tasks and demonstrated how these took forward the aims and objectives of OUCS linked to the Corporate Plan.

By considering the success we have had in discharging the objectives we are able to demonstrate how effective OUCS has been over the last year:

4. The Governance of ICT at Oxford

The University's Corporate Plan includes a commitment to develop an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) strategy for the collegiate University. In 2005 the University's Council approved a proposal to establish an ICT Steering Group with a remit to develop and bring forward an ICT Strategic Plan for the collegiate University. The full version of the plan is available at: The ICT Strategic Plan recognised that the University of Oxford needed co-ordinated IT governance, a single forum for setting strategy and agreeing priorities. The ICT Sub Committee of PRAC was therefore established and the new post of Director of Information Technology (IT) was established. This necessitated the establishment of an additional post – Director of Computing Systems and Services – with a specific remit for the strategic, financial, and managerial development of OUCS.

In Trinity Term 2007, Council approved the creation of a new ICT Sub-committee of the Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC), replacing the existing ICT Committee of Council. The necessary changes in regulations were published in the Gazette on 11 October 2007 and came into effect on 26 October 2007.

The PRAC ICT Sub-committee is a single point of governance for ICT across the collegiate University, and the principal advisory body to PRAC and Council and other University bodies on all aspects of ICT. It determines a strategy and policy framework for the collegiate University, and reviews the scale, quality and cost effectiveness of the services offered directly to users by the Oxford University Computing Services. It is establishing an ICT framework to enable centrally and locally provided services to work together efficiently, reliably and cost effectively.

Furthermore, the procedures through which ICT is funded have been reviewed and revised. A Capital ‘envelope’ for funding (referred to throughout this document) has been established and will allow major funding to be directed to key IT initiatives in which OUCS will take the main lead. Moreover, the services offered by OUCS have been analysed following the recommendations of the Services Funding Working Group, each service having a defined ‘Service Level Description’ and Divisions have been able to specify their future requirements for the first time. This will be used to determine future funding allocations.

In parallel, the Enhanced Computing Environment project has progressed (ECE, see led by the ICT Support Team (not formally part of OUCS). This is rolling-out an enhanced desktop service to OUCS, OULS, and Central Administration. The ICT Team was formed on the 1st January 2006, and consists of staff drawn from existing units in the three services. It is envisaged that the ECE will, in the future, also be offered to departments and colleges as a paid-for service.

5. Key Underlying Principles

The University’s Corporate Plan was published in September 20051 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 direct consequences for 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 was analysed by Work Task C of the ICT Strategy and fed into the final document ( It is recognised, however, that 2008 will witness the completion of the University’s emerging Strategic Plan though initial drafts indicate that this will not affect our strategic directions.

What follows in this document, therefore, is a section-by-section discussion of the ten strategic areas of the plan – 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 OUCS will:

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 develop further appropriate communication channels. In the last year it has set up a Prototyping section specifically tasked with meeting academics, proactively collecting feedback, and assessing user needs. It has also just set up an Innovation Team to filter through new suggestions for consideration and development as appropriate. These may be requests for changes to existing services, or the development of new services within OUCS. The department has also established a series of representatives (‘reps’) who are attached to a specific department or college and liaise with the academics there to again get feedback on OUCS services. 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).

5.1. Reviewing OUCS’s Performance

Throughout 2007 OUCS has undertaken a service-by-service analysis with the Divisions (following the recommendations of the Services Funding Working Group), looking at funding, enhancements, etc. We now believe we have a transparent process in which on an annual basis the new OUCS Management sub-committee will be able to analyse our services (as defined in our complete set of Service Level Descriptions), suggest changes, look at usage, and set the budget for the following academic year. This is but one stage in a now established review process of OUCS. This includes:

All of these will be overseen by the OUCS Management sub-committee.

5.2. Maintaining OUCS’s Existing Services

OUCS provides the University with a set of key services and systems that are critical to the University’s core activities (e.g. the University backbone network, email servers, hierarchical file store, training programme, advice and support). The highest priority is to make sure that these are fully staffed and resourced to maintain the existing level of service (as defined in our SLDs). The changing needs of the University together with advances in technology requires OUCS to continually review and, where appropriate, enhance, expand, or discontinue services. Therefore, the five-year plan lists specific objectives relating to OUCS which aim to ensure that critical services can continue to meet the requirements of the University.

As we have noted elsewhere, and as is clearly visible in our annual reports, the increasing demand for OUCS services shows no signs of abating. Many examples of this are available in OUCS’s Annual Report4 for 2006-7. As a result it is increasingly difficult for OUCS to meet the levels of demand, both in terms of the number of users and also the level of service, faced by these services.

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) 5 ( 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. To assist with this and the development of OUCS’s own research strategy, we appointed in 2007 a full-time Research Facilitator to take forward these activities.

As described in the Corporate Plan the RTS is a centre of expertise supporting the development of research e-infrastructure ( §102). The RTS is working with other University departments to establish the ICT requirements of their research communities (Ib, and Ig). In connection with this, the RTS particularly collaborates with the Oxford e-Research Centre (OeRC6) and other relevant University units to investigate the development of tools to support the administration and auditing of research activity – especially relevant with the proposed forthcoming changes to the RAE (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 is its contribution to the Oxford Research Archive initiative.

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 services where they supplement existing teaching methods, especially as part of the tutorial system. This is the main approach of another of OUCS’s units – the Learning Technologies Group ( With reference to IIb, the group researches and advises on innovative approaches to teaching using IT. The LTG also runs and develops WebLearn. This will be taken forward by migrating to the SAKAI framework with launch of a new WebLearn planned for 2009. This involves collaborative projects with the Universities of Cambridge, Hull, and Lancaster in the UK; and worldwide ANU, Harvard, MIT, NYU, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UCSB, UNISA, Stockholm etc.

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 from the Corporate Plan 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 (and potentially the infrastructure charge). This has emerged as a key finding from the Services Funding Working Group and it has been calculated that an extra ‘unit’ places a burden of c. £4,000 on OUCS, and an extra user £80 per annum. We will be ensuring that the core services can meet any up-turn assuming appropriate funding is found.

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. In addition, changes to the admissions process and recording of student data may also impact on our services. We will ensure that the core services can meet any changes in demand. Moreover, OUCS is proactively working with Student Systems, and will participate in the ongoing review of student administration and services.

10. Meeting Strategic Objectives V: Enterprise and Collaboration

OUCS’s main objective here is to build up further its links with national funding agencies such as HEFCE, JISC, the Research Councils, and to seek sponsorship for major IT projects through the Development Office, OUCS’s own Research Facilitator, and KTPs. 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.

11. Meeting Strategic Objectives VI: Academic and Student Services

This section is of direct relevance to OUCS as it focuses on service provision. We have already noted earlier that a key priority of OUCS is to maintain its core service provision and to expand (wherever possible). Here we look at specific targets for the next five years.

As a result of the ICT Strategy, and discussions at the SFWG meetings, OUCS has identified three key projects that will directly enhance the services offered to staff and students:

Requests for funding have now been submitted to PICT as part of the Capital ‘envelope’.

With reference initially to the Corporate Plan, sections §101 and §102 outline some key objectives for OUCS:

Corporate Plan Objectives Comment
Assist in the development of the University’s ICT Strategy This is now complete and the Strategy has been ratified.
Contributing towards the establishment of a common computing environment (now termed the ‘enhanced computing environment’) OUCS is assisting in this project (aka the ECE project) which is now being led by a team separate from OUCS, the ICT Support Team.
Develop and support high quality infrastructure services (especially the network backbone, e-mail, web servers, backup, security, and training) Ongoing – see specific objectives below.
Developing new services Ongoing – see specific objectives below.
Improving network connection Ongoing – see specific objectives below. This was also facilitated by the agreement to fund an extra post in the Network Support Team from 2007-2010, and a request to the ICT Capital envelope to support key network enhancements.
Working on wireless and mobile access, Ongoing – a key request under the Capital envelope.
Working in a federated environment with the distributed IT Staff Ongoing. OUCS will also be working closely with the new ICT Forum.
Foster effective use of IT in all disciplines Ongoing, especially through our Learning Technologies Group and Research Technologies Service (see above, 6 and 7).
Provide training and tailored courses Ongoing. OUCS courses currently attract over 13,000 attendees per annum.
Support and promote the Virtual Learning Environment Ongoing. Funding for the development to Weblearn 2.0 has now been secured until 2010.
Develop reusable and centralised e-learning resources Ongoing. Focus has also shifted to repositories to hold this material.
Promote research e-infrastructure (VREs, escience, etc) Ongoing, see especially section 6 above.

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. To do this OUCS has taken forward the key recommendations of the SFWG, has set up a central client relations team, and a series of formal and informal links with colleges and departments via our OUCS Reps system.

Undoubtedly over the next five years the landscape of IT will change dramatically. We constantly strive to be aware of the changes in underlying technology, the changes in the demographics of the user base, and the changes in the patterns of use. We note, for example, the 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). We have also observed that the number of Macintosh computers at the University is growing steadily with a recorded 20% ownership amongst first-year students, and wholesale shifts to Macs by some departments. OUCS needs to respond to this by offering increased support for Macs, but also exploit the opportunities offered by such things as dual-boot Macs, OS 10.5, and the iPhone and iTouch.

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 infrastructure we note above the demands for wireless technology, roving access, and mobile learning. With the near completion of the FroDo project, and the network potential offered by 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 gradually rolling out such initiatives as Voice over IP.

We also note the drive to combat spiralling power costs by investigating key issues on reducing electricity consumption, and also the carbon footprint of IT.

Specifically therefore, over the next five years OUCS plans to achieve the objectives listed in the next section8. These will be the responsibility of several groups across the department, notably the:

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

Select and launch Groupware service MT 2008 (pilot version). Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund.
Roll out wireless service. 2008/2009. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund.
Assist in completion of Core User Data service. 2008-2009.
Refurbish lecture rooms and basement areas. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. Need to create a fifth lecture room, and refurbish OUCS basements to release storage capacity.
To mitigate risks associated with the OUCS Computer Room 2008 - 2010£1M. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. In 2007/08 recruit a Computer Room Operations Manager at reasonably senior level. Initiate a project proposal for the refurbishment of the OUCS Computer Room. Continue to make a significant contribution to any project for an alternative, shared, University computer room.
To deploy a group management service as part of the suite of OUCS access management services available to the collegiate University 2008 - 2009 OUCS will deploy a series of authorisation services, beginning with a read-only LDAP service, to complement the webauth/kerberos authentication service, from March 2008. The development of a groups management service, beginning with a read-only service, is required by the Weblearn Sakai project, the groupware deployment, and other services provided by the wider University. It is planned to deploy a pilot read-only groups service by Sept 2008 and a full groups management service by Sept 2009.
To ensure the backup and archiving service (HFS) meets both capacity and University requirements. 2007 - 2009 OUCS is reviewing the HFS archiving policy in order to raise the profile of the service; ensure that where appropriate costs are recovered from grant-funded research projects; and integrate the HFS with other long-term file storage activities within the University. In order to meet capacity and ensure resilience, it will be necessary to replace end-of-life servers and, in due course, the tape library (which is over ten years old).
Investigate how server virtualisation technology can best be exploited for the provision of services from OUCS, and tie into the reduction of energy costs. 2008 OUCS has set up a Virtualisation SIG and has considerable experience of virtualisation via its NSMS service.
Further develop a Podcasting solution for the wider University 2008 Currently looking at Apple’s Podcast Producer and iTunesU to supplement existing OxITEMS service.
Continue Development of the Apple Supported Desktop Solution, and increase overall level of support for Macs. 2007 - 2009 Led by NSMS and ICT ST.
Develop Software Licence Management Service 2008 Redeployed staff to this resource, also investigating streamlining of invoicing procedures.
Investigate shared storage investigations 2008 OUCS has set up a Storage SIG.
Increase network resilience and security enhancements 2008 – 2011. £605K with £50K recurrent. The plan is to increase the resilience and security of the voice and data networks by improvements to the duct and fibre infrastructure along with the distribution structures associated with them (such as MDX rooms)
Continue to support the teaching of modelling on MBA, Biology, Economics and Social Science degrees and Postdoc programmes. 2008 onwards Funding received for this from EduServe.
Deliver the Low Carbon ICT project to provide the University with technology and information that optimises the use of existing ICT infrastructure (so reducing the environmental damage caused by University operations). 2008-9 Part of a wider investigation into reducing energy costs and the carbon footprint of IT. This is a joint project with the OeRC and OUCE.
Promote revenue generating Thames Suite bookings. 2008
Integrate training for Macs into general courses and promote specific training 2008
Undertake an accessibility audit to ensure online training material is compliant. Jan 08 to June 08
Coordinate a range of awareness-raising activities relating to services and technologies to support elearning. TT 08.
Introduce a parallel Sakai/Bodington VLE service by June 2009. June 09.
Integrate the new VLE service with OUCS-developed Oak Authorisation and Groups Service by Mid 2009 June 09.
Plan an exit strategy from the Bodington/WebLearn service including migration of all data, development of new training materials, and training of staff members. 08-09.
Explain, promote, and support good practice in web site management for the University, especially advising the University’s Web Strategy Group. Ongoing.
Continue to run a shared information environment for use of ICT Forum (the ITSS wiki), as well as developing secure delegated services aiming to enhance the facilities available to IT support staff across the collegiate University. Ongoing.
Investigate and, if appropriate, implement a further streamlining of OUCS’s front of house services. TT 08.
Provide support for TEI XML projects. Ongoing.

12. Meeting Strategic Objectives VII: Personnel

OUCS is continues to improve its personnel procedures and improve career progression. Two documents have been produced for staff outlining career progression and decision-making at OUCS. OUCS staff are also encouraged to join internal SIGs, new teams, and trained in project management methodology. 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.

All of these issues were discussed at length in meeting with the Divisions following the Services Funding Working Group (SFWG) throughout 07. A final report outlining the conclusions of these meetings will be sent to the Heads of Divisions and escalated up to PRAC.

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

15. Meeting Strategic Objectives X: Governance and Management

See section 4 above.

16. Monitoring Performance

OUCS now has an established process whereby its performance is assessed by its users, and its plans are aligned to user demands. This includes:

All of these will be overseen by the OUCS Management sub-committee.

17. Risk Analysis

As with all departments and divisions OUCS will prepare and maintain an annual risk register. However, with reference to this plan 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 the critical funding issues identified by the SFWG meetings are tackled then key services will be put at risk.

Throughout 2006-7 OUCS has also assisted in several reports by the external auditors. These have pointed to three key issues:

Appendix 1: Analysis of Key Objectives set in Previous Five-Year Plan

Develop infrastructure and tools for the next generation of collaborative research environments and provide a co-ordinating role for Oxford's VRE activities. The RTS will assist departments wishing to respond to future relevant funding opportunities and will seek funding to scope and, where relevant, pilot institutional VRE services. Target date: Ongoing (VRE); April 2007 (scoping/pilot proposal); Achieved, and new work ongoing. OUCS staff are contributing as Co-Investigator to the Humanities Division project, “A VRE for the Study of Documents and Manuscripts” (JISC-funded, April 2007 to March 2009).
Develop and launch an online Research Discovery Service available to all divisions, building on the system deployed by the Medical Sciences Division. Target date: MT 07. Cost: Developed by the ACDT, but maintenance cost c.£15k pa. Achieved (in part) 2007. Service within Medical Sciences has slow uptake. No funding has been identified for continued roll-out.
Initiate a project to deploy a production Shibboleth-based access management service 1 to enable access to current Athens-protected information resources and provide integration between institutional and national information environments. Target date: Jan 2007 (Funded via ESP-Grid, SPIE and ShibGrid projects); July 2007 The infrastructure was deployed by July 2007. OUCS continue to contribute to the Athens migration work through membership of an OULS-OUCS Shibboleth Working Group.
Through OSS Watch inform and advise the UK HE and FE community about open source software and open standards through briefing materials, events, advisory service and partnerships. In 2006-2008 two particular areas of focus will be: assisting JISC-funded projects with implementation of the JISC open source policy; and working with technology transfer units in UK HE and FE to understand licensing and exploitation route for OSS Target date: Ongoing. (Funded via the JISC OSS Watch advisory service 2 ) Ongoing OSS Watch has advised JISC and research council-funded projects in Oxford on the development of communities to support software development, and licensing issues. A proposal for continued funding for OSS watch, from Aug 2008-Jul 2010 has been submitted to the JISC.
Collaborate with the OeRC on projects and activities which support research across subject areas through the use of advanced ICT. OUCS is represented on the OeRC Directorate and in 2006/2007 an OUCS-OeRC liaison post will be established to assist in identifying and developing collaborative projects. Through the RTS, OUCS will work with the OeRC to establish a process and the funding models by which the development of e-infrastructure can flow into service provision. Target date: Jan 2007 (liaison post); August 2007 (service model) Ongoing OeRC-OUCS liaison post was agreed with 0.5 FTE based in the OeRC and facilitating joint activities. OUCS senior managers have contributed to the OeRC Directorate and the Management Board.
Proactively support the establishment of institutional repository services, particularly through representation on the Oxford Digital Repositories Steering Group, the Oxford Research Archive Steering Group, and joint projects with the Library Services and other departments. Target date: Ongoing; ASK completed Sep 07, BID project and other initiatives ongoing. Completed JISC funded ASK project and won further funding to integrate Learning Services with Library and e-Science services under the BID project. Project team is working with digital repositories steering groups.The Oxford Digital Repositories Steering Group, chaired by the PVC (Research & ASUC) was established in Trinity Term 2007. OUCS contributed to a successful bid to the John Fell Fund for a one year Digital Repositories Research Coordinator post, the line management of whom is shared between OUCS and OULS (with the postholder based in the OeRC). OUCS is a partner in the JISC-funded Bridging the Interoperability Divide (BID) digital repositories project led by OULS and in partnership with the OeRC. OUCS continues to be represented on the Oxford Research Archive Steering Group.
Promote OUCS (and other) services for assisting in the development of funding proposals for e-Research and the application of best practice in the creation, use and preservation of digital resources. In addition, raise awareness about IT support services offered by OUCS’s NSMS service 3 or research projects and ensure that OUCS premium services are properly allocated by research projects within the FEC model Target date: Ongoing. Funded via activities such as Oxford Text Archive, Intute Arts and Humanities, VREs etc; Ongoing. Responsibility of the newly recruited Research Coordinator, and also work has been progressed on classifying some of NSMS’s services as a small research facility.
Co-ordinate, on behalf of OUCS, a range of awareness-raising and training activities relating to services and technologies to support e-research. Target date: October 2007. Funded through existing initiatives Achieved Oct 07 Training for Graduate students has been successfully run in M07 and T08, and will be repeated. Certain services are now Bytesize courses.
Through participating in the ICT Strategy Programme and subsequent implementation planning, assist in developing an e-Research support strategy which addresses the need for clear, coherent and co-ordinated IT support for research, whether projects or individual scholars. Target date: April 2008. Ongoing Responsibility of the newly recruited Research Coordinator
Continue the roll-out of ASPIRE with the Careers Service. Target date: Ongoing; Completed. Pilot launched TT 07, full service MT 07.
Promote the outcomes of its analysis of the workshops held in 06 on IT tools to relieve the Administrative Burden on academics via training, and documentation. Target date: 07; Complete. Tools to relieve the admin burden handouts are publicised on the LTG site and available through WebLearn. Range of “WebTricks” courses run termly from MT06 onwards.
Launch the Tutorial Reporting System (OxCort) as a pilot service, and then as a full service. Target date: TT 07, MT 07 (full service). Cost: purchased by colleges and E-learning Innovation fund. Development costs partly met by ACDT, but annual maintenance cost thereafter £10-15k Completed MT07. Now handed over to BSP.
Develop and promote the use of the VLE WebLearn (see section 11 below); Ongoing Usage has risen. ITLP have revised the Fundamentals course. Development of courses through OLI is ongoing. LTG email newsletter promotes functionality.
Research and implement technology that provides teachers and learners with assessment technologies that increase the quality and ease by which questions can be authored and subsequent marking performed (IIb); Ongoing Inputting desired criteria to Sakai development (WebLearn 2.0), but currently no useable system.
Promote the effective use of ICT facilities in the classroom by exemplar teaching rooms at OUCS (e.g. the ISIS lecture room) Ongoing Facilities are promoted through ongoing courses, and 1to1 visits. Smartboard course developed and run onsite for some departments.
Research and implement technology that allows learners to share and express their understanding. Specifically this could be through the use of blogs and wikis or through more advanced shared graphical simulation technologies (IIc); Ongoing
Fund the development of new teaching rooms in OUCS. Target dates: 07-09. Estimated cost: £600k Partially completed. Identified as part of a major capital bid. Further teaching room has been identified. Windrush has been upgraded.
Continue to run a shared information environment for use of IT Support Staff (the ITSS wiki), as well as developing secure delegated services aiming to enhance the facilities available to IT support staff across the collegiate University. Target date: Ongoing. Ongoing
Explain, promote, and support good practice in web site management for the University. Target date: Ongoing Ongoing Web Design Consultancy service launched in MT07.
Promote TEI XML markup as a preferred archival format for digital texts in the University, by providing support, training and tools. Target date: Ongoing Ongoing
Test the use of the Ubuntu desktop system, using a prototype LINUX system. Help Centre provision is being evaluated against this in the wider context of the ECE. Target date: June 07. Achieved.
Introduce web-based CMS for OUCS intranet. Target date: September 2007. Ongoing
Investigate and, if appropriate, implement a further integration of OUCS’s front of house services. Target date: April 07 Achieved, TT07.
Upgrade the University’s backbone network. Target date: 08-09. Estimated cost: £1m. Identified as part of an ICT Capital bid. The current network meets the expected requirements and does not need upgrading on this timescale. We should therefore wait for the next generation of higher-speed technology to be readily available before progressing (at least 2009-2010) The cost is likely to exceed the £1M mark
Continue the roll-out of the FroDo project, and promote guidelines for the Oxford Wireless service (OWL). Target: January 2008. The FroDo roll-out is almost complete (Jan 2008)OWL guidelines are readily available (and have been well promoted)
Seek University funding to promote the use of mobile access, via handheld devices and wireless technology. Target dates: 07-10. Estimated cost: £1.5m set-up; £150k recurrent cost Identified as part of an ICT capital bid. Funding for OWL Phase 2 is being actively progressed with a view to providing wireless access in the public areas of some 60 buildings. Costs reduced to £360K plus £70 recurrent.
Investigate and support the introduction of Internet Protocol Version 6. Target date: Ongoing Ongoing
Begin to eliminate the use of clear-text passwords, and migrate users to more secure systems. Target date: 08. Ongoing This was successfully implemented for email clients. In 07/08 planning to address FTP access to oucsweb.
Plan and migrate University telecom systems to Voice over IP (VoIP). Target date: 09. Estimated cost: £3m. Ongoing A pilot project has been undertaken and plans are being made for a 'service' VOIP facility. It is hoped to introduce this shortly (2008) but the complete migration of the University phone provision is a long term project (over many years). Telecoms reserves are being used to fund the initial service and it is hoped that future developments will be self-funding through cost recovery charging.
Increase phase 2 of the storage and backup for the Herald mail facilities. Target date: 07. Estimated cost: £400k (money already received due to in-year PRAC grant) Oct 2007; Aug 2008 The herald service was successfully upgraded in 07/08 to enable all users to have 1 Gb mail quota. The upgrade included a complete replacement of the server and filestore hardware, and a migration to new IMAP server software. The final phase of the project, in 07/08, will provide extra resilience with a more effective backup policy, including offsite disk backup.
Continue to develop and roll-out facilities authentication and authorisation services. Particular emphasis here is on the promotion of the Single Sign-on system, and development of registry services in collaboration with BSP. Ongoing OUCS is participating in the Core User Directory Project, in collaboration with BSP, OULS and others.. Discussions with BSP in respect of Single Sign-on are ongoing. For 07/08 OUCS has initiated a project to provide an authorisation server, based on ldap, for the single sign-on authentication server (webauth/kerberos). This project is the first phase towards providing a groups management service on which, for example, the migration of Bodington to Sakai and the groupware deployment, depends.
Run and enhance HFS backup services by:
- Upgrading drives.
- Add SAN storage capacity.
- Replace p650 servers.
2007/08 Funding approved for the deployment of further SAN capacity, together with the redeployment of the SAN which previously supported the Herald email service. Remainder of objective consolidated into an overall HFS objective.
Ensure resilience and security of the data on the HFS by acquiring a second tape library (with drives) in a separate location. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. Dependent on provision of alternative computer room facilities.
Replace the automated tape library, now ten years old. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. Indicative budget submitted to ICT Capital Plan. This objective consolidated into an overall HFS objective.
Departmental backup servers might need to be unified. Target dates: 07-10. Estimated costs: £1.8m Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. Indicative budget submitted to ICT Capital Plan.
Invest in a University filestore and repository system. Target dates: 07-10. Estimated costs: £2.7m. Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund. Indicative budget submitted to ICT Capital Plan. considered low priority. However, groupware project may result in a shared document repository.
Continue investigation into a Groupware solution. Finish analysis in 2007, with an aim to procurement/development of service in 2008. Ongoing Identified as one of the four highest priority capital ICT projects. OUCS contributing to Groupware requirements Panel in 07/08 and is expected to have responsibility for the deployment of a groupware solution (initially by Oct 2008).
Alongside the research projects into Shibboleth (noted in section 6), investigate, with the key personal data providers of the University, the development of a coherent, accurate, and timely Identity Management Service that will permit the provision of an effective AccessManagement service. Target dates: 07-08. Estimated cost: £220k Ongoing OUCS contributing to the Core User Directory project, the first step in a broader programme of Identity Management projects.
Via our NSMS team, we will continue to provide IT Consultancy and Managed Services on a chargeable basis covering the following support areas:- Auditing of IT facilities and requirements- Consultancy on IT services and support- Windows, Linux, Apple and NetWare server management services- Firewall management services- Webserver management services- Research project support service- Windows and Macintosh workstation support - IT staff holiday cover- Emergency cover support- Exchange calendaring service Ongoing Virtualisation services have now been developed and added to the list of NSMS services.
Continue the development of the VLE system, bringing in new tools on a modular basis, linking up especially with such international projects as SAKAI. Target date: Ongoing. Ongoing. See elsewhere, plan to complete by 2010.
Link the VLE to institutional-wide services wherever possible, such as ISIDORE Ongoing.
Develop a Training Needs Analysis tool to point people at appropriate courses. Target date: 07. Ongoing but completed for graduates via ASPIRE project.
Assist in the development of the Enhanced Computing Environment by offering appropriate support to the new ICT Team and interface their activities with those in OUCS. Target date: Ongoing. Ongoing.
Assist in the implementation of the University’s ICT Strategic Plan (if ratified). Target date: Ongoing Aug 2007
Identify new opportunities to solve the accommodation problem and relieve pressure on the machine room. Ongoing OUCS contributing to the feasibility study for a new University Computer Room and investigating the possibility of refurbishing existing facilities. OUCS Computer Room Interest group has been formed and the Department has a better idea about potential capacity in other computer rooms around the University.
Depending upon the results of the review of OUCS’s Front of House services, fund the development of the central user area to accommodate extra requirements. Target date: 07. Estimated cost: £100k Aug 2007
Fund the development of the OUCS basements. Target date: 08. Estimated cost: £425k Part of a major bid to the ICT Capital fund.
Liaise with the SFWG to review the funding of OUCS, and future developments. Target date: 07. Completed.
Align its spending plans and cycles with the recommendations to emerge from the ICT Strategy which are focusing on large-scale IT investments, timescales, and costs ( and Completed.
Investigate which premium services should be costed into research grants as 'directly incurred'. Ongoing The HFS archive policy is under review and a formula devised to help ensure an element of cost-recovery from research grants for the long-term storage of research project data.
Provide advice, via our RTS section, for researchers writing funding proposals for projects with a significant IT element, and promote the opportunities offered by our NSMS unit to purchase IT support and development. Target date: Ongoing Ongoing. As noted elsewhere we are looking at getting key services of NSMS and the HFS listed as small research facilities. Also this will be assisted by appointment of Research facilitator post.
Monitor the recommendations to emerge from the ICT Strategic Plan which focus on the ICT environment and governance ( Ongoing. Many recommendations have been enacted so far (e.g. governance, capital funding, etc).
Respond accordingly to any changes in ICT Governance across the University as a result of the ICT Strategic Plan. Ongoing. OUCS Management sub-committee to be set up.