1. Vision, and summary of the department’s main objectives:
This report sets OUCS’s objectives for 2011-2015. We begin with a short review of our last five-year plan, and then proceed to discussing the key challenges and issues facing the department, especially arising from the increasing financial pressure.
Considering the future some key objectives do stand out. Many of these depend on funding proposals under the ICT Capital envelope or elsewhere, and will always require the support of the Divisions. The following objectives should also be read alongside the Five-Year Strategic Plan for the Office for the Director of IT (ODIT).
The next few years will be spent increasing the resilience and reliability of our core services (I), meeting the changing demands of technology (II), but at the same time taking forward services in the light of new opportunities afforded to us and the demands of the users (III). It is OUCS’s responsibility to also plan for the development of the capacity and growth of existing services to meet future predicted demands, but at the same time constantly investigate more cost effective provision (internal or external, open or closed source - IV). We are also a centre of excellence for IT in the University, and see our role very much as working collaboratively with IT providers across the collegiate University (V). At the same time we have to constantly keep an eye on several important factors:
- meeting our agreed performance levels set out in our Service Level Descriptions with the Divisions ();
- maximising efficiency at a time of financial constraint, including our energy efficiency and assisting the rest of the University in achieving similar goals;
- keeping abreast of the changes in the overall IT sector with respect to increased internal interdependencies, and external shared services, outsourcing, etc.
- Meeting the demand for resilient services, and minimising disruption to University business, by setting up the new Shared Data Centre (SDC), and launching a major replacement of the network backbone.
- Keeping up with changes demanded of us by new directions in underlying and emerging technologies, e.g. move to IPv6, developing mobile provision, exploiting podcasting via iTunes U.
- Taking forward our services and grasping the opportunities presented to us by
these changes in technology. For example:
- developing the HFS to safeguard the University’s digital assets through a series of phased projects on managing and developing our archiving and backup facilities;
- rolling out hybrid cloud services in the new SDC with a private cloud that also can utilise outsourced cloud services;
- offering departments a resilient and cost effective alternative to server (co)location through the SDC and the Virtual Infrastructure services we will be developing;
- developing our suite of collaborative tools into a seamless experience for staff and students, interoperable with other key services (Nexus SharePoint/Exchange, WebLearn, Identity and Access Management, Student Systems, etc);
- continuing the development towards ubiquitous networking through the roll-out of the Wireless service; and exploiting the opportunities offered by Voice over IP (VOIP), and the merging network services and telecoms;
- creating a single trusted source of core information about all the users in Oxford and their groupings via the Core User Directory (CUD) and Groupstore projects;
- further developing and promoting services and policies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions across the University in conjunction with the Environmental Sustainability Unit (e.g. a revised WOL service made available through the NSMS FiDo Linux appliance, Video conferencing).
- Future proofing the sustainability of services by planning in advance for major upgrades (e.g. the backbone) or expansion in capacity (e.g. HFS, Nexus, etc).
- Pooling knowledge and expertise with other IT providers and support staff to offer academics and students a more seamless experience.
OUCS will endeavour to produce briefing documents for senior officers in the University keeping them in touch with our achievements over the next year. In addition we also intend to put together an annual trends analysis of the changing landscape of IT. This five year plan already points to several areas:
- The increasing demand for shared infrastructure and services (see the discussions on the Shared Data Centre throughout). In particular there is an increased demand for central facilities offering virtualised servers (as provided by NSMS’s VM4Rent), and we expect to see this replicated in desktop virtualisation demand (where personalised desktops are stored centrally);
- integration of University-run IT services with those offered by third parties (e.g. the alumni email service using live@edu);
- the rising importance of openness – open standards, open data, open linking, open educational resources, and open source software (it should be noted in this context that OUCS-led projects have established Oxford as a centre of expertise in all of these areas);
- the ubiquitous nature of computing now in terms of the demands for widespread wireless and the increased saturation of mobile devices;
- greater integration of services and dependencies. In particular between systems within central admin, OUCS services, and local services. This increasing integration has accelerated the push for an understood and accepted set of interoperability standards and a service oriented architecture (SOA) approach to be used in procurement exercises. OUCS will take an active lead in service consolidation and integration.
- the ever-increasing threat to cybersecurity (see OUCS-led project on Information Security Best Practice).