4. Central Services

4.1. Central Unix Service

The older of the two central Unix servers, Sable, was taken out of service at the end of July 2001. This was the end of a long exercise to help users transfer to other services. In general, those only requiring email were moved to Herald, while the few needing a Unix shell service were moved to Ermine. Ermine is now run only on a care and maintenance basis, and its phasing-out will commence during the next year.

4.2. Special Printing Services

OUCS operates a number of `special' printing devices, ie high-quality output devices which generally are too expensive or too specialist to be found in any one department or unit. These are currently:
  • a high-quality colour print and copy unit;
  • a typesetter producing camera-ready copy (Monotype Panther Pro);
  • a high-performance A0 colour Postscript Printer/Plotter

The last is used to produce A0 (poster size) output on photo-quality paper, and is especially popular for producing poster displays for conferences, exhibitions, etc.

This is an area where technology changes rapidly (and the cost of high-quality devices is falling). Each of these special printing services will be kept under review, and as each device reaches the end of its useful life, careful consideration will be made to determine whether continuation is justified as a central service.

4.3. Computer Room Operations

The computer room operations staff are responsible for all operational duties associated with the large number of computing and network equipment housed there, especially the Hierarchical File Server and its robot tape library. In addition, OUCS houses various major computers belonging to other University departments, including the main OLIS library server and Silicon Graphics Cray Origin2000 parallel computer run by the Oxford Supercomputing Centre. The computer room equipment is protected by a large Uninterruptible Power Supply, and multiple air-conditioning systems.

In the evenings, operations staff provide a source of assistance for users in the User Area and LaRC.

A survey of use of these areas showed that a slight cost saving could be made by bringing forward the closing time of the building to 20:30, and this was implemented soon after the end of this period. The externally accessible `Data Centre' continues to provide 24-hour availability to a range of computers and the internet as well as a printing service.

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