1. Introduction

Dear Colleague,

Welcome to the annual report of Oxford University Computing Services for 2007-2008. In keeping with previous formats we have attempted to write a report that is informative and approachable to allow our users to get a comprehensive glimpse of OUCS’s performance over the last year. This is our way of reporting on our services, and how we have attempted to meet the demands of the collegiate University.

We have divided the report into three main sections. First, we have produced a set of short essays on current ‘perspectives’; namely topics that have come to the fore over the last year and merit special mention. Included in this we have a short piece by Pete Biggs, the first chair of the ICT Forum, presenting a retrospective look at how IT support has changed over the years.

We then present a set of service reports that show the increasing levels of demand on OUCS. Wherever possible we have also shown the level of use of OUCS’s services broken down under the Academic Divisions, OUDCE, College-only users, and other central units. Finally, we include a series of reports from the Research Projects OUCS has led or been part of over the year. This aspect of OUCS is fundamental to our taking services forward for the University, and we attract over £1m per annum from external funding agencies. This brings in valuable extra revenue via FEC which goes towards the supporting infrastructure within the department.

A major undertaking this year has been the lead-up to and launch of the Groupware project. OUCS provided considerable expertise and support to the University panel that selected the new Groupware solution (based on Microsoft Exchange and Sharepoint) and will be working on implementing this over the next year. In addition to this, we have also been heavily involved in working through the new Governance structures, in particular the formation of the OUCS Management Sub-Committee (chaired by Professor William James) that reports directly to the PRAC ICTC Sub-Committee, and to continue to carry through the recommendations of the Services Funding Working Group. We are continuing to address the need for the long-term planning and funding of key services, and properly resourcing future developments. This also involved a series of lengthy meetings in which every service run by OUCS was analysed by a series of divisional meetings in terms of their Service Level Descriptions (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/internal/sld/) and costs and recommendations made. It was as a result of this that it was agreed that due to changes in user demands and available applications, the Academic Computing Development Team should be phased out, though its contribution to the development of IT across the University for teaching and research over the past ten years was widely recognised. This, we believe, is but one example of how OUCS is responding to the changes in user demands, and a manifestation of the new Governance structure in action.

Finally, it should be noted that this Annual Report forms only part of the information OUCS provides. Here we attempt to indicate how we have performed over the year; but we also produce a five-year strategy looking forward (revised each January).

I hope you enjoy reading this report and find it informative,

Dr Stuart D Lee,
Director, Computing Systems and Services,

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