Welcome to the annual report of Oxford University Computing Services for 2008-2009. 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 view 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.
The mainstay of this publication is a set of performance reports that yet again demonstrate the increasing levels of demand for OUCS’s services. Looking back over previous years, we can see an annual growth in most areas, illustrating the core nature of IT to the University. 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. We also include a series of reports from the various 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, both financially and strategically. We bring in about £1m per annum from external funding agencies, which in 2008-2009 contributed nearly £400k in FEC. These projects, and this funding, allow us to take forward development work of strategic importance to the University (e.g. the Low Carbon initiative).
A major undertaking this year has been the development of the Groupware service – now called Nexus. Once the product decision had been made by the University (i.e. the selection of Microsoft’s Exchange and Sharepoint platforms) OUCS was set the task of building the service – which included procuring the hardware, negotiating and agreeing licences, and most importantly preparing for the migration of the 40,000 Herald users. On top of this we were also asked to facilitate the development of a Sharepoint service. The latter, in particular, is a new venture in UK Higher Education as Oxford is perhaps the first University to attempt a controlled, targeted, roll-out. It should be noted that this is all against the backdrop of the devolved nature of IT in the University, which adds an added level of complexity. However, throughout 2008-2009 OUCS staff have met the extremely tight deadlines set by the project, kept to within budget, so that as we moved into 2009-2010 the migrations took place with minimum disruption. This year also saw the long-awaited launch of the new WebLearn service. This has involved a lot of work by the WebLearn development team and the new system provides a much better interface and a range of state-of-the-art tools to support learning and teaching at Oxford.
Over the year we have sought, and received, guidance from the OUCS Management Sub-Committee (chaired by Professor William James) on how we should be developing our service, and we continue to carry through the recommendations of the Services Funding Working Group. We are constantly attempting to address the need for the long-term planning and funding of key services, and the planned resourcing of future developments.
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, OUCS