5. Strategic Issues and Development

A Central Machine Room being constructed in the basement of the new Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute. It will be in operation from early 2011 and will complement the existing Machine Room at OUCS. The facility will ensure capacity, resilience and energy efficiency for business-critical ICT services; it will also provide a shared service for divisions, departments and colleges that require server provision and hosting
2008-2009 has witnessed some major strategic projects undertaken by OUCS that will continue into the next year and beyond. These include:
  • development and roll-out of the Nexus service and the migration of users from Herald;
  • planning for the new Central Machine Room and the refurbishment of OUCS’s existing data centre to provide dual-site resilience for all our service;
  • concerted efforts to put in place proper business continuity plans and disaster recovery processes for all our services, and communication plans in the event of such emergencies;
  • deployment of wireless access points across campus and increased security and resilience for the network;
  • research into information security best practice and encryption methodologies;
  • a focus on Green computing and energy efficiency measures.

There has also been a greater recognition of the key role IT and the services offered by OUCS play in the University achieving its aims and objectives in terms of learning, teaching, research, administration, and other activities (e.g. outreach and widening participation).

We are witnessing a growing awareness across all sectors of the interdependency of IT services offered by central and local units, and the need to take a strategic and holistic approach to the underlying architecture. This is highlighted by the gradual adoption across the University of the Single Sign-On system (SSO), as seen in projects such as the integration of SSO with student systems. Access and Identity Management is now a major area of investigation and development and notable advances have been made with the Core User Director (on which many services will depend). For all of this to succeed, however, the University, in line with international thinking, must recognize the need for the adoption of open-standards and for systems to be flexible enough to be adapted to the specific needs of the academic users at Oxford.

Yet everything comes at a price, and whilst we note throughout this report the increased demand for, and use of existing services offered by OUCS (e.g. advisory services, HFS, the backbone) and for new services (e.g. Nexus, podcasting), such requests cannot be met unless they are matched with sufficient resources.

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