1. A letter from the Director of IT

Professor Paul Jeffreys

The Oxford University Computing Services department embodies the themes of production quality delivery, innovation and cost-effectiveness. This annual report for 2010-2011 summarises and celebrates the continuing efforts by OUCS staff to deliver effective and efficient services, to support the evolving Information Technology needs of the collegiate University, and to innovate and to adjust to new and increasing demands. In fulfilling these objectives OUCS is grateful for the productive partnership it has with local IT staff across the collegiate University.

The year in review saw new IT services commissioned, new facilities built, year-on-year growth in demand, increased income from external funding agencies, and the start of a process to consolidate OUCS with two other central IT departments: Business Services and Projects and the ICT Support Team. From 1 January 2011 OUCS became part of University Administration and Services (UAS).

The University Shared Data Centre (USDC), constructed within the new Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute, opened for business on the 1 August 2011. The initiative is in direct response to a recommendation from the Internal Auditors to offer greater resilience for enterprise-wide services and to a requirement specified in the University’s ICT Strategic Plan. The USDC is a state-of-the-art facility with a focus on energy efficiency to reduce power usage and minimise greenhouse gas emissions. It ensures capacity, resilience and energy efficiency for business-critical ICT services. As its name suggests, it provides a shared service for divisions, departments and colleges which require server or application hosting facilities.

An allocation of £1.2M to from the University Modernisation Fund, through the VIDaaS project, has contributed to our development of a private cloud. This heralds an exciting new way of sharing services within the collegiate University. Infrastructure is shared on the private cloud, whilst units retain their autonomy by being able to manage their services. This new form of shared delivery brings benefits of economy, reliability and resilience provided through common infrastructure – whilst enabling local control to be retained. In addition, it offers a managed gateway to the public cloud.

Demands on OUCS’s services have continued to increase. There are now 36,000 active users of the Nexus email service with 47,000 mailboxes, and the Nexus SharePoint service has rapidly grown since its launch in April; the new OxFile service attracted over 500 users in its first week of operation; the ILTG offered 509 open sessions courses which were attended by 2,272 distinct individuals; the demand for chargeable services has increased and the NSMS team has expanded; more than 140 services use the OUCS access management stack; the volume of data backed up has doubled compared to the previous year; and the 12 millionth download from iTunesU was made.

Further information about all our activities is available in our Five-year Strategic Plan which lists OUCS’s priorities for coming years. I would be very pleased to receive comments on this Annual Report and the Five-year Strategic Plan, and hope that you will find both documents stimulating and informative.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank OUCS staff who have brought their dedication and experience to bear on the services we provide; they continue to respond with initiative, enthusiasm and professionalism. The next twelve months will bring new challenges, in particular as the three central IT units are brought together, but I am confident that our staff have the expertise, skills and knowledge to continue to deliver excellent services and develop new facilities for the benefit of the collegiate University.

Professor Paul W. Jeffreys
OUCS Department Head
Director of IT

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