4. Strategic Issues and Development

OUCS is responsible for delivering reliable, resilient and efficient core IT services for the collegiate University, in alignment with the institution’s wider strategic goals. This includes:

  • planning the capacity and growth of existing services to meet predicted changes in demand;
  • ensuring the cost-effectiveness of current provision, including considering and managing out-sourcing where appropriate;
  • enabling the collegiate University to benefit from new opportunities arising from developments in technology;
  • responding to user requirements for new services or improvements to the existing portfolio.

In order to fulfil these responsibilities we must:

  • meet agreed performance levels as set out in our Service Level Descriptions with the Divisions;
  • maximise efficiency at a time of financial constraint, including improving our energy efficiency, and assisting the rest of the University in achieving similar goals;
  • keep abreast of the changes in the wider IT sector with respect to increased internal interdependencies, and external shared services, outsourcing, etc.

Additionally, as a centre of excellence for IT in the University, we work in partnership with colleagues in the academic departments and faculties, administrative units, other central IT departments, and the colleges on both day-to-day and more strategic aspects of IT provision.

In 2010-2011, OUCS undertook a number of key projects and activities. Highlights include:

  • delivering the University Shared Data Centre for use by the collegiate University to offer resilient, reliable, high quality and cost-effective co-location and virtual infrastructure services. These complement services delivered from Data Centre based in OUCS to provide additional resilience, in line with current best practice;
  • planning the replacement of the backbone network as the technology and equipment currently in use approaches end of life;
  • planning and executing extensive work on the University backup and archive service to safeguard the University’s digital assets through a series of phased projects;
  • developing a private cloud using external funding from the University Modernisation Fund, which provides a managed gateway to the public cloud for users across the collegiate University;
  • developing our suite of collaborative tools into a seamless experience for staff and students, interoperable with other key services (Nexus SharePoint/Exchange, WebLearn2, Identity and Access Management, Student Systems, etc);
  • developing a single trusted source of core information about all the users in Oxford and their groupings via the Core User Directory and Groupstore projects, and coordinating access management for services delivered through UAS;
  • continuing development towards ubiquitous networking through the roll-out of the Wireless service; and exploiting the opportunities offered by Voice over IP (VOIP), and through a new project to merge network services and telecoms;
  • monitoring new directions in underlying and emerging technologies, e.g. starting work on the move to IPv6, developing mobile provision, and exploiting podcasting via iTunes U;
  • further developing and promoting services and policies to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions across the University in conjunction with the Environmental Sustainability Unit (e.g. a revised Wake-On-Lan service);
  • pooling knowledge and expertise, and working in partnership, with other IT providers and support staff to offer academics and students a seamless experience.

Finally, OUCS made a significant contribution to the ICT Central Coordinating Programme to consolidate activities across the three central IT units into a single department.

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