1. A letter from the Director of IT

Professor Paul Jeffreys
Figure 1. Professor Paul Jeffreys

The Oxford University Computing Services department has striven to facilitate world-class research, teaching and learning, and administration, through the delivery of production quality, innovative and reliable services for its users. This final OUCS annual report, covering the period 2011-2012, summarises and celebrates OUCS’s staff activities to support the evolving Information Technology needs of the collegiate University, to adjust to new and increasing demands, and to deliver effective and efficient services. In fulfilling these objectives OUCS is grateful for the productive partnership it has enjoyed 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 external income, and, the consolidation of OUCS with two other central IT departments: Business Services and Projects and the ICT Support Team. From 1 August 2012, OUCS will form part of a new consolidated IT Services department.

The University Shared Data Centre (USDC), constructed within the new Oxford Molecular Pathology Institute, opened for business on 1 August 2011with 24 racks of space available for use by the collegiate University. The initiative was in direct response to a recommendation from the Internal Auditors to offer greater resilience for enterprise-wide services and to address 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. Over its first year of operation just under 50% of available space has been allocated. In addition, a Private Cloud service was launched that provides a self-service environment for the provision of virtual machines on which services can be run.

Demands on OUCS’s services have continued to increase. The Nexus SharePoint service has grown rapidly since its launch in April; the Nexus email service has also continued to increase - there are now 37,000 active users of with over 49,000 mailboxes. The new OxFile service, launched in May, attracted over 500 users in its first week of operation and has had 47,000 users since the start (including recipients). The IT Learning Programme offered 562 open sessions courses - covering 199 topics, and 55 closed sessions - covering 52 topics; these have been attended by 4,200 people with 1343 attending three or more courses. The demand for chargeable services has increased and the NSMS team has expanded, with an annual turnover of £850k. More than 140 services use the OUCS access management stack, the Core User Directory became a production service in June and is providing data to 185 units, and there are 41,000 users of the Shibboleth access management service. Backbone traffic increased by 52% and the volume of data backed up increased by 27% compared to the previous year. Since October 2008, when the podcasting service was launched, there have been 18 million downloads from iTunesU, 4,200 podcast items processed and 3,480 academic speakers and contributors. An Information Security team has been created and a new University Information Security policy was endorsed by Council in July.

In this final annual report, I would like to take the opportunity to thank OUCS staff for bringing their dedication and experience to bear on the services we have provided; they have served with initiative, enthusiasm and professionalism, and in the last year have made essential contributions towards the consolidation of the three departments into IT Services. The next twelve months will bring fresh challenges as the new IT Services department beds in; I am confident that our staff will contribute vital expertise, skills and knowledge, and will continue to play their part in delivering excellent services and developing new facilities for the benefit of the collegiate University.

Professor Paul W. Jeffreys
Director of IT
Head of Department

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