3. Review 2011-12

This section of the report details our services and the impact they have been making on the University and its IT needs. Wherever possible we have tried to break down usage according to the academic divisions and other units within the University, in line with the implementation of the Type 123 funding model.

3.1. University Network

3.1.1. Backbone

Table 1. Average traffic carried across the Backbone in TB/day
2000–01 0.57
2001–02 1.05
2002–03 1.46
2003–04 1.78
2004–05 1.98
2005–06 3.17
2006–07 8.09
2007–08 14.17
2008-09 21.81
2009-10 28.82
2010-11 36.56
2011-12 52.78
2012-13 55.57
Shows year on year rise in backbone traffic
Figure 2. Rise in traffic volumes across the University backbone

Note on graph :
The red trend line shows an exponential growth rate.
The green trend line shows a linear growth rate.
The actual growth rate is somewhere in-between.

The backbone continues to operate reliably with traffic levels still rising and only the rate of growth slowing slightly, from around 156% per annum to 152% pa.

3.1.2. University Backbone Chassis Maintenance Project

Support for the chassis of our backbone routers, which had recently celebrated their 10th birthday, was due to be withdrawn by Cisco after 30th November 2012. As these are a key part of the University network, we had to get these replaced before their "End of Support" date. This was an enormous challenge to replace all 13 chassis over the summer while keeping the downtime to an absolute minimum. It was rather analogous to the F1 racing car pits stops. Indeed the team got their times down to levels that even McLaren or Ferrari would be proud of! The work is now complete.

3.1.3. External Access

Our now resilient JANET connection of 10 Gbps can cope with the increased traffic levels at the current rate of growth for a number of years yet, barring something new and unexpected.

Table 2. Average JANET traffic in GB/day
Period Total In Out
2006–07 3,486 2,132 1,354
2007–08 6,082 3,799 2,283
2008-09 8,578 5,505 3,073
2009-10 11,360 7,737 3,623
2010-11 16,010 10,509 5,501
2011-12 22,460 14,992 7,468
Projected 2012-13 32,754 22,468 10,697 VPN Service
VPN service now at 60000 plus connections
Figure 3. Growth of VPN service since 2002

The sudden jump in numbers shown in the graph above, is partly attributable to the increase in the number of devices that individuals have and partly an artefact as mobile devices repeatedly connecting/disconnecting to the system as users move around. Internet Access Resilience

The initial work to improve the resilience of our Internet connection has now finished with complete duplication of cables and routers. We are now considering how to balance the traffic across the two separate connections.

3.1.4. Wireless Networking

This year we continued to grow the wireless service adding 30% more access points, taking our total from 670 wireless access points (WAP’s) to 874. In addition many colleges and divisions have their own provision.

The OWL, eduroam, and OWL Visitor Network services continue to be well used. Increasingly, wireless is the a primary means of network access. The total number of clients (per month) shown in the graph below clearly demonstrates this point, as well as showing the termly variation.

Show steady increase in wireless connections from 2005 to
Figure 4. Wireless authenticated client numbers from 2005 to 2012

Note: This is NOT ‘unique’ clients. It is the total number of connections per month.

3.1.5. Email Relay


Operation of the email relay systems continues to be business-as-usual this year with no significant changes to the service.

Table 3. Growth of email relay during the period 2006-2012
YearDaily MessagesData Volume (GB)
2006-07 470,820 22.7
2007-08 534,883 29.5
2008-09 562,287 38.5
2009-10 596,066 45.5
2010-11 516,192 45.6
2011-12 630,626 62.7

Note: These are averaged, smoothed numbers.

3.2. Systems Development

3.2.1. Mirror Service

Our mirror service (http://mirror.ox.ac.uk/) provides up-to-date local copies of a number of internet sites holding primarily technical resources. The portfolio of mirrored sites include several Linux distributions and other open source projects such as CPAN and CTAN. It ensures that Oxford ITSS and other users have high-speed access to these resources whilst also reducing bandwidth utilisation on our JANET connection. Each mirror is accessible by HTTP, FTP, within the Oxford AFS cell, and by rsync from Oxford networks (access via AFS or rsync is not considered in the figures below).

N.B: the 2010/2011 report contained an inaccurate figure for estimated volume served which has been removed from the table below.

Table 4. Use of the mirror service
Year Mirrored sites Volume of mirrored data Estimated volume served
2006 12 n/a n/a
2007 16 n/a n/a
2008 21 n/a n/a
2009 24 n/a n/a
2010 27 3.8TB n/a
2011 26 4.1TB n/a
2012 24 4.6TB 998TB

Mirror sites occasionally become obsolete or deprecated, at which point they may be removed from the mirror service, as happened this year. Below is a list of the top-level mirrored sites (some sites are sourced from multiple sub-sites and due to this fewer than the 24 mentioned above are listed below).

Table 5. List of the top-level mirrored sites
Top level mirrored site
archive.ubuntu.com releases.ubuntu.com
backports.debian.org rsync.apache.org
ctan.org rsync.gentoo.org
download.fedora.redhat.com ftp.isi.edu
www.apache-ssl.org www.chiark.greenend.org.uk
ftp.mcs.anl.gov www.cpan.org
ftp.openbsd.org www.debian.org
ftp.openssl.org ftp.opensuse.org
www.tldp.org ftp.porcupine.org
xbmc.org mirror.centos.org

The following mirrors were added or removed:

Table 6. Old and new mirrored sites
www.dovecot.org removed
volatile.debian.org removed
archive.raspbian.org added

3.2.2. GNU/Linux Shell Server

OUCS provides a general-purpose GNU/Linux computing environment for use by University members. A large selection of software is available for use, including several packages designed for specific academic purposes and some Oxford-specific features. A full GUI desktop is available in addition to command-line shells, with access to personal filestore and network printing from both.

The service also provides access to a users web filestore which can be published as a web site under http://users.ox.ac.uk/.

Usage data has been collected since 2011, however the service has been operating in its current form since 2002.

Table 7. Users of the GNU/Linux service
Year Registered users at
end of reporting period
2011 2478
2012 2582

Collected accounting data suggests that the service is constantly in use, and in some cases with multiple concurrent sessions per user (leading to cases where a user appears to be logged in for more than 31 days per month).

Table 8. Use of GNU/Linux service
Year User time connected (Hours per month)
Total Average (per user) Maximum
2011 (July) 13441.37 54.64 1050.25
2012 (September) 13633.96 40.38 816.62

Some preparation for an upgrade of the underlying infrastructure began in June (editor’s note: this work was completed in early October).

3.2.3. Web Publishing

OUCS provides a range of Web services from simple personal and society web pages to comprehensive Web hosting offering advanced features, providing all registered users with an allocation of space which can be used to house a personal web site. Any type of file can be published, including HTML, stylesheets, Javascript, PDF, audio, and video, subject only to quota (size) limits and the University’s Acceptable Use Policy.

Table 9. Use of the web publishing service
Year Registered Users Vhosts
2011 4335 91
2012 4317 89

Usage data has been collected since 2011, however the service has been operating since 1996.

A substantial overhaul of OUCS’ web hosting services is planned for 2013. In 2011 we conducted a survey to assess demand for central web hosting, and to identify the key characteristics of such a service. This has confirmed that significant demand exists, but that meeting these requires a complete replacement of the current infrastructure and a radical change in the range of features available to web site managers.

The result of this work is expected to be a range of service offerings, designed to meet the needs of colleges and departments, research and project groups, clubs and societies, and individuals wishing to establish a personal online presence. Each of these will offer modern web publishing capabilities, whilst retaining key aspects of the current service (such as an .ox.ac.uk domain name and support from the OUCS Help Desk).

3.2.4. Network News

The network news service provides reliable, high-speed access to a wide range of Usenet newsgroups, including a number of Oxford-specific groups that are only available through this service. Further Oxford-specific groups can be created on request.

Table 10. Newsgroups available and their use by Oxford
Year Newsgroups available Oxford Specific
2011 6873 155
2012 6848 154

The service is accessible by any computer connected to the University network (including through the VPN) using the NNTP protocol which is supported by several standard email clients (e.g. Thunderbird). Suitable clients are also available on linux.ox (the GNU/Linux service mentioned above), e.g. trn or slrn.

As a non-critical service, records needed to generate usage data beyond the previous month have not been routinely collected.

Table 11. Connections to the Newsgroup service
Year Connecting hosts
Internal clients External peers
2011 (July only) 162 25
2012 (September only) 110 17
Table 12. Number of posts by University users
Year Number of posts by University users
2011 (July only) 271
2012 (September only) 283

3.2.5. Energy Efficiency and Monitoring (EEM)

OUCS provides a service enabling manual, and scheduled, wake-on-lan for registered hosts. This enables IT Support Staff, end-users and the HFS Backup Service to switch computers on remotely. A web interface provides machine registration, wake-up, schedule configuration, and other options to end-users. In turn, this capability allows for savings in utility power usage due to the fact that computers can be powered down when not in use, such as outside normal working hours, but remotely powered back up on schedule and ready for use the next day.

Following the completion of the infrastructure upgrade project in early 2012, a subsequent project involving NSMS and Estates Services has enabled the roll-out of centrally funded gateway devices across University departments.

Coverage and take-up of the service has grown substantially with the new system in place, and is now more than double the peak deployment of its predecessor. The project aims are being met in that single gateways are serving multiple networks, VLANs, and IP subnets. Work on the EEM system - especially the web interface - is continuing as increased usage has surfaced requests for extended funtionality. The old (WoL) system components have now been decommissioned.

Table 13. EEM gateways and networks
Year EEM-enabled gateways EEM-enabled networks
2011 (WoL) 22 22
2012 46 53

The reduction in number of active client devices (device which received at least one wakeup) shown below is likely to be due to the fact that during part of this reporting period, both systems were running, but only data from EEM was collected.

Table 14. Use of EEM system
Year Registered Users Registered client devices Active client devices
2011 (WoL) 549 1303 948 (May-July)
2012 752 1979 741 (May-July)

3.2.6. OxFile

OxFile, which was launched in May 2011, is a web service that supports the exchange of large files with people inside and outside of Oxford University. It is simple and fast to use, and any member of the University can setup a file exchange for immediate use.

The key features of the service are that it can accept large files (up to 25GB) that are difficult to exchange, due to their size, by other means. It is easy to use, and self tidying as files are automatically removed after a user-selected period of up to 31 days. Additionally, notifications can be sent when files have been up/down loaded. The service also offers some assurance of security, in that file transfers can be encrypted, and users have a degree of access control over files they wish to share.

Table 15. Use of OxFile service
Year Total Users* External Users
2011 5543 1182
2012 46585 10717

* = including recipients

In last years report, the Total size of files uploaded was reported as an instantaneous snapshot of data stored on the server. This year the reported figure relates to the cumulative size of all files uploaded, which provides a more useful indicator of usage.

Table 16. Files uploaded to OxFile service
Year Folders Files Added Total size of files uploaded Average folder size
2011 1394 (May-July) 3458 (May-July) N/A 187 MB
2012 10004 35651 3.24 TB 550 MB

The following chart illustrates both the number of active uploading users per month, and unique users who have uploaded files since the service was launched.

Shows growth of service: 1800 total users 3-400 per
Figure 5. Growth of OxFile usage 2011 - 12

3.3. Identity and Access Management Services

IT Services provides a range of identity and access management (IAM) services to the University. WebAuth, Shibboleth, Kerberos, Oak LDAP, Core User Directory (CUD) and the registration database. These services are available for general use by ITSS who wish to implement access control for their own resources and services, as well as being used for centrally hosted facilities.

In addition to delivering the services described below, the IAM team have engaged in a variety of communication and development activities associated with our services. These have included CUD training sessions, presentations at ICTF and UAS Conferences and providing sessions about the user lifecycle, status and entitlements.

Development activities include a range of system and service upgrades, detailed under the relevant sections below.

3.3.1. Core User Directory (CUD)

CUD became a production service at the end of June 2012, receiving, matching and consolidating data from OSS, OpenDoor, Congregation, DARS, Card, Registration and Telecomms. CUD has proved an invaluable tool to assist with data migrations, data consolidation and data delivery and has been involved in the following projects and services: CUD OpenDoor/HRIS

This year, with the move from OpenDoor to HRIS, CUD has been used in data matching and cleaning of the OpenDoor records. Work is ongoing to ensure that the data held and presented to users is accurate, clean and presented in a timely manner. Registration Data Feeds

As many of you will know we have retired the text files previously provided to ITSS. Registration data feeds are now provided by CUD, using a number of different interfaces, mostly using the CUD client which uses kerberos to authenticate. Previously access control was restricted by individual IP Addresses, which was difficult to maintain and was only available to "public" addresses.

This change has revealed just how many processes were being run to generate cleaned reconciled data offered by registration. SITS:Vision

A provisioning interface is in production which creates records in SITS for all staff within the University. This interface comprises CUD pushing data into SITS through the StuTalk interface.

3.3.2. Upgrades in 2012 Kerberos KDC upgrades and Webauth upgrades

This year we have completed a platform upgrade of the underlying infrastructure supporting our Kerberos Key Distribution Centre (KDC) cluster. Work to perform a complete platform upgrade (operating system and application) of the underlying infrastructure supporting our Webauth cluster started earlier in the reporting year and is still ongoing. In addition, work is also underway to update and rebrand the Webauth website interface, which, in part, should prove more friendly to small and mobile devices. Shibboleth

As described in last year’s report, a major upgrade to the infrastructure offering this service was completed earlier in the year. This has provided a range of enhancements to Oxford’s Shibboleth service, including the ability to support SAML2 profiles, configure per-SP session lifetimes, and integrate multi-factor authentication.

However, we have not been able to fully implement SAML2 due to a small number of service providers not being fully compatible. We are seeking to address these issues as a matter of urgency as we wish to be able to use some of the additional features offered by SAML2.

3.3.3. Projects: UAS Access Management Project

This has been a very interesting project, originally set up to enable collaboration between OUCS and BSP staff to integrate a number of UAS applications with Oxford SSO. The applications integrated so far include SITS, x5 Agresso, Oracle UPK (finance training system), and Tableau. Also in scope for integration are HRIS, DARS NetCommunity and the replacements for ADSS and ADMIT for which a solution has been identified but is currently not operational.

To facilitate integration of these applications into the SSO stack, a modular, pilot test stack has been developed for the lifetime of the project.

As part of the UAS AM project, work is now underway to assess how the University might move forward with extending SSO to leavers and prospective staff and students. This is likely to include further discussion about how to better manage the user lifecycle and additional verification.

The outcome of this piece of work will be a document that makes the business case for extending SSO (if it exists) and, if appropriate, a project proposal to implement recommendations. The Groupstore Project

The Groupstore Project complements the CUD by providing a central repository for information about groups of identities. This can be used to share groups across multiple consumers. (e.g. a centrally defined group of users can be used to create a mailing list, control access to a Nexus SharePoint resource and appear in WebLearn), and will support groups whose membership is based on organisational structures / roles as well as ad hoc groups that can be controlled by individuals and applications.

The CUD project has demonstrated the need for a consistent well governed set of affiliation data. It is hoped that the Groupstore project will address this need. Addition Verification (project Janus)

Janus was a pilot project which looked at providing a means to submit exam papers via WebLearn. The additional verification method selected was SMS messages. The end of project reported a successful outcome. The Examinations School have made a recommendation that the pilot be extended and developed to provide the means for all papers to be submitted in this way. In addition a project proposal has been submitted to seek further funding to provide additional verification services for other use cases.

3.3.4. Service Reports WebAuth

WebAuth is a web single sign-on (Web SSO) system enabling authentication and identification of web visitors, who identify themselves using their Oxford SSO credentials. Subsequent visits to other (Oxford) WebAuth sites do not require further login. The Oxford WebAuth service is based on the Stanford WebAuth system, but includes additional facilities for account activation, and password change/reset.

WebAuth is used extensively within the University, and take up continues steadily with around 40 services adopting WebAuth each year. Additionally, analysis of authentication log data suggests that there is a "saved login" count of approximately 49%, releaving the user from needing to authenticate more than once while browsing websites and services that implement WebAuth. The following chart shows the increased take-up of the WebAuth service by the wider University community.

Table 17. Growth of non-OUCS WebAuth services
YearNon-OUCS Webauth Services
2004 0
2005 6
2006 26
2007 68
2008 97
2009 136
2010 174
2011 213
2012 257 Oak LDAP


Oak LDAP provides a convenient directory of person-based information that can be used as the basis for authorisation decisions, mapping between multiple identifiers for a person, and the retrieval of naming and contact data. In addition to underpinning several OUCS services (including WebLearn and Shibboleth), the service is used by departments and colleges throughout the Collegiate University, some of which run multiple Oak LDAP-enabled services, as shown in the following chart.

Oak LDAP growth
Figure 6. Oak LDAP Core User Directory (CUD)


The core user directory stores data about people who have a relationship to the University. CUD collects, matches, reconciles and consolidates data from many University sources. Some of that data is released to registered CUD data consumers according to the attribute release policies set by the data controllers.

CUD became a production service in June 2012 and is now providing data to 175 ITSS and 10 non ITSS (end September 2012). CUD offers a web based interface for simple search, simple matching and recording unit affiliations. As use of simple search has grown more attributes have been added to facilitate building queries.

In addition the following interfaces are beginning to prove popular: SQL push, LDAP push, CUD client.

Currently (as at 24 August):

  • CUD user interface was accessed by 127 people.
  • 117 ITSS with rights over 248 units in total use the user interface
  • 10 non ITSS access the web interfaces.
  • 42 servers access data from the CUD webservice, from a total of 17 DNS sub-domains, reflecting the number of CUD clients, and other non-user interfaces. Kerberos

The Kerberos service is the fundamental means by which users (and systems) can authenticate. It implements the Kerberos protocol which supports single sign-on by design, and offers a high degree of network security by eliminating the transmission of passwords or password-derivatives over the network. Kerberos is the preferred method of authentication in Microsoft Active Directory environments, and is the authentication infrastructure behind WebAuth.

Table 18. Kerberos use
YearTotal unique user principals to dateActive user principals
2011 51959 32899
2012 55888 35027

Service providers can use Kerberos to provide a single sign-on experience for users. The number of non-OUCS 'Kerberised' services, above those integrated purely for WebAuth or Oak LDAP are as follows (figures based on the approximation that each issued service principal has been used to Kerberise one distinct service):

A special case is where the 'Kerberised' service is itself a provider of Kerberos authentication - for example a local Active Directory Domain Controller. In this situation an arrangement of cross-realm trust is established where user authentication against the central Kerberos service (using Oxford username and password) can be used to access local services without a further login. The number of service principals issued to support non-OUCS cross-realm trusts (including Active Directory integration) is shown in  Table 19. Services using Kerberos and cross-realm trusts.

Table 19. Services using Kerberos and cross-realm trusts
YearServices using KerberosCross-realm trusts
2008 49 22
2009 89 26
2010 118 31
2011 165 37
2012 231 49

The following chart shows the year-on-year increase in services consuming Kerberos as an authentication mechanism.

Shows upwards growth of Kerberos authentication
Figure 7. Growth of services using Kerberos as an authentication method Shibboleth

Our Shibboleth service enables Oxford University to participate in federated access management. This enables University members to access resources provided by other organisations, including many of the bibliographic and other electronic resources that the University subscribes to. It also supports the possibility of making Oxford-hosted resources available to members of other registered organisations, such as other UK universities.

Table 20. Growth of Shibboleth service since 2008 below shows a count of the number of distinct users identified by our Shibboleth service - this approximates to the number of Oxford University members accessing Shibboleth-protected resources. We have continued to report a separate figure (in parentheses) that shows the result excluding access to the Oracle Student System which, as it is mandated for use by all students, could cause a significant increase in the number of distinct users authenticating via Shibboleth.

Table 20. Growth of Shibboleth service since 2008
YearDistinct users identified by Shibboleth service
2008 4504
2009 23886 (21071)
2010 31588 (26182)
2011 31948 (26316)
2012 40623 (32281)
Table 21. Growth in the number of Shibboleth service providers
YearService Providers
Internal External
2009 7 80
2010 9 98
2011 23 117
2012 34 138

The number of services where Shibboleth is used to provide access for Oxford account holders ('service providers') has grown as shown in the chart below. The figures include only active service providers - as of 31st August 2012. There are in fact a further 9 registered Shibboleth service providers within Oxford University for which no activity has been recorded. It should be noted that growth in the number of Shibboleth service providers is a result of other (internal and external) parties' choice to use this technology and does not reflect directly on the work of OUCS.

Show upward growth of Shibboleth providers
Figure 8. Growth in the number of Shibboleth service providers

3.4. Nexus Service


During the year 2011/12, Oxford Nexus consolidated its SharePoint 2010 service and migrated the Exchange service to Microsoft Exchange 2010. (This was a major project and is reported in 4.7.1. Nexus Exchange 2010 Upgrade (Phase 2) Project.)

3.4.1. Nexus Exchange

In the following paragraphs, the figures for 2010/11 are given in brackets to serve as a comparison.

In July 2012 (2011), there were 37,000 (36,000) active users (those who had used the service within the previous 90 days) and over 49,000 (47,000) mailboxes on Nexus. An average mailbox contained over 6,500 (5,000) items with a size of 597 (411) MB.

Note that last year we reported a growth rate of 70% (from Aug 2010 to July 2011) in the size of the average mailbox. This year that figure is 32%. This year’s rate is probably more realistic for longer term planning as no large-scale migrations have taken place. In 2010/11 we migrated in many mailboxes from long-standing groupware services (Lotus Notes and GroupWise) and these mailboxes were generally larger than the Nexus average at the time.

The largest five thousand Nexus mailboxes directly consumed 10.0 (8.8) TB of storage (without including data duplication required for data integrity purposes) whereas the remaining 44,268 (42,228) mailboxes consumed 13.5 (9.7) TB of storage. The average size for a 'top five thousand' mailbox was 2.0 (1.8) GB, thus dwarfing the 0.3 (0.2) GB for the "others". 1% of users currently consume 10.8 (9.9) % of the storage allocated to Nexus Exchange.

Table 22. Hand held clients connecting to Nexus Exchange below is guide as to the most common mobile or hand held clients which connected to Nexus Exchange over a 30 day period. The guide is rough as 200 devices could not be identified and some misreporting goes on (e.g. HTC Desire phones often report as "HTC Bravo" and many report as simply "Android"). For conciseness, only clients with a count of 50 or above are listed.

Table 22. Hand held clients connecting to Nexus Exchange
Device type 2010-112011-12
iPhone 4355 5926
iPad 876 2064
Android 781 868
Samsung GT-I9100 (Galaxy S2) 182 466
iPod 550 464
HTC Bravo 395 270
Samsung GTS5830 - 215
HTC Marvel 60 203
HTC Saga 92 182
HTC Buzz 199 164
Samsung GT-I9000 (Galaxy S) 108 102
Windows Phone - 101
HTC Pyramid - 94
Nokia Email family of handsets 106 91
HTC Ace 106 88
Samsung GTS5570 - 70
Samsung GTI9300 - 66
Samsung GTI9100P - 59
Samsung GTS5360 - 50
Other 305 709

3.4.2. Nexus SharePoint


The Oxford Nexus SharePoint service has grown steadily over the last year with the establishment of an active user group (SharePoint Nexus User Group – or SNUG).

As of mid-July 2012 (2011 values in brackets), there were 119 (66) site collections with a total of 925 (330) sites. These are currently consuming 45.3 GB (6.3 GB) of storage. There are now 223 (89) My Sites using 5.4 GB (2.1 GB) of storage.

Over the last 365 days, the SharePoint portal gives the following statistics:

Table 23. SharePoint statistics
Total Number of Page Views 1,317,481
Average Number of Page Views per Day 3610
Average Number of Unique Visitors per Day 111

3.5. Hierarchical File Server


The Hierarchical File Server (HFS) service provides large scale central backup amd archive services to the University community. The HFS runs IBM's Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM) software and supports a backup service for both desktops and departmental and college servers, a remote backup service over VPN and a long-term data repository service for the University's digital assets. It also provides the backup service to the University's Groupware service.

3.5.1. Service Summary

The service's popularity is increasing as client numbers continue to grow to over 6500. Of particular note this year has been the steady rise in server-level clients throughout the year. Such clients naturally have larger datastores to secure and present the HFS with a constant challenge of meeting and absorbing the growth in the backup and archive requirements of an ever-increasing number and size of client machines around Oxford. The table below illustrates this across all four major HFS service areas:

Table 24. Data growth across all four major HFS service areas
Desktop Backup Server Groupware Backup Archive
N FilesDataN FilesDataN FilesDataN FilesData
-0.01 +23.1 +17.2 +22.1 N/A +26.6 +3.8 +15.0

In line with previous years, the figures suggest that files are getting bigger, as growth in data exceeds growth in file numbers. For the desktop service, there was almost no growth in file numbers, yet a 23% rise in total data. Server Backup and Archive services showed the same trend (the Groupware service has migrated to a new backup method that rendered any comparison with previous years invalid).

The total amount of data secured by the HFS (lighter line against right axis in graph below) has grown from around 1185TB to just under 1500TB (1.5PB) in the last year. The total number of files (darker line against left axis) has risen from a little over 1.8 billion to over 2 billion.

Graph showing both nos files and amount data has grown in
Figure 9. Service growth

Usage of the HFS extends throughout the University as illustrated below with proportionate total backup/archive data stored (excluding Groupware data), broken down by division.

Graph shows use of service by division; physical and medical
                                sciences top
Figure 10. Storage space used by Division

Maths & Physical Sciences and Medical Sciences account for almost two-thirds of all storage between them, with other large users including Academic Services and Colleges, both also growing.

3.5.2. Major Activities

Major activities in the past year have centred around the HFS Managing Capacity Phase 2 project – which itself followed on from the successful migration of TSM database architecture and SAN infrastructure in Phase 1. Phase 2 commenced with a successful bid to PICT for a replacement for the ageing HFS tape robot. This had seen 16 years active service and was now capacity constrained, long out of production and based on old technology that was increasingly no longer supported by IBM. A replacement entailed the following:

  1. Construction of a secure module within the SDC to house the tape library in a suitable temperature environment.
  2. Installation and commission of the new tape library within the library module.
  3. Configuration of the tape library and tape drives across a stretched SAN between the Banbury Road site and the SDC .
  4. Migration of existing HFS backup / archive services to the new tape library.
  5. Decommission the existing tape robot.

The project officially started on 01 Jan 2012 and the first three elements were completed by June this year. The main tape library has been in full production since then and it is task 4, the migration of data that is now taking the time. This, however, is well in hand to complete before the scheduled completion at the end of 2012. At the same time, a small tape library has also been installed at the Banbury Road site for the offsite copies to be made to tape and then transported away.

The major benefits to be realized from this project are already apparent – increased performance allows more data to be committed to tape. This allied to increased capacity gives us a growth path that should enable the service – with appropriate upgrades - to meet demand for the next 10 years.

In tandem with the two above, the HFS has been a key partner in the Dual-Site-Resilience project. This seeks to provide a solution to key services by providing co-location within the state-of-the-art SDC and thus provide second-site resilience to services at Banbury Road. The progress of the project has been dependent on a considerable amount of preparatory infrastructure work but is now well underway. Soon half the HFS disk storage will have been relocated to the SDC – but will remain accessible to hosts at both sites on a stretched SAN between the two sites. Thereafter half the host servers will move. Taking advantage of native virtualisation technologies within AIX will allow us to move services between physical locations quickly (within 15 minutes) with almost no interruption to service.

Away from the headline activities, the team continues to develop and support the client backup software for a large number of client systems and to provide important support to clients in their hour of need when they need to recover lost work and data.

3.5.3. Future Plans

Work on the Dual-Site-Resilience project will continue to the end of the year and, following on from that, two server hosts will need replacing. Pilot projects are either underway or planned to investigate the following;

  1. The possibility of performing in-line de-duplication of Nexus exchange backups.
  2. The possibility of offering a fully integrated, full backup service of Vmware guest machines from within the vCenter environment.
  3. An investigation into a lightweight, tiered backup solution that may be offered to a wider client estate – possibly involving shared access to clustered disk and backed by tape backup.

As usual, we will also continue to support backups on latest O/S releases while also continuing to support thousands of clients on older, legacy machines.

3.6. OxCERT


The past year has been a busy one for the Network Security Team. For the second year running, the overall number of incidents handled has decreased slightly, to 1156. This total, however, masks a continued shift towards more incidents requiring more of the team's time to resolve, particularly spam runs and SQL injection attacks.

There has been a big decrease in the number of malicious code incidents observed; indeed over half of them arose in April. This was the biggest malware outbreak OxCERT have seen in many years. The Flashback trojan hit several hundred Apple systems across the University. It highlighted several issues, including widespread perception that "Macs don't get viruses", Apple's sloth in addressing known security vulnerabilities, and their short product support lifetimes. OxCERT's blog posts Musings on mac malware and Apple security support, gained considerable external attention, though it remains to be seen whether Apple make any fundamental changes to their working practices.

The amount of malware observed on Windows systems has meanwhile dropped markedly. There have been notable victories against some of the major botnet operators through the combined efforts of Microsoft, security researchers and law enforcement across multiple countries. Nevertheless the team struggle to devote sufficient resources to detection of new malware variants. Infections frequently exploit vulnerabilities in common software such as PDF readers, web browsers and plugins. Not only do IT staff face a continual battle in keeping applications up-to-date, but other applications may introduce conflicting demands between security and functionality.

Attacks against webservers, especially SQL injection, remain a major problem, and have resulted in significant server downtime and data loss from University systems. It is important to be aware that the consequences of a major data breach can extend far beyond the IT staff. There is the possibility of major reputational damage and the imposition of significant financial penalties by the Information Commissioner, as has happened at other institutions.

The year has seen over one hundred incidents in which University accounts have been used to send large volumes of spam, typically as a result of the account owner falling for a "phishing" spam and divulging their login credentials. E-mail transmission frequently depends on the "reputation" of the sending server, and a major spam run can significantly affect the reputation of University systems. This can be extremely disruptive if it happens with a major commercial provider. Additional countermeasures have been introduced to reduce the likelihood of such events, but it is very difficult to avoid them entirely without also affecting legitimate email traffic.

A major upgrade has substantially improved the team's monitoring on the University's 10GB link to JANET, and a second system purchased as part of the project to make this resilient. Additional equipment has been purchased in order to achieve dual-site resilience for the team's supporting infrastructure.

One team member has moved to be the University's Information Security Officer. While this move has temporarily left a vacancy within OxCERT, the new role and other developments in information security are absolutely critical to the University. OxCERT will be working closely with the Information Security Team, and hope that, in time, many of the problems highlighted as a result of major security incidents can be addressed.

OxCERT remain active in the wider security community, attending events in Malta and Rome as well as numerous meetings in the UK, and sharing information with partner teams where appropriate. In co-operation with two other UK university security teams, a set of standard incident categories has been devised. After taking the size of each institution into account, this allows the number of incidents at different universities to be compared, and for the first time we are able to use these categories in this Annual Report see Figure 11, Security incidents over the past year.

Graph showing security incidents over the past year
Figure 11. Security incidents over the past year

3.7. Help Centre


The upcoming merger of OUCS into the new IT Services department has already had a noticeable impact on the Help Centre and its services even though most changes are still just at the planning stage. For instance the help desk has fielded more queries that would previously have been directed to other service desks. Questions of overall software licence management within the new department and beyond are having an impact on the online shop, while the hardware repair service is starting to consider how it can develop within the new departmental structure.

3.7.1. Help Desk

This year has seen a very small drop in the number of emailed enquiries the help desk team have answered. It is interesting to see that there is a much sharper drop in enquiries from undergraduates ( 32%) and postgraduate (38%). By contrast enquiries have increased from staff (5%), senior members (20%), academic visitors (71%) and retired staff (62%). We do not have sufficient data to explain these changes and can only speculate that support for students has been improved in departments and colleges or that a higher percentage of the student body are now sufficiently IT literate to require less support.

Table 25. Help Desk Usage
2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-9 2007-8
Email Email Email App. Email App. Email App. 
Staff 2,710 2,572 2,167 13 1,784 25 1,661 21
Senior Members 1,139 944 1,089 6 851 13 759 9
Postgraduates 1,192 1,929 740 33 1,156 75 1,029 68
Undergraduates 614 907 417 6 484 21 511 11
Leaver N/A 376 120 1 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Visitors 242 141 131 9 163 10 132 6
Retired Staff 225 139 179 4 101 9 90 8
Other 5418 4,649 6,521 32 2,911 3 2,295 32
TOTAL 11,540 11,373 104 7,450 156 6,477 155

This is the first reporting year in which we have been separating queries which are either more time consuming or require more specialised knowledge. The separation is done manually and is not particularly rigorous, so the figure of 710 queries out of the 11,540 total is probably on the low side. The separation does make it possible to evaluate what percentage of the queries from each group require a higher than average amount of time to resolve, shown in Table 26. Percentage of lengthy or advanced queries. This illustrates that although the numbers of queries coming from academic visitors and retired staff are much lower that other groups, they still represent a significant resource requirement from the help desk team. It is likely that the lower availability of local IT staff to these two groups is a factor in the longer enquiries.

Table 26. Percentage of lengthy or advanced queries
Total EnquiriesAdvanced/lengthy EnquiriesPercentage of total
Staff 2,710 203 7.5%
Senior Members 1,139 93 8.2%
Postgraduates 1,192 106 8.9%
Undergraduates 614 38 6.2%
Visitors 242 28 11.6%
Retired Staff 225 29 12.9%

Only 33% of our queries were submitted via our electronic form and were also usable for analysis. This is a marked decrease from the last few years and is probably due to our email address being more widely circulated and being used in preference to the form. This is regrettable as the barcode information we have from the forms allows us to attribute queries to academic divisions via primary affiliations. The colleges and divisions again hold the top 5 ranks in number of queries, with a very slight increase in the percentage of the total to 88%.

Table 27. Usage of the Help Form by Division
2011-12 2010-11 2009-10 2008-9 2007-8
Total % Rnk. Total % Rnk. Total % Rnk. Total % Rnk. Total % Rnk.
Medical Sciences 753 20 3 884 19 3 854 19 3 713 22 2 412 20 2
Social Sciences 836 22 1 1046 22 2 1,005 23 1 728 22 1 465 23 1
Maths, Physical and Life Sciences 498 13 4 594 13 4 576 13 5 440 13 4 247 12 5
Humanities 463 12 5 563 12 5 623 14 4 419 13 5 260 13 4
Continuing Education 151 4 6 172 4 8 150 3 8 134 4 7 99 5 6
Colleges 796 21 2 1048 22 1 860 19 2 556 17 3 371 18 3
Academic Service 124 3 8 181 4 7 157 4 7 119 4 8 72 4 8
Central Administration 133 4 7 247 5 6 194 4 6 168 5 6 87 4 7
Council 2 0 10 1 0 10 9 0 9 4 0 10 5 0 10
Other Related Bodies 34 1 9 15 0 9 7 0 10 25 1 9 4 0 11
TOTAL 3,790 4,435 3,306 2,035

Compared to last year the percentage of account related queries have fallen by 2% while email questions are up by 5%. Network queries increased by two percentage points and moved from rank 7 to 4. This year was the first time we have enough queries about wireless networks to merit a separate category. Malware, on the other hand has dropped 3 percentage points and is now rank 7 whereas last year it was 5th. To some extent phishing attacks have taken the place of malware problems.

Pie chart showing types of issues seen e.g. malware, software,
                                HFS and registration issues,
Figure 12. Types of issues and their frequency as seen by the Help Desk

3.8. Online Shop


During the reporting year of 2011-12, the OUCS Online Shop has processed 4541 orders for software; this is a 32% increase from last year (Table 28. Type and number of shop orders).

Table 28. Type and number of shop orders
Reporting year201020112012
Total Software related Transactions* 1783 3131 4541
Total transactions including services** 3997 4887 4900
  • *Note: Total transactions exclude poster printing, PC/Laptop Maintenance and Blackberry Enterprise licenses.
  • **Note: Includes poster printing, PC/Laptop Maintenance and Blackberry Enterprise licenses.
  • ***Note: The data above does not include non-shop related transactions – ad hoc license acquisition

Across the divisions, the Medical Sciences bought and/or acquired the most licenses (39.7% of the total). This is a 1.3% decrease in Medical Sciences' share compared to last year. The colleges, taken as a whole, acquired the second most number of licenses (19.5% of total share). Please see Table 29. Share of division purchasing for 2010, 2011 and 2012 for details.

Table 29. Share of division purchasing for 2010, 2011 and 2012
2010 2011 2012
Academic Services 8% 14% 12.7%
Colleges 22% 15% 19.5%
Continuing Education 0% 1% 4.1%
MPLS 24% 15% 13.2%
Medical Sciences 32% 41% 39.7%
Humanities 1% 4% 1.8%
Other 2% 3% 1.3%
Social Sciences 9% 6% 5.1%
University Administration and Services 2% 1% 2.5%

The Online Shop was upgraded from version 4 to version 4.11. Changes include the greater functionality with finding transaction reports and increased functionality with how products are displayed.

Due to the University-wide policy on cookies, all University Online Shops have had to turn off Google Analytics for the reporting year.

The Online Shop also successfully increased user functionality by changing nearly all (where appropriate) of its products into variable products. This means that the shop now has all associated products for software (including license variations, installation DVDs, etc) grouped together, allowing for greater ease of use by customers.

Finally, the University Software Licensing Team managed to renegotiate its deal with QSR International so that the University could provide the statistical package, Nvivo Version 10, to both staff and students free of charge, saving students £110 and staff £360 each. Further, the Online Store has also increased its product range by adding new versions of Adobe Software (Creative Suite 6), SQL 2012, Microsoft Systems Centre Configuration Manager 2012, Endnote X6, SPSS 21, Microsoft MapPoint 2013 and Arc GIS from ESRI software which was successfully negotiated by the Software Licensing Team to provide free licenses to Staff and Students.

3.9. Hardware Repairs and Upgrading, Apple Warranty Services.


Repairing a computer

The hardware service continues to be led by the Hardware Services Manager assisted by one administrator who looks after the coordination of equipment sent off site to our repair partner Equinox. Service staff continue to increase their skills and experience by undertaking training and have achieved Apple Authorised Service Provide status and 10.7 Lion support professional this year as well as studying towards an Open University degree.

Progress in end user PC technology has been relatively quite this year compared to others. Technologies such as USB 3.0, 3D and touch screens are still emerging slowly. Tablet format units and smart phones have however, seen significant development and sales.

This year the service once again increased its machine throughput to 367 machines, which is an increase of 30 machines on the previous year.

Of the manufacturers, Apple continues to be the largest in the numbers presented at 200. Of these 77 were in warranty machines. The remaining 167 machines were PC based. A large number of these were sent to Equinox but some hard drive and memory upgrade work was carried out on the premises.

The diagram below shows the breakdown graphically.

Chart showing types of machines repaired by service
Figure 13. Chart showing types and numbers of machines by manufacturer

A breakdown of the nature of repairs is shown below. Some machines have more than one failure type. The chart shows the main fault diagnosed. Hard drives and main system logic boards remain the highest failure type. Screen related problems have increased and are usually the second highest cost to fix after system board failures. A failure of both almost always renders the machine uneconomical to repair.

The Apple hardware diagnosis server link continues to be a valuable asset to the repair service.

chart showing types of failures e.g. screen, hard disc and fan
Figure 14. Chart showing types of failures encountered during the reporting year

The hardware service continues to do all it can to provide quick, affordable and honest diagnosis and repair of machines. It is however running at full capacity with the resources it currently has and would require investment in a second engineer to improve turn around times. Quality is never compromised but during times leading up to holidays and during holidays, the service does suffer from delays. It is hoped that after the IT Services merger is completed, a full review of the Hardware Service can be carried out to determine future developments, including possible changes to the staffing model and improvements to turn around times.

3.10. Computer Hardware Breakdown Service


The Computer Hardware Breakdown Service offers a very economically priced breakdown service for personal computers and their peripherals such as printers. It is available to University institutions, colleges, and associated institutions. It is also available to University members, including students, on a personal basis for their privately owned equipment. In essence, for a modest fixed fee, the service provides for an engineer to visit on-site, anywhere in the mainland UK, by the next business day after a fault being reported; the fault should be fixed within a further 8 working hours, or an equivalent item of equipment will be offered as a loan until the repair is completed.

OUCS monitors call-outs and reports of unsatisfactory service, and the service (offered by an external company) has been extremely good. The number of items registered has fallen slightly (256 machines in total) compared to the previous year; we assume that this continues to be caused by a general trend in the industry of providing at least three-year warranties as standard coupled with machines being replaced once these warranties have expired and the current economic climate faced by higher educational institutions. The decrease has been mainly in departmental computers and printers.

The table below shows the numbers of different types of equipment registered, and their ownership.

Table 30. Equipment registered with service
DepartmentCollege PrivateStudent
screen 3 0 0 0
other 24 3 2 3
storage 2 0 0 1
computer 611 20 104 79
server 15 2 0 0
printer 248 27 11 2
Total 903 52 117 85

3.11. Registration Services


It has again been a busy year for registration. The Registration RT queue now only covers the specialized registration services e.g. name changes, project accounts, generic address creation. The majority of the general registration queries are now handled on the Help Centre queue. Specialised queries however, still remain high. Some items that were previously handed by back-office staff have been transfered to the Registration RT queue following the retirement of a member of staff in February.

Table 31. Number of RT tickets received per year
Reporting Year No of RT Tickets
2011-12 8089
2010-11 7150
2009-10 6938

3.11.1. Account Statistics

An SSO account gives access to many applications (such as OxCORT tutorial reporting, GSS Graduate Student System, Student Records and library e-resources) as well as OUCS services. Secondary non-personal accounts can be created for additional roles. The 'mailbox only' accounts where access is granted by delegation remain popular. The number of these has increased by 43% since the provious year.

Table 32. Total number of accounts - with and without passwords
YearTotalPercentage activatedMailbox only accounts
2012 39020 93 1142
2011 41749 91 796
2010 44708 95 540

In the next table, a division is assigned to a user based on the department specified on their University Card. Undergraduates (in brackets) are listed under colleges, irrespective of who runs their course. The length of many student cards have been shortened this year, so fewer are current on 1st Aug.

Table 33. Numbers of all SSO accounts (personal and project) listed by division
Division 2011/12 2010/11 2009/10
College 13792 (8796) 14450 (9499) 16318 (12141)
Medical Sciences 7221 7355 7533
Social Sciences 4683 5457 6295
Maths, Physical and Life Sciences 5095 5689 5535
Humanities 3383 3401 3797
Academic Services 1498 1595 1975
Continuing Education 869 1248 1256
Central Administration 2556 2349 1683
Council 6 8 114
None 81 78 118
Other 136 113 84
Table 34. Numbers of SSO accounts (personal and project) listed by University card status
Status 2011/122010/112009/10
Undergraduate 8796 9499 12141
Postgraduate 7278 8326 9856
Staff 7634 8216 8022
Senior Member 5114 4971 4788
College Staff 4070 3826 3572
Departmental Staff 1863 2099 1965
Visitor 1568 1947 1769
Retired 1332 1323 1205
Cardholder 757 874 706
Visiting/Recognized/Other Students 431 461 510
Virtual 177 207 174

Remote access accounts are used for access to the popular OWL wireless network and Eduroam.

Table 35. Total number of remote access accounts
YearNumber of accounts
2012 23023
2011 23648
2010 23151
Table 36. Remote access accounts by division
College 8124 8063 7948
Social Sciences 2745 3469 3668
Medical Sciences 4497 4121 4046
Maths, Physical and Life Sciences 3567 3882 3523
Humanities 2292 2393 2469
Academic Services 530 490 620
Continuing Education 380 465 396
Central Administration 807 710 408
Council 2 1 26
Other 51 28 17
None 28 26 31
Table 37. Remote access accounts listed by status
Status 2011/122010/112009/10
Undergraduate 7167 7089 7383
Postgraduate 5419 6724 6916
Senior Member 3542 3381 3126
Staff 3698 3437 2969
College Staff 996 776 676
Departmental Staff 916 884 738
Visitor 741 836 707
Retired 526 496 446
Visiting/Recognized/Other Students 17 25 191

3.11.2. Mail Address Management

It has been a busy year for unit and mail domain management. In 2011/12 OUCS allocated email addresses for 45 out of 46 colleges and PPHs, and 243 departments out of 265. A further 14 departments are in the process of being wound down.

The number of departments has grown considerably over the last year, as the Registration database was brought into line with Payroll. 23 subunits were created in UAS, 15 in the Bodleian and 8 in Modern Languages.

Over the last year the following domains have been created:

Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurology
Centre for Neural Circuits and Behaviour
nstitute for Science, Innovation and Society
Oxford Vaccine Group
Cantemir Institute
Oxford University Consulting
Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP
IT Services
Radcliffe Department of Medicine & RDM Experimental Medicine
nstitute for New Economic Thinking
Oxford Network for the Environment

The following departments have been wound down or are in the process of being wound down:

Applied Social Studies
Regional Liaison Unit
Old Bodleian Library
Clinical Pharmacology
Health Care Epidemiology
Exam Schools
Clinical Geratology
Indian Institute Library
James Martin School
Medical Oncology
Pain Relief Unit
Radiation, Oncology & Biology
Lipid Metabolism Group
Slavonic & Modern Greek Library
Table 38. Number of email addresses held in the database (personal and generic)
Colleges 30638 29304 31912
Departments 33943 32949 31961

We hold the mail addresses for people who belong to units which manage their own mail, so those addresses are available to University processes. In 2011/12 there were 2899 (2994 in the previous year). We also hold non-personal email addresses. There were 8743 in 2011/12 (8441 in the previous year). Mass Mailing

Mass mailings are now delegated to service providers. Very few mass mailings were handled by Registration in 2011/12. EZMLM Mailing Lists

Registration creates and deletes most EZMLM mailing lists , apart for those belonging to Chemistry and UAS, who largely manage their own. The numbers below are for the total number of lists by division. A total of 6110 lists were managed on the central EZMLM server (5746 in 2010/11).

Table 39. Ownership by division (excluding Clubs and Societies)
Maths, Physical and Life Sciences 1069 1025 967
Colleges 1033 899 809
Social Sciences 665 671 662
Academic Services 166 137 466
Humanities 376 358 388
Medical Sciences 299 271 279
University Administration and Services 2481 2348 2088
Other 11 32 84
Continuing Education 10 5 7

3.11.3. Changes in User-Facing Services

This year has largely been a time of consolidation. There were no major changes in user-facing services. The retirement of a long-serving member of staff in February 2012 caused some routine activities, which had previously been handled by the Registration database team, be transfered to Registation staff. Student Account Management

The process of creating accounts for new students, and emailing them their activation credentials, worked very well this year. As in previous years, some liaison with college admissions staff was needed where email addresses supplied by OSS turned out not to work. Nexus Service

There were few changes to the Registration interface to the Nexus service this year. It became possible to see if a mailbox had a vacation message attached to it. Where this had been set automatically on the expiry of a mailbox, it could now be identified and removed if the mailbox was reactivated. University Cards for Retirees

A change was made to University cards for Retirees. The previous single status (FS) turned into three:

  • Use old departmental address (depending whether the holder's old department was prepared to sponsor them to continue to use their departmental email address);
  • Use @retired email address;
  • No email at all.

These three statuses had to be modelled in the Registration database. Other Activities

Members of the team have also been involved in:

Working with other units and projects

  • Establishing new email domains in collaboration with Planning and Resource Allocation
  • Liasing with the Sports Federation and Proctors Office over access to resources for Student Clubs and Societies; including improved handling of the process for non-Sports clubs.
  • Liaison with Academic Administration, Conference of Colleges, and IT Support Staff on the Registration processes.
  • Implementing Proctors' decisions on rusticated students' access to resources
  • Working with the Card office giving them lists of discrepencies between the card and payroll
  • Working with BSP on new data feeds from the new HR system - this involves being able to handle XML data.
  • Working with the CUD project

3.12. Information and Support Group Development Team (InfoDev)


InfoDev provides data solutions, web projects, and research support and advice to OUCS, to the University, and also to external clients. This covers a wide variety of activities including the creation, management, analysis, visualisation and publication of digital information of all sorts.

The aim of InfoDev is to:

  1. Give useful, consistent and free advice about IT problems in scholarly research
  2. … and then implement the solutions, on a cost-recovery basis
  3. Help people with web site design and information architecture
  4. … and then build web sites for them, on a cost-recovery basis
  5. Develop (web-based) applications for OUCS

As in previous years where InfoDev subsumed the Web Design Consultancy (WDC) and Research Technologies Service (RTS), during this year it absorbed the Mobile Oxford team of developers. This has enabled greater collaboration with the Mobile Oxford team, and assistance in developing numerous projects. InfoDev continues to provide the same services as the WDC and RTS did in previous years, but now with extra experience in mobile applications.

InfoDev has continued to provide web design advice and development support to the University. With the aid of the wider skill-base provided by the InfoDev team, we have improved our Content Management System (CMS) service, providing a full hosting and maintenance package for sites we develop in the Drupal CMS.

The team has also maintained its range of services to assist staff in planning and carrying out research projects, and in maximizing the impact and sustainability of the digital outputs of research. This includes the provision of advice and consultative support on funding bids before a research project has been funded; assistance in setting up a project once funded; ongoing support during the lifetime of a project; and support for the dissemination and sustainability issues at the end of a project.

3.12.1. Activities

InfoDev’s main activity breaks down into three areas: development for OUCS, projects outside of OUCS, and providing advice, support and consultancy. Examples of these are provided below: OUCS Development
InfoDev has provided input to a number of OUCS projects and systems, including:
  • OUCS website – provided input into ongoing revision of OUCS homepage design
  • Course Booking System – InfoDev develops and maintains the course booking system. In addition to basic bug fixes and maintenance undertaken pending any outcomes of the ICCP process, InfoDev moved the Course Booking System to its own server to protect it from changes to the OUCS website, and to adopt the new IT Services branding.
  • Status – InfoDev provides maintenance and development on status.ox.ac.uk, adding new services to be monitored when feasible. This year the status system was upgraded to an entirely new infrastructure and front-end.
    Shows new Status website home
    Figure 15. New Status website
  • Mobile Oxford – provides one of the world's leading HE mobile services. Many infrastructural changes, improvements, and developments to our open source "Molly Project".
  • Computer Hardware Breakdown Service – implemented system for sending machine registrations directly to the Equinox database.
  • Hardware Repair Service – developing an interface that bypasses the online shop and provides the Help Centre with improved control of the service.
  • Google Search Appliance (GSA) – maintaining the GSA to provide custom search results for many units across the University. Provision of new collections on the search engine and assistance with tailoring the results to integrate with websites.
  • OxItems – continued to provide development support, bug fixes, and security patches for this service. The team is investigating the possibility of developing a replacement for this service.
  • OxPoints – ongoing maintenance and development has taken place for OxPoints, our geolinking server that is increasingly used as a canonical source of information about physical aspects of the University. In addition to updating of information, this year has seen the development of a web-based editor for OxPoints data made available to ITSS.
  • data.ox – the InfoDev team has been responsible for the creation, implementation, and ongoing development of the University's linked open data repository: http://data.ox.ac.uk/. Although a great deal of work has been undertaken on this repository the team will be further developing this and increasing the number of datasets of institutional data available.
  • Telecoms Self Service – Mobile Oxford team developed a custom voicemail management system for Telecoms and will be expanding this to other areas of telephone use.
  • OxGarage – initially developed as a tangential output to a funded EU research project, the OxGarage service provides multiple REST-enabled pipelined conversions of document formats and is made available as a demonstrator of the underlying technologies.
  • Cookie Compliance Script – InfoDev devloped the javascript tool to add to OUCS websites using cookies in compliance with the UK Cookie Law.
  • OTA – the InfoDev team is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the Oxford Text Archive, including related projects such as the British National Corpus.
  • Display Screen Equipment Self Assessment – InfoDev has provided updates and security patches to the system it designed for self assessment of workstation health and safety.
  • Logo Design – InfoDev undertook a number of logo design projects inside OUCS. InfoDev Projects

InfoDev have undertaken approximately 50 Web projects over the past year including:

3 infodev designed website home pages
Figure 16. Selection of websites created by Infodev
Academic Projects
  • Bangor Pontifical Project – Ongoing digital edition work
  • British National Corpus – Supporting BNC users
  • Cantigas de Santa Maria – Database and site development
  • Castellanie – Critical edition format transformation
  • CLAROS – Classical art on the semantic web
  • Communication and Empire: Chinese Empires in Comparative Perspective – site building and migration
  • Corsi Collection of Decorative Stones – Design and development of website, database, and digital edition
  • Early Medieval Literature Online – Assisted with restructuring section of a Drupal site
  • Electronic Database of Poetic Forms – Document transformation and Drupal website
  • Farmer and Henley Slang Dictionary – Bodleian iPhone App
  • OxCAP – Making course data open and online
  • Stationers' Register Online – Custom XML schema, document up-conversion
  • Teaching the Palestinian Revolution – Developing database of historical sources and teaching material
  • Verse Miscellanies – bespoke XML transformations
  • Wandering Jew's Chronicle – multi-witness critical edition
  • Wycliffite Bibles – Online image database
Information websites
(sites designed and implemented in Drupal)
Bespoke systems
  • Blavatnik School of Government iPad App – Departmental iPad Application
  • Command and Control project, Security Services – business process analysis resulting in custom online system
  • GSA Secure Searching project – developing Google searching of secure sites
  • Research Facilities Database – Linked open data portal for catalogue of equipment
  • Telecoms Self Service – Developing custom system for voicemail management
Interface and graphic design
  • Dataflow – Extensive interface and accessibility consultancy
  • Department of International Development (QEH) – Template design for departmental site and blog
  • Great Writers Inspire – Interface work, e-book generation
  • Intensive Care Outcome Network (ICON) – Template design
  • J.W. Jenkinson Laboratory for Evolution and Development – Template design
  • Monumenta Asiae Minoris Antiqua XI – Interface and data mapping
  • Oxford German Network – Banner design
  • Politics Inspires – Interface consultancy Advice, Consultancy and Training

InfoDev provides consultancy and training in various areas to support University members in their activities:

Free advice
InfoDev have provided free consultancy advice to well over 50 different units or projects inside the University.
External work
The InfoDev team also has provided a limited amount of pro bono advice and support to those outside the University (e.g. in supporting the OxGarage service, acting as reviewers for funding applications, etc.), as well as partnering with a number of external institutions for larger funding bids.
Usability/Accessibility consultancy
InfoDev has provided in-depth consultancy on projects (e.g. the DataFlow projects)
Technical input on Research bids
InfoDev supplied technical proof reading and best-practice advice for numerous research bids from all areas of the University.
Summer School
InfoDev team members organized, ran, and taught at the Digital.Humanities@Oxford Summer School, a week-long, parallel stream, digital humanities training school mixing practical technology teaching with more abstract, best practice discussions and invited plenary speakers.
InfoDev members taught various one-off workshops either for individual projects, on specific technologies (e.g. XSLT), or at the request of specific departments (e.g. Linguistics).

In most cases, advice and limited consultancy has been provided free of charge. Bespoke training for individual projects is charged on a cost-recovery basis, as is any significant development work.

3.12.2. Ongoing Services

InfoDev provides maintenance and development for a number of ongoing services. Examples of these include the Course Booking System, the University's Google Search Appliance (GSA), the Mobile Oxford interface (m.ox), and the University Status system, among others. Notes on the work on the GSA and m.ox are provided below. Google Search Appliance

The University's Google Search Appliance (GSA) indexes up to 1 million public web documents and web databases from ca. 1000 web sites on the University network. New content on web sites is re-indexed daily to ensure search results are current (in contrast to the much less frequent indexing by public search engines). Very active web sites are re-indexed more frequently, and busy servers can be checked less frequently, on request. To minimise the load on web servers, most indexing takes place overnight.

The GSA powers the search form that appears on the University's home web page, and on the web pages of many colleges and departments. The table below summarises the format of documents indexed by the GSA in 2012.

Table 40. Document formats indexed by the GSA in 2012
Document typeNumber indexed
HTML 685,866
PDF 76,451
Plain Text 46,784
MS Word 5,537
PowerPoint 2,468
Postscript 2,422
Others (incl Excel, Flash,RSS,RTF,XML) 16,631
Pie chart showing % different formats indexed by
Figure 17. Google Search Appliance: % Formats indexed

During the reporting year 2011-2012, the GSA received approximately 4.1 million search requests for which it successfully returned results. The latency between query receipt and returning results was typically less than 0.3 seconds. The number of concurrent queries peaked in Michaelmas term at ca. 7 per second.

A second GSA, acquired in 2012, serves as both a hot backup for the primary GSA and for development.

InfoDev continued to work with BSP to offer searches of secure UAS web documents held in Site Manager CMS to authorized groups within the University. Following Google's advice to protect the GSA with a firewall before indexing secure content, we have investigated high performance firewalls.

Google's licence allows us to index a maximum of only 1 million web documents. We now advise the creators of large web collections to provide a local search facility, tailored to the specific needs of their collection, to which the GSA can refer callers. Mobile Oxford


This year the Mobile Oxford team was merged into InfoDev. Their work and collaboration had been invaluable in a number of InfoDev projects over the last couple years, and organizationally merging the team into InfoDev made a great deal of sense.

Since its creation in 2009, Mobile Oxford has grown in popularity and capability to be regarded as one of the world's leading HE mobile services and is released as an open source framework. Integrating data and resources from a multitude of sources both internal and external to the University, it provides a range of interfaces that are available on any mobile device capable of browsing the web. This includes everything from location sensitive library searching, full access to Oxford's award winning podcast library and even real time bus and train information for the city.

In addition to expanding the functionalities of Mobile Oxford by integrating more University systems and functions, the Mobile Oxford team has taken on other projects including a sorely needed replacement to http://status.ox.ac.uk and a new web-based Telecoms self-service project providing a visual voicemail service, a conference call connecting facility and personal VoIP phone configurator.

3.13. InfoWeb

The InfoWeb team continues to oversee and manage OUCS’s web presence. The team focuses on keeping content well-managed and up-to-date as opposed to the work of the InfoDev team which undertakes development of innovative services, often on a chargeable basis.

InfoWeb has one full-time member of staff, and a part-time manager. The team often assists service providers in editing user documentation and in converting all type of web material to formats accessible to those using screen readers or other accessibility devices. InfoWeb is grateful to InfoDev for support in covering webmaster queries during busy times or times of absence.

In order to keep web pages current and keep track of them InfoWeb has a system in place that runs regular link-checks and ownership-checks of web pages on the sites for which it is responsible.

InfoWeb is responsible for:

  • OxITEMS (with support from InfoDev)
  • Status.ox.ac.uk (with support from InfoDev)
  • www.oucs.ox.ac.uk
  • staff.oucs.ox.ac.uk
  • www.ict.ox.ac.uk
  • The information displays in OUCS reception and the user refreshment area

During the reporting period a complete re-design of the front page of the OUCS web site was completed. InfoWeb’s main member of staff undertook considerable work to implement the new design. Before the home page was released extensive usability evaluation was undertaken using students and staff and this enabled many usability enhancements to be made before go-live in November 2011.

Front home pages of IT Services and OUCS
Figure 18. OUCS and IT Services websites

We also helped our WebLearn team design and develop their new guidance site which is used to help both staff and students get the most out of WebLearn.

In the final year of OUCS’s existence, much work has been done into investigating ways to deliver the OUCS web content using the Terminalfour site manager software and CMS that is in use in the rest of the UAS division of the University. In the latter part of the reporting period a large amount of effort from InfoWeb was diverted to the work of building a new website for the new IT Services department (http://www.it.ox.ac.uk/). This is the first of our sites to use HTML5 and principles of responsive web design. It was delivered on time and to a high standard.

3.13.1. Yearly Statistics

The most significant change to usage of the OUCS web site was that hits from mobile devices jumped from 2% of the total to 5% of the total during the reporting period. The spread of mobile devices is also widening. The iPhone is still the most popular. Android devices are second with iPads very close behind. However by just combining iPhone and iPad results together clearly shows Apple devices dominate mobile visits (48.3%).

Figure 19. Mobile devices using the OUCS website

The vast majority of visits to the OUCS web site are from the UK and Oxford in particular, but we do receive hits from around the world too.

Pie chart showing most visits from the UK
Figure 20. Origin of visitors to OUCS site

The OUCS web site continued to see a wide spread of different browsers accessing it throughout the reporting period. Internet Explorer and FireFox are still the dominant browsers but Chrome has gained in popularity over the last year.

Browsers used to access the main OUCS site: IE and Firefox
Figure 21. Browsers used to access the main OUCS site

3.14. WebLearn (Virtual Learning Environment) Service


The academic year 2011-12 was a busy and productive one for the WebLearn team. New WebLearn was upgraded a number of times and in September 2011, old WebLearn (Bodington) became read only. Please note that this year the Turnitin service has its own section in the annual report.

The recent WebLearn development and upgrade to Sakai v2.8 has resulted in significant enhancements to the system. Some highlights include: a short URL facility of any page or tool, the introduction of site templates, improved functionality of the Sign-up tool, an improved Forums’ user interface and ability to set open and close date for forums and topics, and improved external integration capabilities (for Forums).

The WebLearn team continues to provide generic and customised support at three levels: individual, group and department / college. Similar to last year, most of the WebLearn training courses have been well attended. We also introduced a new course called ‘Creating interactive learning resources’.

WebLearn development and support has contributed to a healthy uptake of WebLearn during the year. The majority of colleges and departments now use new WebLearn. WebLearn users are keen to share their experience and good practice with others. For example, 9 guest speakers from different departments presented their use cases at the WebLearn User Group meetings. Four academics won the OxTALENT awards in the WebLearn category due to their innovative use of WebLearn in teaching and strategic use of WebLearn across a department.

3.14.1. Usage Statistics

Since old WebLearn is winding down, we will present statistics mainly about the new service.

There are now a total of 3243 sites – this is an increase of 654 sites compared to last year.

We have traditionally presented the number of unique logins during the first week of Trinity term; however, with users being spread over two systems and with some logging in to just one and others logging into both, it is now not possible to present combined figures.

Table 41. Traffic for both WebLearn systems during Trinity term week 1
Year: 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
WebLearn version: Old Old Old Old Old Old New Yr. Total Old New Yr. Total Old New Yr. Total
Unique visitors 4,781 6,790 10,523 9,076 9,641 - 4,651 - - 7,387 - - 10,054
Requests / hits per 1000 1,020 1,831 1,999 2,104 2,307 1,364 4,291 5,656 384 6,781 7,166 162 11,422 11,584
Bandwidth in GB 11.55 16.24 69.98 42.96 70.89 42 40.5 82.5 19.7 91.62 111.32 11.8 175.64 187.44
Pages served - - - - - 393,226 85,556 - 120,680 147,831 - 56,502 290,283 346,785

There has been a larger increase in bandwidth this year than last year and there has also been an increase in page hits. The figures for page hits are slightly misleading because each page served in new WebLearn contains more hits than for old WebLearn – this is probably due to the larger number of graphical elements on a new WebLearn page.

Shows increasing amount of bandwidth used 2005 - 2012
Figure 22. Bandwidth in GB for Week 1 of Trinity Term
Shows early growth and final decline of old WebLearn
Figure 23. Growth and decline of 'old' WebLearn

The following tables refer exclusively to new WebLearn.

Table 42. Number of different people who have logged in
Type of user Distinct users
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Oxford SSO 21,249 25,898 29,295
'Other' 2,013 3,185 3,087
Table 43. Number of sites per division
Division Number of sites
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
ASUC* 114 51 55
Colleges 228 301 372
Cont. Ed. 4 113 171
Humanities 151 313 490
MPLS 107 158 194
Medical Sciences 468 576 687
Social Sciences 544 799 930
UAS 132 278 344
Table 44. Storage used by division (*OUCS left ASUC in Jan 2011 and became part of UAS)
Division MB Storage Used
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
ASUC* 7,983.5 1,507.3 1,935.0
Colleges 2,483.9 6,510.3 11,056.4
Cont. Ed. 4.7 7,137.1 9,765.0
Humanities 13,334.7 40,878.9 54,558.1
MPLS 6,136.2 12,828.8 26,746.3
Medical Sciences 23,829.1 50,724.4 65,739.8
Social Sciences 19,451.6 31,379.2 56,364.7
UAS 6,228.6 20,782.4 25,696.8
Table 45. Number of files by division (*OUCS left ASUC in Jan 2011 and became part of UAS)
Division Number of files
2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
ASUC* 8,812 2,704 2,854
Colleges 9,086 12,961 22,149
Cont. Ed. 104 4,694 8,988
Humanities 11,447 32,758 41,477

There are a total of 218,684 files resident in new WebLearn, this is an increase of 60,094 compared to 2010-11.

3.14.2. WebLearn Courses and Guidance

WebLearn offered a variety of courses during the reporting year:

Table 46. WebLearn courses
Course title Attendees Frequency
WebLearn: Fundamentals 98 1 per month
WebLearn: Making your site work 26 Twice (once per term)
WebLearn: Migrating your content Online course book for self study
WebLearn: Tools to support Teaching and Learning 13 Once per term
WebLearn: Surveys 20 Once per term
WebLearn: Using Mobile Oxford 26 Once per term
WebLearn: Tools for creating interactive online resources 5 (new course) Once per term

In addition we also ran a number of tailored sessions within departments or colleges. A total of 21 people attended such events.

The WebLearn team was also available during ITLP's Computer8 drop-in surgery session which ran every Friday morning during term time. WebLearn Guidance

The WebLearn Guidance site, a ‘one-stop-shop’ for WebLearn users, has been redesigned with a much more user friendly interface. It is now easier to navigate to find WebLearn help information. Due to a major WebLearn upgrade this year (v2.6 to v2.8), a large number of help documents have been updated including WebLearn Case Studies, 'How To' guides, ‘Step-by-Step' and 'Least You Need To Know' guides.

Home page of guidance site
Figure 24. WebLearn guidance site

The WebLearn Guidance site: http://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info. Development of New WebLearn Templates

A site template facility has recently been added which means that instead of creating a new WebLearn site from scratch, one can now base it upon a template. These templates impose structure and good practice before any content is added, in other words, much of the planning and layout has been done so that one does not need to start from a blank site. It is hoped that use of a template will also benefit the students who ask for a commonality in structure and consistency across WebLearn sites.

Three of the proposed six templates currently exist: Template for tutors, Template for lecturers, and Template for content. There is more information about templates in the WebLearn guidance site. WebLearn User Group

The WebLearn User Group (WLUG) which takes place once a term remains very popular. The event always includes cream tea and scones meaning that booking is essential, see: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/itlp/courses/detail/TOVD. Details also appear in the WebLearn area of the OUCS website: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/weblearn/.

The User Group enables interested parties to come together to share ideas and practices and to hear about recent and future developments. Guest speakers are invited to come and give a short informal presentation about how WebLearn works for them. Guest speakers over the last year included:

Dr Catherine Walter (Dept of Education):
Using WebLearn and Turnitin with Education students
Rev Dr James Robson (Wycliff Hall):
Supporting students’ academic formation using WebLearn
Dr Helen Christian (Dept of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics):
Experiments with WebLearn tools in Medical Sciences
Damion Young and Jon Mason (Medical Sciences Learning Technologies):
Adapting WebLearn for the Biomedical Sciences programme, and other tips from MSD
Lettitia Derrington (Administrator, Continuing Education):
Supporting Continuing Education programmes and modules using WebLearn
Wulf Forrester-Barker (IT Manager, NDORMS):
WebLearn with Green Fingers - is your WebLearn patch like weeds on bare ground, or is it organic and fertile?
Ed Long (Blavatnik School of Government):
WebLearn as a back end: BSG's iPad app project
Mike Heaney (Bodleian Libraries):
Copyright do's and don'ts

The three meetings of the WLUG in the academic year 2011-12 attracted about 74 people in total. Each meeting had about 26 attendees. For more information visit the 'WebLearn User Group' site: https://weblearn.ox.ac.uk/info/eas WebLearn Blog

The WebLearn blog is still proving popular: 80 posts were made over the course of the year and all were about WebLearn or Sakai (the software underpinning WebLearn). The most popular month (May 2012) saw 1050 people access the blog. It is an invaluable resource for WebLearn users and is linked to from various other areas such as Medical Sciences Division Learning Technologies. User Queries

The OUCS Help Desk is now the primary point of contact for WebLearn queries. Nevertheless the WebLearn team still answered 604 RT email queries in addition to a large number of private email and phone queries. Presentations

Members of the WebLearn team gave presentations at the following conferences last year: ALT-C 2011, Euro Sakai Conference in Amsterdam, Oxford's ICTF 2012 and UAS conferences. Regular round-ups and induction seminars are given via the ITS3 network. WebLearn Development

There have been a number of development initiatives over the course of last year. Virtually all of which have been within new WebLearn.

Student Enrolment System (SES)
Building on the success of the Student Enrolment System (SES) project, further development work was carried out to extend and improve this area in the SES II project.
Short URL:
A short url facility can shorten the url of any page/tool in WebLearn.
Site templates:
Three templates available for creating WebLearn sites
New features in Forums include an improved user interface, sortable threads, displaying author photos, setting availability for forums or topics, and linking to a message directly.
Two major changes to Resources are the short URL facility and a more descriptive explanation of permissions.
A large number of new features have been developed in the Sign-up tool, for example, adding a new ‘Categories’ field, enabling automatic creation of internal subgroups based on sessions, and manually emailing attendees.
The new profile tool comes with a number of new features. It is much easier to add photos to your profile. The improved privacy settings enable you to specify what information in your profile is shareable. In addition, it has been integrated with a number of social networking tools including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Skype and MySpace.
Schedule (Calendar):
My Workspace calendars can be subscribed to from within MS Outlook or other calendaring applications
Email Sender:
This is an improved version of the old Mailtool
Ownership of templates can be changed and formatting problems with PDF reports have been fixed. Personalised rating scales can be created and email notifications now work properly.
Reading lists:
These have been updated to use Aleph reference indicators
Site copy:
A simple search and replace of references to the old site are replaced with references to the new site. (In the past links to documents in the new site would point to documents stored within the old site.) Migration from Old WebLearn

All the development work to enable migration to take place is complete with the exception of the ability to create and reuse custom groups which is dependent on the proposed groups Store project.

It is difficult to estimate how many people have migrated their material. As far as we can tell (looking at page requests and bandwidth above), the vast majority of users have moved. There is an ITLP course and a variety of guides available on migration via the WebLearn Guidance Site.

3.15. The IT Learning Programme (ITLP)


Around 4200 people attended our courses this year; with 1343 people attending 3 or more courses. 3060 people turned up to our special events and inductions.

teacher and student
Figure 25. teacher and student

The IT Learning Programme (ITLP) is part of the Learning Technologies Group (LTG). Its aim is to enable all members of the University to integrate good ICT practice into their work, and in doing so we take account of the diversity of learning styles, expectations and previous skill levels that exist. The small team of experienced teachers, event organisers and administrators have the following responsibilities:

  • Delivering an open programme of IT related courses that benefit all members of the University.
  • Providing closed courses for specific University groups.
  • Organising courses delivered by external experts, both as part of our open programme and as closed courses.
  • Supporting services offered by OUCS to the rest of the University by way of short, specially developed courses.
  • Promoting the use of technology in teaching and learning by dissemination of best practice.
  • Providing post-course support to course participants.
  • Sharing our experience of teaching room design and provisioning with other departments around the University.
  • Organising and hosting learning events in our fully equipped training rooms for local, national and international audiences.

3.15.1. Summary of ITLP Activity

During the course of the year we presented 562 open sessions (1589 teaching hours, 3809 distinct individuals) covering 199 topics, and 55 closed sessions (217 teaching hours, 749 distinct individuals) covering 52 topics.

The figures below show the demand by individuals for the areas of the programme broken down by course category and organisational area.

Table 47. Breakdown of course demand by course category and organisational area
Humanities MPLS Med Sci. Social Sci. Acad. Serv. Colleges Cont. Edu. UAS External Total
Communication & Collaboration 153 174 276 260 76 113 35 218 8 1313
Data Analysis 146 201 572 817 84 223 56 139 35 2273
Document Preparation 279 188 494 433 62 143 63 98 22 1782
IT services 30 66 75 53 21 58 7 123 3 436
Multimedia 142 175 207 217 79 106 21 105 52 1104
Pre/Post course support 19 33 45 50 8 38 3 42 2 240
Programming 49 446 366 226 27 119 14 74 28 1349
Research Studies 475 255 314 480 135 115 131 56 83 2044
Web Technologies 79 67 96 132 62 64 14 84 45 643
Total 1372 1605 2445 2668 554 979 344 939 278 11184

MPLS = Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Med Sci. = Medical Sciences; Social Sci. = Social Sciences; Acad. Serv. = Academic Services; Cont. Edu. = Continuing Education; UAS = University Administration and Services.

The chart below shows how the demand for our programme has changed compared with last year:

Figure 26. Demand (bookings) per course category

Two new categories of course are now identified: IT Services support and Pre and Post course support. IT Services include courses on the use of the HFS (Hierarchical File Storage) system, and WebEx. Pre- and Post-course support includes our new Beginners IT course and our Computer 8 post-course drop-in workshop.

A breakdown of the other activities of the programme is shown below:

Table 48. Breakdown of other ITLP activities showing the demand by organisational area
Humanities MPLS Med Sci. Social Sci. Acad. Serv. Colleges Cont. Edu. UAS External Total
Closed courses 134 193 328 236 14 19 19 24 5 972
WISER 299 176 192 270 52 61 36 23 29 1138
make: 75 27 22 60 48 30 2 87 4 355
Skills Toolkit 94 64 127 164 3 4 15 2 1 474
Breakfast at OUCS 7 23 27 16 3 18 1 37 132
Inductions 545 389 412 986 - - 35 - - 2332
Advanced ECDL 2 3 9 6 6 4 6 1 37

MPLS = Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences; Med Sci. = Medical Sciences; Social Sci. = Social Sciences; Acad. Serv. = Academic Services; Cont. Edu. = Continuing Education; UAS = University Administration and Services.

† Also included in table 47, extracted here for emphasis.
‡ Does not include 1100 international students of indeterminate affiliation.

We try to ensure that we address the IT learning needs of all members of the University. The chart below shows the demand by role, together with the previous two year’s data for comparison:

Figure 27. Breakdown of course demand (% of total) by role within the University compared with previous years

Similarly, here is the data presented by affiliation:

Figure 28. Breakdown of course demand by organisational area compared with previous years New Courses and Initiatives
  • ArcGIS Desktop and Explorer (in conjunction with the Bodleian Libraries)
  • Beginners’ IT
  • Campus MovieFest in association with Apple
  • Digital Humanities Summer School
  • Endnote for Mac
  • Google Analytics
  • LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Office 2010
  • Python
  • Return visit from Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen
  • Scribus (open source desk top publishing tool)
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Sketchup (open source 3D modelling application) Course Support Systems
teacher and student
Figure 29. Teacher helping student

During this year the ITLP team have worked with the OUCS Information Development team to include a keyword search facility.

We continue to contribute to discussions about the specification of the new University HRIS system.

We have also contributed to The OxCAP project, a JISC funded initiative which will provide an XCRI-CAP XML feed of graduate training opportunities at Oxford. When complete, this will mean that graduate students will have a ‘one-stop-shop’ (in WebLearn) of available training modules with a search facility and links to book a place. The ITLP Portfolio

The ITLP Portfolio supports the range of taught courses by offering downloadable course handbooks, student exercise files and additional information such as 'how-to' videos. Over this year there were 2629 visits by 1318 distinct individuals, of whom 151 made four or more visits (a 10% increase in number of visitors, from last year).

A breakdown of visitors by Division/Unit is given below:

Figure 30. Breakdown of ITLP Portfolio visitors by organisational area Course Feedback

Our web-based participant feedback system, Indicate by Ostrakon, continues to allow us to maintain the highest level of teaching excellence. We routinely achieve a reply rate of 60% or more to our requests to participants for feedback, helping us to ensure quality, consistency and relevance in our programme.

Table 49. Course feedback measures (compared with last year)
Booking and Administration 4.6 (4.6) 4.7 (4.7) 4.7 (4.7) 4.7 (4.7) 5.0
Exercises 2.9 (2.9) 2.9 (2.9) 3.0 (2.9) 2.9 (2.9) 3.0
Notes 4.3 (4.2) 4.3 (4.3) 4.3 (4.3) 4.3 (4.3) 5.0
Teaching 4.4 (4.3) 4.3 (4.4) 4.3 (4.4) 4.4 (4.4) 5.0
Teaching Facilities 4.6 (4.6) 4.6 (4.6) 4.6 (4.6) 4.6 (4.6) 5.0

H = Hilary term, M = Michaelmas term, T = Trinity term

3.15.2. Other Activities WISER

Workshops in Information Skills and Electronic Resources (WISER) are short sessions hosted at OUCS with the help of ITLP and owned and presented by specialist librarians from the Bodleian Libraries. These aim to equip postgraduate researchers and others with the skills to make effective use of electronic and other library resources. These sessions are increasingly popular with over 1100 bookings this year (an increase of over 10%). make:

make: is a series of lunchtime sessions where members of the University are invited to showcase their creative use of technology in teaching and learning. This year we hosted 18 sessions, with an additional 3 from other academic institutions. Topics included the creation of videos and podcasts, using databases in Humanities research, including mobile devices in teaching undergraduates and websites for outreach. Skills Toolkit
Skills workshop
Figure 31. Students on the skills toolkit workshop

The Research Skills Toolkit project is a collaboration between the Bodleian Libraries and the IT Learning Programme at OUCS. It offers postgraduate and post-doc researchers a range of transferable IT and Library Information skills and tools, that will support their research while at Oxford and in their future careers.

This year we ran 16 workshops: some tailored for each of the Medical Science, Social Science and MPLS Divisions, and some for departments in Humanities. The emphasis is on providing researchers with a hands-on experience of a wide range of different tools.

The Skills Toolkit is now a brand that departments recognise, and that academics can confidently recommend to their research students. In the feedback survey (55% replied), students were overwhelmingly positive about the event, its efficient use of their time and its value to their research (93%).

The Skills Toolkit website (www.skillstoolkit.ox.ac.uk) provides a substantial supporting resource with links to 'how-to' videos, taught courses and online information. It has proved popular with students - over 1200 distinct individuals have visited the site this year. An OUCS summer intern reviewed the usability of the site, and carried out user tests with volunteers from our target demographic. This has led to a set of recommendations which are informing the development of this and related websites. Breakfast at OUCS

In the fourth week of each term, we invite new staff for a short introduction to the services offered to the University by OUCS. It is an opportunity to meet members of the ITLP teaching staff and others in OUCS, and to discuss the different ways that we can help use IT. Inductions

With the help of other OUCS staff, the ITLP team provide a series of short talks to interested departments and groups at the start of each academic year. These talks are primarily to postgraduate students, and some undergraduates, and focus on how best to make use of the IT services provided by OUCS. The programme of inductions has grown steadily over the years and now reaches about 3500 students. Advanced ECDL

All four modules (Databases, Spreadsheets, Word Processing, Presentations) of the Advanced European Computer Driving Licence certification are available at OUCS. Word processing and spreadsheets are the most popular with 80% of the total bookings. The pass rate across all modules is 65% Events

This year the team have supported a range of events including:

  • The LTG Beyond Books Conference
  • The Oxtalent Awards
  • The Opencast Matterhorn 2012 Unconference
  • The Engage workshop for the Great Writers Inspire project
  • Digital.Humanities@Oxford Summer School Thames Suite


Our Thames Suite of lecture rooms continues to offer high quality computer teaching facilities with technical support from the ICT and NSMS teams.

As well as our own programme, the Thames Suite has been used by other sections of OUCS (ITSS and Information Services) and played host to the annual Oxtalent awards and the Digital.Humanities@Oxford Summer School.

As well as our own programme, the Thames Suite has been hired by other sections of by the four academic divisions, ASUC and UAS, and some colleges.

  • Area Studies
  • Blackfriars
  • Bodleian Libraries
  • BSP
  • Careers
  • Continuing Education
  • Education
  • Humanities
  • Human Sciences
  • OII
  • Pathology
  • Primary Health Care
  • Safety Office
  • Statistics
  • Student Admin

It has also been used by external organisations including:

  • Geographical Association
  • JISC
  • Oxford University Press
  • UK Serials Group

This year we joined Conference Oxford to market the Thames Suite facilities. Apple Authorised Training Centre for Education (AATCe)


Our Apple Teaching room has continued to be very popular, offering a wide variety of digital media courses. Nexus and SharePoint

The ITLP have supported Nexus and SharePoint services by developing and offering the following sessions as part of its programme.

  • Byte-size and demonstration sessions providing overviews of Nexus and SharePoint
  • Focussed courses showing how to set up meetings, manage calendars and mailing lists using Nexus
  • Focussed sessions showing how to manage SharePoint sites
  • One-to-one help at our weekly Computer8 sessions

In addition to our open schedule, ITLP also started a one year SharePoint Best Practices project to work closely with the Social Sciences Division and Council Secretariat. The project aims to provide a SharePoint solution to both parties, tailored to their needs. The sites will be used as exemplars to the wider University to demonstrate how SharePoint can be used to help manage the storage and dissemination of information within a Division and committee structure. This should increase expert levels across the University and uptake of these business process opportunities. Digital Media User Group

The Digital Media User Group (DMUG) is in its second year and has continued to grow. The purpose of the group is to allow practitioners in digital media an opportunity to network and learn what is happening in this area across the University. It holds a meeting each term showcasing some of the digital media projects that Oxford can be proud of. Topics covered this year included online presence from an academic perspective, The Bodleian Treasures web site, working with the media and BBC commissioning of academic material.

3.16. Learning Technology Group Services


Learning Technology Group (LTG) Services provides the backbone to many LTG activities, offering advice on and expertise in the use of technology for learning and teaching to departments around the University. We have particular expertise in open education and in audio-video multimedia and we manage the University’s media publishing services and Oxford on iTunes U. We also have expertise in learning design, systems interoperability, open education and gathering user requirements.

In 2011, major externally funded JISC projects managed by this team included work around releasing Open Educational Resources (OER) at Oxford relating to English Literature and ebooks – Great Writers Inspire, Speech to Text technology - SPINDLE and research on the impact of Open Education Resources.

3.16.1. Oxford on iTunesU and Podcasting Service

Summer 2012 marks nearly the fourth anniversary of the launch of Oxford’s iTunesU site, featuring audio and video podcasts from across the University. It has been a great success – 18 million downloads so far, and currently reaching a worldwide audience of 185 countries. Oxford on iTunesU has grown from a very small corpus to more than 4,000 hours of material online – ranging from quantum states to welfare states, from Philosophy for Beginners to Quantum Mechanics.

Among summer 2011’s most popular downloads were items entitled Managing People, Managing Teams, Philosophy of language and mind, the Nature of Arguments, How is depression treated, Shakespeare and the Stage and Jane Austen’s Manuscripts Explored.

Key facts since launch on October 8th 2008 (2011 figures in brackets)

  • 18 million downloads from iTunesU 
  • 4,200 (3,000) podcast items processed
  • 3,480 (2,700) academic speakers and contributors
Download activity for iTunesU service; USA and UK primary
                                visitor locations
Figure 32. Oxford on iTunesU – Download Activity by Location Summer 2012

Table 50. Oxford on iTunesU – Total Content in Collections Summer 2012
Content Total number Total running time Average collection size
Collections Items
Video 129 (37%) 846 (23%) 19 days, 18:44:23 (23%) 6.5
Audio 221 (63%) 2592 (71%) 64 days, 21:41:25 (77%) 11.7
Docs 228 (6%)
All 350 3666 84 days, 16:25:48 10.5

3.16.2. Podcasts.ox.ac.uk - Media Portal


At the start of November 2011 the OUCS Podcasting Service launched a new web portal to showcase the three thousand audio, video and eBook items freely available for download at that time . By the end of the reporting period the material had increased to around 4,200 items.

Shows home page of podcast site
Figure 33. Podcasting media portal launched in November 2011

Replacing the previous directory, the improved site presents a rich set of pages displaying podcast series and items. At a glance visitors can see the most recent items added to the site and the most popular. The new portal enables material to be found, grouped and reviewed in a new myriad of ways, including searching by media type, speaker, keyword or department. Each item has its own unique linkable URL, making it easy to link to resources from reading lists, in emails or share via social media channels.

The site is enriched with advanced features to improve the discovery of lectures and talks from across all University divisions. Students can now effortlessly create a library of lectures to be played online in the browser or via a media player such as an iPod or iPad.

Series highlights at launch included:

Alumni Weekend:
A series of 80 videos from Oxford experts, this year concentrating on the great environmental and scientific challenges of the 21st century
The New Psychology of Depression:
Dr Danny Penman and Professor Mark Williams discuss medical approaches to dealing with stress, anxiety and depression
The Elements of Drawing:
Stephen Farthing R.A. presents eight practical drawing classes using John Ruskin’s teaching collections
Pitt Rivers Museum:
A series of audio podcasts from the Pitt Rivers Museum, which houses archaeological and ethnographic objects from all parts of the world.
Centre on Migration, Policy and Society:
a series on migration and societal change
Approaching Shakespeare:
A continuing lecture series with each talk tackling a specific play

Material is constantly added to the site from departments across the University through the podcasting workflow, all material is surfaced in parallel with the Oxford on iTunes service and the m.ox.ac.uk portal. A special area surfaces material that can be reused openly in schools and education under a Creative Commons license http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/open.

The web site compliments the Oxford on iTunes U service for those who do not wish to use iTunes software and is designed to rank high in Google searches.

Key features include:

  • Material can be searched by department / college / speaker
  • Keyword search for all Oxford material
  • All Creative Commons material is available at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/open
  • Short profiles of all departments and selected academic staff

3.17. Software Licensing


The Software licensing team consists of a manager at 25% FTE and an administrator at 66% FTE. OUCS administers a large number of software agreements for commonly requested software packages in use around the collegiate University. The University is thus able to make considerable savings against the individual purchase cost. A large proportion of centrally-licensed software is now hosted on the OUCS downloads site so IT Support Staff across the University can access it easily and provide it for their users as an alternative to purchasing media from the online shop.

A Microsoft Campus agreement enables us to rent the most popular Microsoft products, eg Windows upgrades and Office Professional (both for Windows and Mac). Work-at-home rights for staff are also included in this agreement. This year the cost for the Microsoft Campus rental was around £356,033.

A Microsoft Select agreement, operated via the online shop, allows for the purchase of other Microsoft products including servers and non-campus Client Access Licences. An Adobe agreement, again operated via the online shop, allows for the purchase of the most popular Adobe products at educational prices.

The budget for site-licensed software used throughout the University currently stands at just over £101,295. Products include SPSS, EndNote, Exceed, MapInfo and Sophos. The following licences were added during the reporting period. It is pleasing to note that the uptake of the newest product on the list, nVivo, has continued to rise.

Table 51. Licences added during the reporting year
Altiris 2 -
Correl 370 -
EndNote 724 -
Exceed 149 4
Mapinfo 29 28
Matlab no info 1295
Novell 5 -
nVivo 97 171
PCounter 5 -
Scientific Word 122 -
Sophos No info 4148
SPSS 345 760

OUCS also administers various software contracts on behalf of groups of departments to assist in gaining more favourable pricing; this year software to the value of £59,550 was purchased and subsequently paid for by contributing departments and this represented a significant saving compared to the if departments purchasing software separately.

3.18. OUCS Data Centre Operations

The Data Centre Operations Team manages the day to day running of the Data Centre located at 13 Banbury Road. The team monitors power distribution, temperature, humidity and all other environmental factors, as well as advising groups using the Centre on positioning of equipment and services. A feasibility study was carried out earlier in 2011 to look at the possibility of refurbishing the live data centre. This study concluded that refurbishment of the live data centre would be very difficult in view of the fact that there are 20 years’ worth of cables in the floor plenum. The Data Centre rebuild is currently in abeyance as the final location has yet to be decided. Two potential sites at 13 Banbury Road and the Oxford Science Park at Begbroke are being considered.

Two of the Isovel air conditioners in the networking section of the data centre have been decommissioned and are to be salvaged and used for spares for the remaining four Isovel units. Two GEA Denco downflow units have been installed, in a project which took place during August 2012, to take the place of the decommissioned Isovel units and an additional floor plenum has been constructed to enable the networking area to run with downflow units. The remainder of the data centre space uses the four Isovel upflow units. Estates Services have provided the Operations Section with a number of spares for the Isovel units onsite so in the event of a critical failure we have a number of the most important spare parts onsite and ready.

3.18.1. Printing Services


The Operations poster printing service continues to be popular. 850 A0 posters have been printed so far in 2012. The older Epson 7600 has been removed as the lease arrangement ended and returned to Repro Repairs. The Epson 9800 continues to provide a very reliable service. Several fabric materials are to be introduced for use during 2012/13 to allow posters to be printed on this fabric and folded for packing with luggage.

3.19. The Shared Data Centre Service


Shared Infrastructure Services provide two services to the University on a cost-recovery basis. The first of these is the University Shared Data Centre (USDC) - a state-of-the-art, secure and resilient environment in which computing equipment from across the University can be housed. The USDC opened on 1 August 2011 with 24 racks of space available for use by the collegiate university. Over its first year of operation just under 50% of these initial racks have been allocated and are in use for equipment directly linked to research groups, colleges and departments as well as equipment providing core IT services to the entire University. A further set of racks are now also being provisioned, doubling the initial capacity.

The second service offered by Shared Infrastructure Services is the Private Cloud. This provides a self-service environment to provision virtual machines, upon which services can be run. The Private Cloud became available slightly later than the USDC as one half of the equipment which underpins the service is located in the USDC. As with the USDC, the Private Cloud hosts virtual machines for research groups, departments, colleges and central services.

Together, the USDC and Private Cloud provide a secure and reliable foundation from which services and systems, virtual or physical, from across the collegiate university can be run.

3.20. Network Systems Management Services


During the past year the NSMS team have successfully completed several projects that have enhanced or augmented the IT services that the collegiate University relies upon.

NSMS has recognised that the previous structure of the team no longer suited the wide range of activities undertaken. To address this, over the past twelve months, NSMS has restructured introducing a dedicated first line support team. Starting with two full time staff this has quickly grown to three permanent full time staff and a number of contract staff, bringing a more responsive service to our clients. NSMS ended the financial year with 18.5 members of staff and over £850k turnover.

In addition to the ongoing support provided to the group's existing clients, new projects that NSMS had some role in successfully undertaking last year are listed below:

  • Delivered the complex and advanced requirements of the Blavatnik School of Government, providing a complete end-to-end IT solution with on-site support for staff and students using Windows PCs, Apple Macs and iPads.
  • Developed a vCloud Disaster recovery solution with VMware for the University Private Cloud, leading to NSMS staff presenting on the subject at VMworld San Francisco
  • Migrated existing VM4Rent customers to the University cloud and initiated the migration of managed service customers.
  • Significant re-engineering and deployment of the Managed Mac Platform (MMP), exceeding the target of 100 macs in the first twelve months connected to this ground breaking management solution for OS X systems.
  • Further expansion of the ResNet (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ResNet) for Graduate Accommodation.
  • Delivery of the virtual infrastructure for the Students Systems Replacement Program and X5 projects.

3.21. WebEx


Service: http://ox.webex.com

WebEx is a web conferencing service that gives participants the tools to seamlessly collaborate and share information. With WebEx, you can share presentations, applications and your entire desktop with colleagues from around the world.

WebEx initially ran as a trial until July 2009 and then moved to be a cost-recovered service. There are currently over 40 WebEx accounts in operation. Promotion is on-going to attract more users to the service and to educate about how to use it.

Courses have been run along with ITLP which have been well subscribed, and it is anticipated that these will continue.

Meetings have followed this pattern:

shows number of meetings per month
Figure 34. Number of WebEx meetings per month
Figure 35. Duration of WebEx meetings per month

Attendees have increased as follows:

Chart of number of people using service per month: peak November
Figure 36. Total number of WebEx attendees per month

The split between paid minutes and VoIP minutes is as below:

proportion of paid vs VoIP calls
Figure 37. Minutes paid for per month as against free VoIP minutes

3.22. IT Support Staff Services (ITS3)


ITS3 organised 43 events during the year, including 19 courses, 21 meetings and 3 social events. ITS3 was particularly pleased to be able to host a talk about a free digital society given by the world-famous Richard Stallman. The sessions given represent 2041 person-hours of courses and 2008 person-hours of meeting, not including the July Conference or the December Exhibition. 36 of the 43 events delivered were free of charge to attendees and those that were chargeable averaged £21.78 per hour.

ITS3 has continued to be the principal channel of emergency communication between OUCS and ITSS. ITS3 holds 198 alternative email addresses for ITSS and 258 mobile numbers that it can use to send emergency SMS messages.

The ITS3 twitter account for use in emergencies and for tweeting information about meetings etc. now has 128 followers. The ITSS Wiki has been used at a comparable level to the previous year and has found extensive use in sharing technical information among IT Staff including how to activate software, information about network outages and information on obtaining SSL certificates.

ITS3 has joined many recruitment panels across the collegiate University during the reporting period and has provided advice in recruiting, grading and staff management.

ITS3 continues to act as a broker for the Janet SSL server certificate service in conjunction with Comodo and this service remains at a high level of use. The first wildcard certificate has been issued to a division and security was increased from 30 May 2012 by the addition of a challenge email system to verify control of the domain for which the certificate was being requested.

ITS3 continues to handle copyright infringement notices on behalf of the University with OxCERT and remains extremely grateful for the help provided by ITSS in dealing these promptly thus greatly reducing the risk to the University of litigation. 177 incidents were dealt with during the reporting period, representing a pleasing decrease of nearly 25% on the previous year.

The largest events organised during the year were the IT Suppliers’ Exhibition in December 2011 and the 2012 ICT Forum conference in July. The conference was again held at The Kassam Football Stadium. The summer conference attracted around 350 attendees and included a conference dinner for the first time this year. Guests were greatly entertained by Colin Dexter’s after dinner speech. Total expenditure was £39.5k, with income of £46.5k leaving a healthy £7k to fund ICT Forum activities throughout the next reporting period.

Social events have continued to be an important part of ITSS life in Oxford. Many of these are arranged by ITSS outside of OUCS. They include regular lunchtime and evening gatherings and are invaluable in terms of fostering skill and knowledge-sharing among ITSS. The last summer BBQ in September 2011 was well-attended as was the Christmas dinner at Christ Church in December 2011.

3.23. Marketing


This year was a steady year for marketing initially with OUCS News, leaflets, posters, web pages, Blueprint adverts, newsfeeds and banners continuing to be important publicity tools within OUCS, at specific events and around the wider University. The OUCS Facebook page and Twitter feed continued to be fed from RSS feeds and saw their readership rise still further.

The Welcome to IT website underwent another major update and refinement to focus the information more clearly and make items easier to find.

For the second year, all results from the annual Freshers Survey were analysed by division and split into UG and PG student categories so we now have trend data to a finer level. This is proving useful to both OUCS and the wider University. The Freshers Survey has been a feature of Freshers Fair for seven years and provides an excellent resource to guide the aims and aspirations of the department.

During the later part of the year, Marketing has been heavily involved with the ICCP, particularly on the Communications, and Branding and Identity workstreams. Work has been done on new logos, stationery designs, web sites and a communications strategy.

3.24. Human Resources and Administration

OUCS carried out 31 recruitment exercises during the period which has resulted in 21 new members of staff (some recruitment campaigns were hard to fill and so were re-advertised of which five are still on-going and five remain unfilled). It has proved hard to find staff with the relevant skills and experience to fill some of the more technical posts this year. We also said goodbye to 11 members of staff.

We had another successful internship programme which involved an Oxford student working alongside a service or project at OUCS for a maximum period of 8 weeks over the summer vacation. We advertised seven internships and managed to recruit five for the following projects.

Internships completed:

  • Analysis of Course feedback
  • Linux Systems Development and Administration
  • Speech to text
  • LTG Case Study Strategy
  • Intrographics and reporting Project Developer

No suitable candidate available:

  • Drupal Workflow project developer
  • Web Learn reading lists

Response from managers and students was that it was a positive and enjoyable exercise.

During the latter part of the year with the impending merge of the three IT departments, a number of staff briefings were held and HR ensured they were present at each one.

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