Title of Service: Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS)

Status of Document: This document presents the general responsibilities of OUCS in terms of the overall service it offers to Oxford University and its Colleges. Specific SLDs are also available for individual services run by the department. This document was prepared during the draft stage of the ICT Strategy.

1. Introduction

1.1 OUCS is the main IT provider for the University of Oxford. It is funded centrally, and is part of University Administration and Services (UAS). It is responsible for the key IT infrastructure and services that support academic computing (as distinct from business computing and library computing), but is also charged with developing these services and bringing in new services in keeping with the needs of the University.

1.2 The Mission Statement of OUCS is:-

  • to provide high-quality and cost-effective IT services that meet the needs of the University and its members;
  • to contribute to the University's wide range of IT training and relevant training resources;
  • to foster and support excellence, innovation, best practice, and value for money in the use of IT in teaching, learning, and research across the University;
  • to promote effective communication throughout the University IT community.

1.3 OUCS operates in the University's devolved IT structure. It liaises closely with the IT support staff in departments, faculties, colleges and other units, but does not, in many cases, provide IT support beyond the 'front door' of those units. Users' first port of call for assistance should be their local IT staff (department/faculty/college), and the funding of OUCS rests on the assumption that this is the case.

2. Summary of OUCS’s responsibilities (aka ‘host’)

OUCS’s main responsibilities fall under the following key areas and are overseen by the OUCS Management Committee:

2.1 Operating, developing, and supporting the University's primary computing infrastructure and services including facilities such as the network backbone and its external connections; central email (Nexus), web, news, and backup servers; and other core university-wide support services including security and anti-virus support.

2.2 Fostering the effective use of IT in all disciplines through the provision and development of training and courses, learning and teaching resources, and by such activities as negotiating advantageous arrangements for the supply and maintenance of hardware and software etc.

2.3 Supporting the work of, and collaborating closely with, IT Support Staff within the University through their associations and committees.

2.4 Developing centres of expertise in relevant areas relating to the application of IT.

2.5 Promoting and demonstrating good practice.

2.6 OUCS will do all the above by providing and supporting a range of core services. It will allow for flexibility by also offering a range of ‘paid-for’ services to divisions and departments, i.e. those not covered by the central grant.

2.7 Business continuity – development and maintenance of a business continuity plan for the IT infrastructure and services of the University, covering risk analyses.

2.8 Provide support for its core services during normal office hours (9.00-5.00, Mondays to Fridays). Endeavour to provide support for core services out of hours. Identify and advertise key ‘at risk’ times to users and support staff.

2.9 Monitoring of IT expenditure - OUCS will provide regular reports on its expenditure on IT to the University (through the OUCS Mgt Sc, and PICT), and projections of future expenditure. It will regularly monitor its accounts and maintain the department’s financial stability.

2.10 Five year planning process - OUCS will provide the client with a five-year plan for IT services, including a roadmap of future projects, priorities, and expenditure. This will be based on user needs and OUCS’s own monitoring of its services and developments in IT provision. This will be subject to ratification by the appropriate senior committees.

2.11 Change Management process - provide a set of standard methods and procedures for managing requests for changes to services. This process will ensure that changes can be evaluated, prioritised and where appropriate implemented quickly and with the lowest possible impact on service quality. This will improve responsiveness for change requests and allow better planning and use of resources within OUCS.

2.12 Reports on use of IT services by users and divisions. Once a year OUCS will summarise this information in its Annual Report.

2.13 A programme of user consultation via OUCS’s Client Relations Team to identify emerging requirements concerning existing or new services.

2.14 Implementation of procedures to ensure appropriate testing prior to service implementation.

2.15 Timely and regular dissemination of improvements to existing services.

2.16 Development and monitoring of existing SLDs.

2.17 Legal compliance – monitoring changes in legislation affected by or affecting IT, and developing (in collaboration with other offices within the University, e.g. the Proctors) policies and guidelines to assist compliancy.

2.18 Provide back-ups of all its core services, providing the ability to recover data in the event of a disaster.

Fault Reporting

2.19 Level 1 faults (incidents & problems) and standard changes which cover minor fixes or adjustments to individual services will be dealt with by the service team according to the agreed SLD.

2.20 Level 2 faults (major problems) and Requests for Change to a service (or a new service) which involve major disruption to University business will be dealt with by the User Services Team at OUCS initially and escalated to the Senior Managers at OUCS for approval. Resources will be allocated accordingly to remedy the situation as soon as possible.

2.21 Level 3 faults which require resources beyond OUCS facilities, and/or a major strategic decision will be dealt with by the ICTC committee structure to which the Director of OUCS reports.

3. Summary of client’s responsibilities

For the purpose of this document the ‘client’ is the University of Oxford and its Colleges. This embodies the users of OUCS, namely the academics, students, college-only staff, and administrators (permanent and contract). The client’s responsibilities concerning OUCS fall into the following main areas:

3.1 Provide local IT support to act as the first port of call for users to take problems to. This local support can then forward the issue to OUCS only if they are unable to deal with it, or if it relates directly to a service not provided locally (e.g. PC repair). It is expected that all units will be able to provide sufficient local support to deal with the everday needs of their users.

3.2 Provide a governance and management structure that provides OUCS with strategic direction for its services which reflects the needs of the academic divisions, colleges, and users of IT services across the University.

3.3 Provide OUCS with a clear line of reporting and a governance structure which allows recommendations made by OUCS for new IT services/expenditure to be considered alongside other IT expenditure across the whole collegiate University and alongside the other strategic needs of the University.

3.4 Provide OUCS with sufficient funding to maintain and develop its existing core services.

3.5 Provide OUCS with sufficient new funding for any additional core services required, or major developments to existing services not covered by current resources.

3.6 Provide OUCS with clear communication channels to disseminate information about its services to the academic community, and to receive feedback about how its services should develop based on the needs of the users. This will be through senior University committees, divisional/department/faculty/college IT committees, IT Staff and user group meetings.

3.7 Review OUCS and the services it offers on a regular basis.