Shared Infrastructure Services (SIS) is a collection of interlinked services designed to offer state-of-the-art infrastructure to underpin IT service delivery across the University. The SIS are designed to be layered to provide services from basic physical hosting of equipment through to full virtual data centre and hybrid cloud computing facilities.

In the most complete form, Shared Infrastructure Services provide a dynamic infrastructure, which offers the opportunity to separate the physical aspects of service deployment from the service build. This allows the consolidation of workloads, with the associated cost and efficiency gains; the strategic management of hardware capacity, removing the multiplicative over-provisioning of equipment; the provisioning of multi-site resilient services, by designing in redundancy from the start; and enables rapid service deployment via self-service interfaces, removing the need to wait for equipment to be delivered before services can be constructed.

Shared Infrastructure Services:
  • Provides a collection of shared infrastructure, from physical to virtual, to deliver a foundation for IT services from across the collegiate university.
  • Offers the benefits of centralized infrastructure whilst recognizing that subsidiarity is a core principle of the University and IT services are delivered in a federated manner.
  • Recognizes that for some services it may be more cost-effective to utilize resources not owned, but still managed, by the University.
This enables:
  • IT service providers from across the University to create and maintain IT services in a flexible, agile and highly available manner.
  • IT services to continue to be delivered at the most appropriate location within the organization.
  • The reduction of costs by the simplified comparison of the true total cost of ownership for IT services and infrastructure, and the optimization of those service delivery costs.

Shared Infrastructure services are managed by Oxford University Computing Services (OUCS). We operate, develop and support the University’s primary computing infrastructure and services. We are committed to providing high-quality and cost-effective IT services that meet the needs of the University and its members. We seek to foster and support excellence, innovation, best practise and value for money in the use of IT across the University.

As all the services are hosted and supplied by the University, concerns over the physical location, accessability and security of data can be more easily addressed than with external services.


Advantages

Shared infrastructure offers a number of benefits over physical infrastructure in diverse server rooms across the University. These include:
  • Resilience - The USDC and the private cloud offer levels of resilience which are not cost effective to implement in small scenarios despite being extremely desirable. Examples of this include independent power feeds from independent transformers, dual UPS systems and N+1 environmental units.
  • Security - The USDC implements a number of technologies to ensure the physical security of equipment including biometric systems, 360 degree CCTV and an anti-tailgating entrance portal, all with full access audit trails.
  • Agility - Both the private cloud and the USDC represent infrastructure available for use now. There is no waiting to specify and procure equipment; a new server can be provisioned in minutes rather than waiting days for it to be delivered.
  • Green - The USDC and private cloud make use of innovative technologies to deliver services whilst reducing energy consumption by up to 40% compared to a standard small server room (small server room PUE approx. 2.5 compared to USDC PUE of approx. 1.5).
  • Self Service - Online interfaces allow full access to data centre and private cloud resources as if they were sat on the desk.
  • Cost Saving - Economies of scale both in the construction of and the on-going running of the services allow for real cost savings as the utilisation of the services rises.


Principles

To ensure a robust and consistent service, the services are designed and built around three core principles:
  • Availability - Each layer of infrastructure should be designed to ensure availability of the resources served by that layer. Where possible, the resilience through replication model should be followed to provide highly available services in the event of component failure by eliminating single points of failure.
  • Isolation - Shared Infrastructure Services are by their very design multi-tenant. The actions of one tenant should never affect the services offered to, and by, any other tenant.
  • Management - A tenant of the data centre, and user of the infrastructure services, should be able to perform any management operation on their equipment (including virtual equipment) that they would be able to perform if the equipment was physically located elsewhere, so long as those actions would not bring them into conflict with the other two core principles.


Shared Responsibility

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Being part of the University means we implicitly understand the nature of IT and IT service delivery in the University environment. All the services are constructed with this in mind and SIS take a shared responsibility approach to service provision. SIS provide the underlying infrastructure, but the IT services built upon it are owned and managed independently. This allows a “Shared Infrastructure, Local Autonomy” approach to IT services. An approach that offers a great fit for one of the University’s core principles – subsidiarity.