The next meeting of the Oxford University Colleges’ ICT
Committee will be held on Tuesday 29th April 2008 at 14.15 hours at
The Cherwell Lecture Room, OUCS,
A G E N D A
1. Apologies for absence
2. Minutes of the meeting held on 22nd January 2008
3. Matters Arising
4. University Alumni Relations Database (Stewart Watson)
5. Election of Vice-Chair (Alex Wong)
9. Report from other committees and groups
9.1 IT Support Staff Group – No further minutes since the last CICTC meeting
9.2 Software Licensing Group Report
11. Items raised by representatives
12. Any Other Business
13. Date of Next Meeting: Tuesday 21st October 2008 at 2.15pm
Items (1)-(4) are for report from the first meeting of the new PRAC ICT Sub-Committee held on the 18th February 2008.
1) The website for the PRAC ICT Sub-Committee is now active and available at http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/pict/ .
2) It was reported that the Groupware Panel has now identified user requirements on which there is a broad consensus and that it is intended to have an operational solution for early adopters of the Groupware by October 2008. The next phase of the project will identify technical requirements and select Groupware solution by means of a Selection Panel overseen by a Project Board.
3) For the proposed Core User Directory, the objective is to deliver a University-wide identity management system which provides authentication and authorisation and which enables interoperability with national and international infrastructure. In liaison with the Groupware project, a ‘core’ or ‘enterprise’ directory will be created to underpin all other systems. There will be three phases to the project – requirement analysis, architecture design, and implementation. Dedicated staff within BSP and OUCS have been identified to lead the project forward.
4) The Central Machine Room project was requested by the internal auditors looking at ICT provision within the University, but it is also seen as the most cost-efficient way of delivering services across the University since the OUCS machine room is overloaded and in critical need of refurbishment. Most Russell Group universities are currently undertaking comparable projects. A consultants' report recommended an extremely high-specification solution based at Osney at a cost of £14 million; by comparison, a facility of similar size has recently been built at Begbroke for £1.5 million. The PRAC ICT Sub-Committee Capital Planning Group has therefore proposed an alternative solution which provides comparable levels of resilience by using two sites (Begbroke and OUCS) at an estimated cost of £3.2 million. The Estates Directorate has since suggested that the project should be taken over as an OUED project, bringing forward the second network connection for the whole of Begbroke, and this has now been agreed as the way to proceed.
5) The PRAC ICT Sub-Committee Capital Planning Group brought forward four prioritised proposals for funding as part of the ICT Capital Plan, based on a reassessment of priorities identified in 2005 by the ICT Strategy Steering Group: i) Groupware, ii) wireless, iii) network resilience, and iv) the Central Machine Room (plus the OUCS machine room refurbishment). The required business cases for these four projects would be appraised by the Capital Steering Group before going to PRAC for approval in March. Recent discussions with the divisions have identified Groupware as the top priority at the divisional level, whereas for individuals the top priority is wireless.
This report sets OUCS’s objectives for 2008-2013 in the context of the University’s Corporate Plan. We present a review of our last five-year plan, then a discussion of the new governance structure for ICT formed in 2007. We then look at each section of the Corporate Plan and align our objectives to those presented there. Certain key objectives do stand out, however. Many of which depend on existing funding proposals under the emerging ICT Capital envelope.
2) Selection and roll-out of a University-wide Groupware solution providing users with a group of applications to assist in collaboration, combining email, calendaring, scheduling, etc.
3) Roll-out of a University-wide wireless service to provide seamless wireless access in key public areas across the University.
4) Refurbishment of the OUCS machine room to remove existing single points of failure. Planning for a second machine room to provide resilience for key OUCS services and other services across the University.
5) Increasing the resilience of the network.
6) Refurbishment of existing facilities for users notably expansion of OUCS’s training facilities.
7) Investigation of power reduction and reducing the carbon footprint of IT.
8) Development of Web 2.0 services – notably Podcasting and iTunesU.
The latest OUCS Annual Report is available. It covers all OUCS services, projects, activities and more, showing how they have performed, and the demand for each of the services.
The Low Carbon ICT project is working to deliver technologies that will help the University reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that result from its ICT infrastructure. The Low Carbon ICT project team is a collaboration between the Computing Services (OUCS), e-Research Centre (OeRC) and the Centre for the Environment (OUCE).
Their conference on 19th March was a great
success and was oversubscribed. The organisers report excellent feedback. The slides and audio
from the presenters are available on the web site. The project is now busy
undertaking its core objectives, namely to develop a service that will allow
desktop computer power management across the university.
The 2008 OxTalent IT in Teaching and Learning Awards competition is open to all University staff and students and there is £400 to be won. The nomination deadline is 22nd May 2008 and this years 'Show and Tell' event will take place at 12:30pm in OUCS on Thursday 12th June 2008.
The latest edition of Software news can
be seen at:
New software versoins are available for Visual Studio Pro 2008, Mapinfo 9.0, Mac Office 2008, CorelDraw Graphics Suite X4, JRB Utilities v14, Office Multilanguage Pack 2007, Vista Business with SP1, System Center Configuration Manager Server 2007, Search Server 2008, Photoshop Elements for Mac. Windows Server 2008 will be available soon.
A new bridging firewall was installed in February serving the Herald POP, IMAP and Webmail cluster. This work started at 7am and was completed with minimal disruption to service. Network connectivity was restored by 7.02am.
The works scheduled for the weekend were completed on time but damage had been caused to the electrical circuits in the Houses (OUCS staff offices) due to an error by the contracted electricians. The extensions – the computer room, Help Centre, lecture rooms etc. - were unaffected although the building was closed for a short time as cables were routed across the Reception area. Around 22 PC base units, 10 monitors, a number of printers and 6 Macs were repaired by OUCS and the ICT Support team in two days. Other printers were sent, under the breakdown service agreement, to Equinox.
On Tuesday 29th April between 07:30 and 08:00 we will be performing system upgrades on the OWL Visitor wireless network service. We expect service to be affected for no more than 20 minutes between 07:30 and 08:00, but please allow until 08:30 for disruption, should we encounter any unforeseen issues.
There will be two changes which users may notice, but which will not affect their service: The automatic web-redirect login page is changing URL from: https://visitor-network.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ to: https://visitor-network.ox.ac.uk/ Note: as users of the service never have to type this address in, we do not expect any issues with this change.
The upgrades will also provide new dual (active/active) DNS, DHCP and web log-in servers, and dual (active/passive) firewalls for the service. If you have any questions, please contact <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
Many of you will be aware of the Academic
Computing Development Team (ACDT) - a core part of OUCS's Learning Technologies
Group. The ACDT was set up 10 years ago, and over that period of time has worked
on over 40 projects with academics from across the disciplines at
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all the academic staff members who worked with the ACDT over the years and in delivering a series of important elearning initiatives that took forward the use of IT in teaching and research at
The ICT Support Team has entered into a collaboration with BSP and NSMS to deliver an enterprise class server infrastructure. NSMS will build a VMware server environment and a Left Hand Networks storage area network (SAN) at two distinct sites with the assistance of a consultant from Aenigma Solutions. These systems will provide a platform for BSP and the ICTST to deliver more reliable and more responsive services to their customers.
As a result of a successful bid at the end of last year, the HFS was able to purchase enhanced disk storage in Jan 2008. This has, after considerable testing, now been brought fully into service with the minimum of disruption.
These disk systems are considerably faster than those they replace -allowing faster movement of the previous day's backups from disk to three tape copies. As a result, we can now increase the daily backup limits as below:
Service Previously Now
Desktop Backups 50GB / day 100GB / day
Server Backups 100GB / day 200GB / day
Large-Server Backups 200GB / day 300GB / day
These daily limits are now over twice the average size of a desktop or server, as seen by the HFS. This increase should also allow the initial backup of larger machines to complete sooner.
Why we have a Daily Limit
The HFS service applies these daily backup limits as a way of ensuring fair use to the 5000 registered accounts. This prevents one machine flooding the HFS with data to the detriment of the service offered to others.
On occasion, an HFS client may still exceed the daily backup limit, and it will be locked. When this occurs please review our FAQ for possible reasons:
and then contact us to have the account unlocked. Please note, during the first 14 days after an account is registered it will be automatically unlocked.
Unnecessary account locks can be avoided by refraining from moving or renaming large filesystems/partitions; renaming top-level directories; or changing permissions/ACLs across a large number of files.
There is now an OUCS-packaged TSM client for OSX Leopard available. The client is configured to skip any 'Time Machine' backups: The client for OSX 10.4 (Tiger) remains available - please try to ensure your users select the appropriate client for their version of OSX.
The WebLearn team continues to make enhancements to its central service, launching the Winter release on the 8th January. The main new feature is the Notes tool, which provides a quick and easy means of jotting ideas, notes etc anywhere in WebLearn: it appears as an extra link in the navigation bar for those who have MyWebLearn accounts (for those who don't it takes only a few seconds to sign up!) Many of the changes are refinements designed to aid navigation and creation of resources: for example, tooltips are now provided for all links and menus in the navigation bar; when creating interactive tools, there is less typing as more defaults are provided.
Want to access your email while on the move? If you answer 'yes' to this question, you will want to see our new guides for accessing Herald from your mobile.
OUCS has been running the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL) qualification for nearly 10 years. During this time, hundreds of students and staff have completed the course and gained an internationally recognised qualification. However, over the last 3 years, numbers have declined and ECDL at OUCS is being phased out. There is still time to study for ECDL before the May 2009 deadline.
FroDo, the OUCS project to provide secure, reliable, easily managed, and consistent network services right to the "front door" (FroDo) of every University building, has been completed. This been a huge undertaking involving the installation of standard hardware for the far side of the optical connection in 180 locations, to provide multiple network services.
Some maintenance work was recently carried out on the Oracle Financials system resulting in some users being unable to access the system. This can be resolved by replacing a file on machines of users without access to the system. For the updated files and instructions see http://www.admin.ox.ac.uk/finance/oxonly/financials/technical/fileupdate.shtml
The hardware providing the GNU/Linux shell service, linux.ox.ac.uk, was replaced in March.
On behalf of the Weblearn team at OUCS:
This message is to keep you informed of developments to the WebLearn VLE service. (Please circulate to all who you think would be interested so that they are all fully informed.)
You may have heard that the service will soon undergo a major overhaul: the underlying framework which supports the WebLearn service is to be changed from the Bodington VLE to a Collaborative Learning Environment called
Both Bodington and
The production service will begin a year later and will initially comprise both systems running in parallel: this is to give users the options of migrating their courses, projects or other materials over a reasonable period of time. After two years, the dual service will cease. It will no longer be possible to create new content in the current WebLearn service; a year later we propose that the Bodington-based service be switched off.
The timeline is as follows:
Jun 2008: Year long pilot service commences (based on Sakai 2.5)
Jun 2009: Dual production service starts (based on Sakai 2.6 & Bodington)
Jun 2011: Bodington-based service deprecated (read only)
Jul 2012: Bodington-based service turned off (proposed)
OUCS will offer full support and training for the new service from June 2009 onwards, as well as providing tools to help with migrating content to the new system. We hope that staff and students will see this move as an opportunity to improve and rationalise material rather than moving all existing material wholesale.
We recognise that local IT support staff are critical to any innovation and will also be aiming to train them during the pilot phase.
For more information please see: http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/vle/; to get involved in the pilot programme please contact email@example.com
There's a new, updated Oxitems leaflet available at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/publicity/leaflets-guides/oxitems.pdf
Following the full LMS acceptance testing which took place earlier this year, discussions about the future of our library management systems continue. While these discussions take place library staff are working to improve the data and set-up of our Geac Advance system. Internal teams are working to improve Geac Advance through the introduction of new services such as EDI, improved management reporting and data clean-up efforts. Consultation is taking place with Infor (formerly Geac) and other organisations using Advance to inform these efforts.
Two groups have also been convened to investigate resource discovery solutions in an effort to improve services for our readers. Federated search technology will replace the OxLIP service and improve access to our e-journals (see next item) and new technology is being explored to provide a single search and discovery experience across multiple collections such as the OLIS OPAC, Oxford Research Archive (ORA) and other digitised materials. If you have any questions about the library management system or the resource discovery projects please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
OULS has just signed a contract with Ex Libris to implement MetaLib, a
federated search system that will not only offer a new A-Z list of all
e-resources currently covered by OxLIP, but will also improve discovery of
individual e-resources and offer simultaneous searches in selected databases.
MetaLib will replicate OxLIP but with much more powerful find and search
options. MetaLib will integrate seamlessly with SFX, the OpenURL system we now
use to list and manage our e-journals (see:
Die-hard fans of OxLIP will be delighted to learn that we will maintain OxLIP for the rest of 2008 while staff and readers become familiar with the new improved service. Any work being undertaken on OxLIP, such as subject clustering and descriptions, will be useful as we move to MetaLib. Subject consultants will be invited to a special presentation of MetaLib at the end of May. They will have the opportunity to revise their subject pages prior to go-live or during long vacation.
Please note that links to examples in the ORA development interface may have transferred to the production ORA interface by the time this item is published. We are hoping to go live with the new interface some time w/b 14th April 2008.
Since the last report ORA has a more flexible and robust system. It is still based on Fedora software (see Fedora Commons at http://www.fedora-commons.org/) although we have upgraded to Fedora 3.0 which offers simplified use, coupled with content model architecture and other benefits. What we now have is the basis for creating a repository where web services can be easily added on to the repository as required. Such services might be provided and maintained by OULS, or alternatively groups around the University can take responsibility for services and develop them as they need locally using the fundamental data store underneath (eg adding its own customised local metadata and search). One simple example of how ORA is being used is that of the Classics Faculty which has embedded the ORA search in their website and which automatically searches items tagged as Classics (click on ‘Classics Faculty Search at http://www.classics.ox.ac.uk/research/).
The new ORA interface includes faceted search and browse and RDF relationships. See for example http://archive.sers.ox.ac.uk:5000/objects/uuid:e079efe7-94f7-4f21-b233-a7d3e0ce41fb. This example also shows an example of a ‘ping-back’ where a citation (currently using a blog or CMS) is given in the ‘Linked/Cited by’ entry. There is an example of a project record where the project logo has been added at http://archive.sers.ox.ac.uk:5000/objects/ora%3Ayounglives. Simple logos or banners can be added to any collection page (eg College collection) on request. Conferences clearly list the associated papers (see http://archive.sers.ox.ac.uk:5000/objects/uuid:5f950edc-892c-4441-8306-45f7b0c87f6a) and there are two different examples of how ORA will present books/images (see http://archive.sers.ox.ac.uk:5000/objects/uuid%3A33de1615-0b12-434f-8836-7f7fa7b8b576 and http://archive.sers.ox.ac.uk:5000/objects/uuid%3Acf31eb38-06b3-426f-843c-32108c18bf5d). Other features of the new ORA are open search (making ORA the target for searches in web browsers such as Firefox) and use of UUIDs (Universal Unique Identifiers) for digital objects (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UUID). UUIDs should offer benefits of being able to find ORA items on the web in the far future but also enabling users to find where the ORA has been referenced on the web.
The new de facto protocol for digital object exchange, OAI-ORE (See http://www.openarchives.org/ore/documents/EUKickoffPressrelease.pdf) has already been implemented in ORA: in
With the likelihood that ORA will be used to support future national research assessment activities (REF), we would encourage academic and administrative staff to consider using ORA as soon as possible so that the corpus of research output produced over the coming years can be built up over time, rather than in a panic as we head towards the deadline. Additionally, such outputs can be used by authors and researchers to disseminate their work more widely, by teachers and students for research-led teaching, by administrators for management of research materials. ORA also supports cross-disciplinary research activities.
ORA seminar held in January 2008 was a great success and provided a forum for
current and potential users of ORA at Oxford to help us prioritise proposed
developments as well as offer suggestions for additional services and features
in order to meet their needs. The first of two additional seminars was held on
8th April: ORA priorities for MPLS, Social Sciences and Humanities.
Attendance was good and the speakers gave wide-ranging multi-disciplinary views
of the uses, benefits and challenges associated with ORA. There is a third
seminar planned for the summer: ORA priorities for Medical Sciences: Wednesday
25th June, 2.00 – 5.00, to be held at the Wellcome Trust Centre for
contact Sally Rumsey (email@example.com) to reserve a place. The
seminars are aimed at any members of
April has seen the public release of the first outputs of our JISC-funded mass digitization project "Electronic Ephemera -- Selections from the John Johnson Collection". Developed and hosted by our commercial project partners, ProQuest, the site is open to the entire UK HE and FE community at http://johnjohnson.chadwyck.co.uk/home.do. This initial launch contains high-quality digital images of more than 6,300 items, and in excess of 14,000 extremely detailed catalogue records. Work is well on-track to meeting the target of delivering in excess of 65,000 items and associated records by the first quarter of 2009.
Since the last report, another important collection of visual materials has
been mounted using the Luna software:
The Conservative Party Archive Poster Collection (http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwmss/cpa/poster-home.html). Funded with the generous support of the
Conservative Party Archive Trustees, the poster collection held as part of the
Conservative Party Archive at the Bodleian Library, has been digitised and is
now freely available for download via the web. The main collection dates back
to the Conservatives' attack on Lloyd George's People's Budget and support for
the Tariff Reform League in 1909, but includes earlier posters back to 1886.
The collection is a rich and stimulating visual resource for the study of the
main issues affecting the politics of the 20th and early 21st centuries, and is
continually being added to with regular transfers from Conservative Campaign
Headquarters. Recent images used to highlight Gordon Brown's refusal to hold a
referendum on the EU Treaty in 2007, and in support of Boris Johnson's
In March, we learned that our proposal to create the Shakespeare Quartos
Archive had been awarded almost £60,000 by the JISC. This is one of five
transatlantic digitization collaborations between British and American
institutions awarded the first JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization
Collaboration Grants. The other participating organizations include the Folger
Shakespeare Library, British Library, Edinburgh University Library, the
National Library of Scotland, the Shakespeare Institute at
We have also been invited to provide some of the core content for the
launch of the European Digital Library, now known as Europeana, scheduled for
November 2008 (see http://www.europeana.eu//). This work is part of a thematic network funded
under eContentPlus and aims to bring together the stakeholders (largely the
owners of digital content) and to create a prototype as proof of concept. There are currently 85 partners from across
The Software Licensing Group met on the 13th March 2008 and the following issues were covered:
1. The SAS licence will not be renewed when the current licence expires on 31st July 2008. The small number of users affected by this will be notified as soon as possible so that they can consider their options for the future.
2. The OUCS Licence Server is now up and running and is available for anyone to use if they have licensed software that they would like to share. Anybody with software suitable for this service should contact Richard Saxton at firstname.lastname@example.org .
3. The software webpages have been updated and the new list of Software Agreements together with details of where each one can be obtained and who can obtain these should prove a useful tool to everyone. If you have any feedback about the pages, please contact either Sarah Lawson or Richard Saxton.
4. Sophos is due for renewal and it was agreed that this will be renewed for a further 5 years.
5. The NAG licence has been renewed and those using the product will pay one year at a time for the 2-year licence.
6. Eduserv Chest is currently trying to secure site licensing for VMware. This is not available yet, but those considering use of the product may like to postpone the purchase of long licensing with the possibility that the site licence may be cheaper.