3.1 Jeremy Worth attended his first meeting of PICT this term. He noted that it is an important committee, which appears to work quite well. While the meetings tend to be long, they tend to reflect the same views as other IT committees. No questions for the chair.
4.1 Steering group met this term and decided it would be nice to do a newsletter to complement all the email news-shots. The aim is to have a newsletter that the community contribute to, and whilst the first edition was penned by the steering group, they hope that it will take off and be taken up by the community at large with contributions on a wide range of topics. Articles don’t have to be technical, basically anything of possible interest to ITSS members. A Paper version was available for those at the meeting, though the normal means is electronic distribution.
5.3 It’s not a group for tea, knitting or meeting hacks, but a team who want to help steer ideas and projects that come from within the ICTF. Whilst ideas may occur to the group, the expectation is that it will be the members who put forwards ideas and projects.
5.4 The Group are also looking to arrange training for the community and provide organisation for the Conference and related events. The Group is there to provide a voice for IT workers within the university, and wants to help improve communications all round – for example have projects announced earlier so that more input and advice can be sought. It would be good to encourage debate and ensure all points are taken on board. Community participation is very important for this to succeed, and not just leave things to the steering group.
6.1 This is a standing item which in future meetings will hopefully be one of the larger topics. When the forum was conceived, the idea was that money would be available for projects, but to date there have not been any funded.
6.2 Projects could be for a range of users, perhaps a way to help support specific areas and movement of resources (such as people). By working through SIGs ideas can be brought forward to the Steering Group and then taken to PICT for getting money behind it. A suggestion is that an existing departmental project is picked for a starting point and work to get ICTF involvement. There’s no set approach for this yet, but please contact SJL or JW if you have any ideas.
7.1 This is from the auditors of the university and is being implemented by ODIT. Whilst its exact implementation isn’t clear, it will have wide ranging impact on IT. Stuart Lee (SL) presented the item on behalf of Paul Jeffreys (PJ).
7.2 This is not an OUCS decree and not from OUCS - in fact OUCS will be affected equally by them. Whilst the Author is listed as Alan Gay, he’s not with OUCS. Please send comments and suggestion back to PJ. The audit process has taken up a lot of OUCS time, and these reviews have suggested there needs to be a reform of rules and regulations, but has become a series of guidelines on improving security and fitness for purpose. The most fundamental driver is to meet the requirements of the auditors to provide an environment that performs well and offers a secure system. Two documents have been prepared and this has gone to PICT already and signed off. College IT committee were generally supportive.
7.3 Best practices – not proscriptive, these are guidelines. Starting point is management structure in the use of ICT. Whilst a specific type of structure isn’t mentioned. Another key is ensuring staff are trained and competent to provide the job they are responsible for. There should be a list of nominated people who can be contacted by OUCS in an emergency related to networking. Documentation is important and must be maintained detailing the unit’s network and IT infrastructure. There are questions over who would resource this task. Devolved structure is highlighted here and points out that units are responsible for security and related issues. All systems that are on the network must be maintained to an adequate patched state. All queries should be sent to PJ about these processes as he is collating this feedback.
7.4 Legal services have highlighted that users must abide by university regulations, and there is no set approach as to how each unit will remind their users. Again the units are responsible for ensuring only authorised users have access to the network, and by authorised – there is a less than strict definition. People on legitimate university business and typically this means those with university card status. This can provide problems for those units offering conference facilities, and those units will need to review their policies. Question raised over policies and approaches to physical network access and whether unauthorised breaches are something that means the IT staff are accountable directly. There are also questions regarding the issue of System Administrator access privileges and how this is implemented. For Overseas collaboration, it should be possible to units to allow access in an application level.
7.5 User accountability and logging was highlighted as requiring sufficient tracking implemented for audit and security. The OxCERT and advisory pages effectively spell out the points raised over privacy and incident management.
7.6 The first paper is largely common sense and not too different from what is expected of all universities, even with Oxford’s unique structure. Units may need to be asking who will help support them to meet these requirements. SL is against the suggestion from the CITC for a crack support team, and notes that is it largely impractical. Suggestion was made that a SAG is created to gather examples of good practice with regard this paper. SL notes that NSMS is effectively the same thing.
7.7 Next in this process (for the next draft) after PICT endorsed these documents. The key is that units review these papers and determine how much work needs to be done to be in compliance. Send feedback to PJ (such as the forming of a SAG/SIG). PJ has offered to hold a special one-off meeting for further discussion on this if requested.
7.8 JW notes that whilst these are guidelines presently, down the line it will become policy, so this is really an opportunity to start working on these in advance.
7.9 Interest was expressed by various members of the audience in setting up a group specifically looking at the Conditions of Use. Simon Thomson expressly agreed to look into setting up a group that would look into this.
9.1 This topic is to become a placeholder for items that came up in the CITC. Nothing of note was raised at the last meeting. But the hope is that CITC and other groups will wall report back to the ICTF so everyone stays informed.
11.1 JW reports that two types of group have been set up and the hope is that there will be hundreds of these in the future, on whatever range of specific range of topics from the large to the small, trivial to non. The hope is that out of SIGs, special projects will start. Simon Thomson (Pembroke) has volunteered to start a group to discuss the above report/paper from the auditing process. The SAGs have a somewhat more formals structure, and are there to help a particular project.
13.1 Ashley (SAW) said “it has been suggested that people don’t really care about groupware. However, this is far from the case, as potentially 55000 of our users will be using groupware”. It is exclusively ITSS and has a wide-ranging representation, and whilst there are still spaces for more involvement the group doesn’t want to expand too far. The hope is that all ICTF members will bring their users issues related to groupware SAG and they can act as a communication nexus with the Groupware Project team. All communication related to the SAG is done through the Talkshop forum and it is requested that SAG members are not emailed directly about issues.
13.2 The advantages of the SAG come through their formal structure as a way to improve communications. There’s a flexible information flow with huge amounts of transparency (all through the talkshop forum with access to all ITSS). The SAG is using existing channels of communication and building on that.
16.1 Jon Lockley (JL) reflected back on the Unix lunches from 5 years past where people could bring their lunches and talk about things they’ve discovered in the Unix world. The modern approach to this is that now lunch is being provided, with the first meeting next term likely on security and encryption. Highlights that this is a good opportunity for younger members to make their first presentations to a technical and friendly audience and develop their skills accordingly.
19.1 SL has circulated a report on recent activities. Regarding Groupware, the main activity will be over the next calendar year and it is now largely an OUCS project which must be cracked in the next year, though help is welcome to make this a greater success. Please review the document that defines the scope of the project so that you will know what to expect from the system.
19.2 Regarding Wireless roll out, that starts in earnest in January 2009. All the divisions have been reporting back on their key public areas that they want to be wireless enabled – these reports aren’t finalised in terms of priorities, but there is a request for this information to be published so that those who were not involved with the wishlist gathering can see. Oliver Gorwits will look to publish these for reference.
19.3 Also in the next year is the move to the new Sakai based Weblearn system. Questions are asked about what overlaps exist between Weblearn and Groupware, and more information about this is detailed in the OUCS newsletter. In general terms Weblearn is for special teaching related tools, and Sharepoint will take on the role of hosting things like committee minutes, etc that have been in Weblearn previously. There is also work being done to improve ICT energy usage and some initiatives are being offered to those who are interested.
19.4 There is also a project underway to setup a new (dual) OUCS machine room in the next two years and the hope is this will become a major datacentre available for use by the whole university. There is still a need to keep and refurbish the existing OUCS machine room, but work on feasibility is first up. The new site isn’t geographically far from the current room, but of the many sites that were reviewed, this one was the only valid option. Possibly a case for setting up a SAG to inform the development and design of this new datacentre, probably in January.
20.1 The most important development in the libraries recently was SOLO. It’s not a replacement for existing systems (such as OLIS) but a layer above to help pool data sources together in a more modern interface. Unlike past projects that have waited until being polished before being released, this is being rolled out and developed in parallel (aka a Beta style service). The aim is to make it the first port of call for finding library resources, before handing users over to the next system down.
20.2 There is a move to a new system (replacement for OLIS?) and there is a need to spend time re-normalising the data for a smooth migration. SOLO appears to have been well received by the users, and they welcome further feedback, but already there are 67 pages of defects logged (or 1000 items).
20.3 Work is ongoing to replace OXLIP with OXLIP+, though this migration has not been so well received. Resistance to change has been the main issue, but please could you emphasis to users that the new system does everything the previous system does and more, and removes issues related to sign in via services such as Athens.
21.1 BSP have published a short paper outlining their updates, and IW talked briefly about some of the main items. First up is the replacement for the central university HR system, and by January the aim is to have a decision on the supplier for the new system, though it may be April before final confirmation. Work is being done on an alumni and development system to assist those areas. The first release of this system should be out in June/July.
21.2 OxCORT has had a new release out recently, though there have been noted performance issues that are now being addressed. There is also work to being this into the SSO system and work is being done with OUCS to encourage that.
23.1 Everyone was encouraged to come along and support the supplier’s exhibition this year being held at the Exam schools on 18th December starting at 10 am. Early booking is recommended as there are prizes available.