219. The Oxford central ICT expenditure plan has been produced for the first time. It must be stressed that the amounts shown in the ICT expenditure plan are illustrative.44
221. A full explanation of the central ICT expenditure plan is given in Appendix A.
222. The five year central ICT expenditure plan reveals the need for a consistent approach to establishing the costs of central ICT activities, and scopes the projected investment which will be needed to roll-out and maintain mission-critical central ICT services. Of necessity, this exercise is a very first attempt, the amounts are only illustrative, and much more detailed analysis will be required within the implementation phase of the ICT Strategic Plan.
223. An initial comparison between expenditure foreseen in the ICT expenditure plan and the amount allocated to ICT in the University’s Capital Projects Register reveals a significant discrepancy. This emphasises the importance of being able to terminate ICT services provided by the centre which are no longer essential.
P23. ICT pervades Oxford academic and administrative life. It is critical to fulfilling both individual and organisational aspirations. The establishment of a central ICT expenditure plan, therefore, which enables the collegiate University to anticipate and prioritise central ICT expenditure and development, is an essential outcome from the ICT Strategy Programme.
P24. The University requires a five-year rolling plan for central ICT expenditure (hereafter referred to as the ‘ICT Budget and Priority Plan’). Central ICT expenditure is an investment which has consequences for the whole collegiate University, and the investment must be managed, kept within a specified allocation, and priorities for expenditure specified, collectively.
P25. The academic community must determine the essential components within a prioritised central ICT expenditure plan; this process itself is dependent on appropriate ICT coordination and decision-making processes being in place in divisions and across the colleges.
P26. The ICT Budget and Priority Plan must take local ICT requirements and investment as its initial focus. It must identify the shared and central ICT services which are essential for the local services to operate effectively.
P27. The ICT Budget and Priority Plan must cover central expenditure on ICT in teaching, research, and administration (including services provided by OUCS, OULS and BSP). It must also foster conditions for local innovation and sustainability. Where appropriate the Plan must allow for, and fund, the scaling-up of local developments into Oxford-wide shared services.
P28. The ICT Budget and Priority Plan must take into account the University’s strategic objectives and the increasingly complex statutory requirements.
R21. Define an approach and a set of principles to develop a five-year University ICT Budget and Priority Plan covering the services funded centrally.45
R22. Enable users across the collegiate University to specify priorities for central ICT investment; the Plan should be updated yearly, and should offer a single consolidated view of central ICT investment.
R23. Provide a breakdown of ongoing operational expenditure and a descriptive and prioritised list of major new central ICT investments.
R24. Place the new five-year University ICT Budget and Priority Plan, and the process used to maintain it, under the ownership of the Director of ICT, and oversee its development through the PRAC ICT Sub-committee.46
R25. Establish processes to appraise expenditure on ICT in teaching, learning, research and administration, to measure total cost of ownership, to prioritise expenditure on new central ICT projects, and to establish and keep within a specified budget.
R26. Address the apparent discrepancy between the resources allocated for centrally-funded ICT in the University’s Capital Projects Register and the indicative amounts required for central ICT services in the five-year ICT expenditure plan.
224. An ICT Budget and Priority Plan is derived from analysis of local requirements within Oxford, the projects foreseen by the central ICT providers, and consideration of ICT requirements which enable Oxford to meet both its strategic objectives and the increasingly complex regulatory requirements.
225. A prerequisite for establishing an agreed ICT Budget and Priority Plan is to ensure an appropriate ICT Coordination and Decision-Making (CDM) structure is in place (see Section 6). The amounts in the Budget and Priority Plan presented here are illustrative.
226. The ICT Budget and Priority Plan tabulates central ICT applications and services which are currently foreseen, and assigns priorities on the basis of feedback received in sections 1 and 2. Central investment must be driven by the services and the environment that they provide for local users.
231. An initial presentation of an ICT Budget and Priority Plan, or ICT plan for proposed central ICT expenditure, is presented in Appendix A - Table A1. It should be stressed that the quantities shown in the table are illustrative, in the sense that substantial further analysis will be required to ensure a consistent costing algorithm (see Appendix A for details).
232. The purpose here is to propose a process by which Oxford will be able to construct a Budget and Priority Plan for central expenditure on ICT in coming years. It will be a blueprint for future procedures, and will be refined by the new Coordinated Decision Making structure.
233. The result of the exercise is a five-year ICT Budget and Priority Plan for central expenditure, with priorities set by Oxford, aimed to maximise the return for local units and users, and to facilitate long-term strategic ICT planning.
234. The University has conducted an exercise in parallel with the ICT Strategic Programme, undertaken by the Services Funding Working Group, with a remit, 'To consider and make recommendations to PRAC about the basis on which the cost of IT services should be met in the future'. The five year Budget and Priority Plan will be refined by using the outputs from this working group which includes a detailed analysis of current ICT services and funding models.
238. Assuming the current central ICT provider baseline budgets are maintained,48 the University is committed to approximately £11m/year plus Category 5 expenditure.
239. The central ICT expenditure plan has been created to be compatible with, and indeed supportive of, the Capital Projects Register, used by the University’s Capital Steering Group. An initial comparison between the expenditure foreseen in the ICT Budget and Priority Plan in its current state (remembering the uncertainties listed in Appendix A concerning the calculation of the amounts) and the proposed ICT expenditure in the Capital Projects Register, indicates that funding anticipated in the latter will only cover the capital49 costs of all Category 5 projects and a fraction of the Category 4 projects.
240. It will be essential for the collegiate University, through the new Coordinated Decision Making structure described in section 6, to specify central ICT priorities, and to ensure that mission-critical central services deliver effectively for the user and receive adequate funding in order to operate robustly, reliably, and effectively.
241. It is expected that all mission-critical central ICT services will be appraised as soon as possible, and risk assessments made to establish the likelihood of serious failure. This will make it possible for the Coordinated Decision Making structure to make informed decisions concerning where resources are most needed.
242. Not all items in Category 4 and no items in Category 3 are fundable within the ICT budget foreseen by the University’s Capital Steering Group. The Coordinated Steering Group structure will need to establish the amount of funding the collegiate University is prepared to allocate to central ICT provision (in competition with other priorities), to ensure ICT expenditure priorities are agreed within this overall allocation, and to ensure that key mission-critical ICT services are appropriately funded in order to be resilient, robust and reliable.
243. Table A3 in Appendix A offers a holistic view of ICT expenditure across Oxford. Taking the total spend from Table A2, the projected spends from Categories 1 and 2 (these would be cost-recovered and would not be borne by the Centre), an approximate total divisional spend on ICT (based on one Division’s approximate numbers), approximate college expenditure (based on the extrapolation from the spends of a few colleges), and finally some known ICT funding from external agencies (mainly Research Councils and JISC), gives an overall annual spend for ICT across Oxford in the region of £50m.
245. There is a general belief that many of Oxford’s mission-critical ICT services have not had sufficient investment. As a consequence, there is a risk that they are insufficiently robust and there is inadequate redundancy. A key priority is to address this by identifying the high-priority services and allocating sufficient resources (possibly at the expense of others).
246. The remainder of this section describes the ICT priorities for Oxford. The first grouping is based on the types of requirements identified in sections 1 and 2. The second set is the result of applying the categorisation metric described above.
248. Investigations are already underway to see whether a future University wireless service could be integrated with an Oxford city-wide service. Experience elsewhere has shown that this may be the most cost-effective approach.
249. The telephone infrastructure is based on ageing analogue technology (albeit reliable and maintainable). Increasing demand for new services will require a change of technology to Voice-over-IP (VoIP). The technology will be piloted within, for example, the Radcliffe Infirmary development, but a wholesale transfer of the University telephone infrastructure to VoIP should be started within the next five years, contingent on suitable infrastructure.
250. Throughout this period the University will need to review, as a matter of some urgency, its groupware solution (e.g. an integrated email, calendaring, scheduling, and messaging system). This will be undertaken alongside developing the ECE but would be hosted by OUCS. The costs for this will vary considerably depending upon the solution adopted.
251. Email services are a critical requirement throughout Oxford. The bulk of email traffic flows through the centrally supported mail facilities. Further investment is required to ensure that the infrastructure can meet increasing demand whilst providing the level of resilience required for essential services.
252. The development of an institutional portal framework has the potential to deliver user interfaces and behind the scenes interoperability between, for example, a groupware solution, the development of a Virtual Research Environment framework, and the Virtual Learning Environment.
256. An identity management service will help facilitate the implementation of a Campus-wide access management system to enable single sign-on to diverse resources, including via any institutional portal.
257. A strategic review of personnel and payroll systems should be undertaken. The present approach is to outsource payroll processing and retain and support in-house the Opendoor software for HR. The University relies heavily on Opendoor, and delayed replacement will create an acknowledged risk. Many consider that an integrated HR/payroll solution should be a long-term high priority aim (for 2009/10); the college dimension will be a crucial consideration for any future system.
258. The importance of the University’s web presence cannot be over-emphasised. Increasingly it is the main showcase for all the University’s activities, for the general public, applicants, and the academic community. There is a pressing need for a content management system, aligned with the Oxford ICT Structure, to support Web development.
259. There should be a piloting of a University ‘Smart Card’ as part of an overall access management strategy and which may be used by departments and colleges to control access to buildings and the use of selected facilities (e.g. Library borrowing, photocopying, catering).
260. The research grant costing service, currently provided by Resolve, should be upgraded in order to provide better interoperability with, for example, the financial system and external grant proposal submission processes.
262. The amount of data held within Oxford is growing exponentially, and there is at present no data storage framework for managing those data reliably and securely. In addition, there are areas of new and pending legislation which will impose obligations across Oxford, and where it is necessary to be able to demonstrate compliance. Increasingly, intellectual assets are held only in digital form. There is an urgent need to develop a data storage infrastructure which provides a range of facilities including access management, repository services, secure backup, and offline facilities.
263. Backup and archival services comprise a mixture of centrally supported and local facilities. Over the next three to four years there should a more unified approach to supporting departmental backup. Other areas that may need considering in the future include a backup service usable by undergraduates, and for PDAs and other mobile devices. Greater security would be provided through the provision of a second off-site storage location.
264. Institutional repository infrastructure includes an agreed framework for the development and delivery of interoperable digital repositories for e-prints and other forms of research output, learning objects, research data, and library, museum and archive collections in digital form.
265. Three central departments (Central Administration, Computing Services and Library Services) are building and deploying an Enhanced Computing Environment (ECE). This requires an initial outlay, to bring the three units to a common standard, and to create the new environment. After three to four years, this will result in an overall saving of resources.
267. Some of the current network infrastructure was installed in 1984. It is essential that the network provides the appropriate level of resilience to ensure that teaching, research and administration demands are met.
269. The current OUCS Computer Room is full to capacity and, as the location of many core infrastructure services, represents a potential risk to the business continuity of the University should the facility be subject to a prolonged outage. The provision of a modern, secure University-wide computer room facility is recommended in order to distribute and duplicate (as backup) key server and network infrastructure. It will be offered to units across Oxford to use on a cost-recovery basis.
272. The development of a Virtual research environment framework offers the potential for supporting collaborative, interdisciplinary research across the academic divisions; addressing the needs of particular research communities through offering reusable tools and shared resources within an interoperable framework.
273. A Research management and reporting system is essential in order to meet the requirements of the RAE for 2008 in particular and the need to report and disseminate information about research more generally. In the longer term the service should interoperate with, for example, institutional e-prints and data repositories and personalised virtual research environments.
276. Weblearn, the centrally supported Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), requires continued and adequate investment to ensure its long-term sustainability and continuation of its flexible and modular approach to the development and deployment of tools.
278. An integrated examinations management and classification system is required, including either the replacement or the further development of Mark-IT. It is important that any classification system can be easily adapted by departments to suit local marking schemes.
279. A voluntary purchasing framework, as operates in other similarly sized institutions, will be made available. Staff and students will be able to make purchases from a set of companies within an overall framework, possibly shared with other universities.
282. To encourage innovation and enable flexibility in responding to new developments, an annual fund should be made available to support innovative projects in ICT that match the University’s strategic goals. The fund should also be available to allow projects to migrate to services, within the context of the ICT Budget and Priority Plan.
283. Each of the projects has been classified according to the categorisation scheme described above. The central funding for Category 5 projects has already been allocated (mainly in 05/06). Category 4 projects have not necessarily been allocated resources but are considered to be the highest-priority activities. Category 3 projects are also desirable but may benefit from a pilot project to demonstrate their value before subsequent investment. Category 2 projects, mostly relevant to specific Oxford communities, are likely to be offered on some form of cost-recovery basis whilst Category 1 projects, though interesting, are currently considered a relatively low priority for internal funding, and rely on development funding to go ahead.
284. The following list orders projects first by their categorisation and then by size in terms of budget. In subsequent revisions of this exercise, the scope and status of each project will be specified. Illustrative budgets for each activity are indicated in Appendix A.