Inaugural meeting of the College IT Managers Committee

Colleges IT ManagersFollowing a rearrangement of how IT is included within the Conference of Colleges a number of new committees have been formed. As Head of IT Support Staff Services I am invited to this, and to the Colleges IT Strategy Committee.

We started with a welcome – Simon Mortimore (Exeter) as chair welcomed everyone and explained the role and structure of the CITMC. Christopher Hoskin (St Antony’s)  then led us through a discussion of groups represented within CITMC, partly by getting everyone present to introduce themselves and say what committees and project boards/groups they were on.  In my ITS3 role I have worked hard to get College IT staff on the boards of important IT Services projects.  Those present were also on groups such as the Divisional Software Licensing Group and the Network Advisory Group.

Simon Thomson (Pembroke) then gave us an update on the Integrated Communications Project.  It was useful to hear about the plans, what network requirements will be, how soft clients will be usable, and how there will be some parallel running with the current analogue system.  There was discussion about support for the current Cisco kit and investment at this stage of the project.

Next Christopher Thompson (New & Balliol) gave an update on Tribal:SITS for Colleges, the Student Systems Replacement Project.  It was good to note the Mark Dyson (LMH & New) is working with the project to ensure that interfaces to college systems are appropriately provisioned.

Simon Mortimore (Exeter) then spoke about College Sittings  of University Examinations.  This happens in special cases where Proctorial dispensation has been given for a student with special needs to sit an exam on a computer and in college.  There was a very sensible proposal to work closely with exam schools so that the IT experience of those sitting exams using computers in colleges is consistent with the experience of those sitting exams using computers in the exam schools.

Chris Bamber (Somerville) then talked about opening SSO Authentication for authenticating to Wireless Access Points.  At the moment this is possible via central radius (from IT Services) and he is asking for a central radius server that uses SSO credentials.  It is possible to do this on a per-college basis but has security issues.   The CITMC will formally ask its NAG reps to take this to next NAG.  There was general support for this, particularly as users are very confused about having a different remote access account and different password.  Agreed to take this to NAG and to IAM if necessary.  Virtually everyone supported this.

Ben Bridle (LMH and St Hugh’s) then updated the meeting on Information Security Policy.  He talked about the online Information Security awareness module.  Ben has done the modules and found them very useful.  You should too:  There are no clear dictats in Oxford as that’s not how our University works so colleges all have to take responsibility for this and deal with it seriously and comprehensively – it is much more than an IT issue!  An information policy is not the same as an IT policy.

Items of Other Business were a talk about NSMS from Brian Hicks (St Peters) and about The Cloud from Simon Thomson (Pembroke).  Brian thanked all college IT Staff for their support while he has been working in colleges and did a bit of a pitch for NSMS service, inviting input and feedback. Simon gave a brief update on “The Cloud” guest/conference access to the internet.  Negotiations are in place and progress is being made.

The meeting then broke off into open discussions and networking.  I was impressed at how well it was organised and how effective it was both at information sharing and decision/recommendation-making.

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