"Information Strategy of Newcastle University"
Information Strategy of Newcastle University Paul Hopkins Director – Information Systems and Services University of Newcastle upon Tyne Paul.Hopkins@newcastle.ac.uk Newcastle University • North East England • Founded 1834 • 17,000 students • 3 Faculties, 30 Schools • $450m turnover • $100m Research Mission & Key Initiatives • To deliver world-class research, world- class teaching and support the economic development of North East England • “Value For Money” • “Full Economic Cost” of research • 50% of school children to go to University • Need to find new sources of funding Newcastle’s IT Situation • Single campus, centralised IT approach • Strong IT infrastructure skills • Operate Regional academic network (5 Universities, 23 Colleges, 450,000 users) • 125 IT staff • $10m allocation from University, plus $3m external earned income IT Goal • By November 2007, to give the best University based IT service in the UK! • “Simple” (not easy!) infrastructure, “Common desktop”, integrated applications, highly resilient • Focus continually on CUSTOMER SERVICE • …Numbers, numbers, numbers! Newcastle’s IT Philosophy • For core applications, use mainstream vendors (Microsoft, SAP, Oracle etc) • For “Niche”/emerging applications (eg timetabling, VLEs etc) use best of breed • For exploratory or small-scale use develop in- house • Go for campus-wide licensing, go for thin-client access in addition • Develop “Service Oriented Architecture” approach – “Web Services” based on open standards Newcastle’s IT Architecture • Move towards “Dark Fibre”-based regional network • Campus & dormitories cabled – wireless as a complimentary network • 10,000 desktops on campus including 1,500 in student cluster-rooms • >90% Active Directory managed Common desktops (- huge success!) • Small, but significant, Apple and Unix user groups Microsoft Environment • Largely, MS desktops, mainly MS servers (but significant Linux and Solaris servers) • All XP, Server 2003, Exchange, MS Office, growing SharePoint use etc • Campus Agreement, special deals for student purchases, Remote Access • Try to stay at leading edge of MS technologies (eg Collaborative computing) Applications Architecture • SAP-dominated administrative systems HR/Payroll, Finances, Purchasing -1999 Student Records-2003 Portal, CRM, Data Warehouse, Workflow, document management – 2005 • Best of Breed – Blackboard (VLE), Scientia (Timetable) • In-house – Accommodation, e-Portfolios, Shibboleth, SMS Text-messaging etc • Starting move towards SOA architecture – backbone of XML/http web services to link all applications Customer-Centric Visions • Any-time, Any-place, Any-thing on Any device • “Peace of mind” computing experience for students and researchers • Timely, accurate and consistent data for administrators • Self-service IT Some major areas of benefits By implementing Active Directory across more than 9,200 desktops on Campus… • We have eliminated or radically reduced the issues of different software versions on different machines, security updates etc • We have all user application data stored on public drives – not on c: drives • We need very few (1-2 full time staff) to manage ALL these machines • We can remotely re-build machines and roll-out new applications with ease Huge benefits, financially and service wise! Example, recently rolled out CONDOR across 1500 desktops – this has given us a large GRID computer at almost zero cost. We may increase to 10,000 computers ultimately… Integrated Administration Newcastle have implemented, (at great expense and effort!), a full range of SAP modules. However, the benefits are now starting to really come through… 1. Accurate and timely basic information across the entire University 2. “Future-proof” - Rock-solid basis for developing other applications, lower risk of vendor “disappearing” 3. Competitive advantage – we hope to dramatically increase our market share of international postgraduates next year (each one worth $15,000) 4. Can attract IT staff from outside Education. In future, we could “out-source” or set up a “shared service centres” for many Universities Collaboration Benefits We have 5 Universities and 23 colleges in the Region, connected by a Data Network. Although we compete at certain levels, we now actively collaborate in IT. Examples:- • Talk to vendors as a “group” • Do things “once” not “n” times (eg e-mail filtering) • Share our “experts” – help each other • Put our servers/data into other machine rooms • Collaborative projects in Shibboleth and e-Portfolios We have more in common than we have in difference Summary To become the “Best University based IT service in the UK…” we need to • Set targets, benchmark, measure our performance • Visit other Institutions, conferences etc to look for trends and ideas • “Steal with pride” ideas from Institutions that provide better services than ourselves! • Collaborate with others (vendors and Universities)