Exhibitor briefing

Thank you for taking part in the Exhibition at the ucisa IG19 Conference. The support you, and your fellow exhibitors, give ucisa is greatly appreciated and we hope that you have a productive couple of days in Leeds.  The following briefing focuses on the current issues that the Conference delegates are facing and is intended to help you get the most out of the event.
The IT estate in universities and colleges is becoming increasingly disparate – a blend of different hardware, operating systems, location, physical and virtual machines. This brings many challenges in terms of integration and connectivity, resilience and management of the plethora of systems and services.

There is an expectation from the student body that IT is always on and that services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. However not all systems need to be available all of the time. In addition to knowing which are the key services that do need to have a high level of availability, IT departments will need to know which systems underpin those services and which must also be brought into a high availability regime. The same approach needs to be taken when considering business continuity arrangements – which are the services that are critical to restore first and which can be deployed at a later stage. How can you help institutions understand their IT estate and build cost effective but highly available services?

The range of services provided in the cloud continues to increase. Similarly the range of applications provided through services such as Office365 also continues to grow – but are institutions making the best use of the services that are available to them? This does not just apply to cloud services - how can you help your customers make the best of the technologies available? 

Institutions continue to invest in their digital estate, providing personalised online access to many services. In order to deliver these solutions, institutions need to ensure that the network, both wired and wireless, has sufficient capacity now and is extensible in the future, and that wireless coverage extends across the whole estate and can accommodate student, staff and visitor needs without compromising network security and institutional systems. How can you help institutions address these issues?

Finally, cyber security remains a top concern. Higher and further education institutions are subject to a wide range of cyber attacks through malware, ransomware, phishing or distributed denial of services attacks. Institutions need to take proactive measures to reduce the risk, but also be able to mitigate the impact of incidents and when they occur. External funders of research are now mandating that institutions meet the minimum cyber essentials requirements. However, implementing cyber essentials across the entire institution is challenging, particularly where responsibility and/or ownership of IT provision is devolved across the institution. How can you help your customers mitigate the risk of cyber attacks and ensure compliance with their legislative and commercial obligations?

I hope that you find this briefing a useful aid to your conversations with the delegates.  For further updates on activity within the sector please check the ucisa website.  A web version of this briefing, including links to the resources mentioned, will be posted on the ucisa website in the Exhibitors area of the Conference. Finally, I would like to remind you that the Conference sessions are open to exhibitors and would encourage you to drop in to the sessions as they may well give you further insight on the challenges currently facing the sector. 

The ucisa team and Conference Organising Committee look forward to meeting you in Leeds. 

Peter Tinson 
ucisa Executive Director