Session abstracts


Wednesday 28th October

Dr. Thierry Delaitre, Head of ICT Developments, University of Westminster
Harnessing public cloud to accelerate the pace and scale of pioneering research

The University of Westminster wants to double the income it receives from research grants by 2023, which means it needs to find a way to scale its research activities and the infrastructure that supports them.  Spotting the potential for public cloud to meet this objective without a significant investment in physical infrastructure and hardware, the university decided to put it to the test. How? By implementing three pilots to assess the speed, agility and performance that could be achieved using Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud. 

They ranged from how AWS Cloud could slash the ten-year timescales currently required for researchers to analyse 100,000 data sets via their desktop PCs, to how it could help them process complex RNA sequencing data sets more efficiently. In addition, the researchers performed a detailed ‘under the hood’ comparison between public cloud and the university’s private cloud. 

What did the investigations reveal? They confirmed the potential for public cloud to deliver technology-enabled research excellence. Dr. Thierry Delaitre – who led the pilots for the University of Westminster – will discuss the rationale, methodology, results and next steps of this comprehensive, three-pronged investigation into the suitability of the cloud to accelerate the pace and scale of pioneering research.


Andy Powell, Head of Infrastructure, Canterbury Christ Church University
Ransomware-proofing during Covid-19, NCSC compliance and 64% TCO savings – Smells like Nirvana!

The challenge of digital transformation in infrastructure started with removing analogue backup storage!

An insight into the challenges faced by CCCU when identifying a vendor to transform how they provide Multi-Cloud data control and protection across their most critical applications. How they looked to Rubrik to help meet those challenges and then expand the solution to also give them greater protection and assurance around O365 and Ransomware detection and compliance with the NCSC recommendations during Covid-19.


Matthew Collins, Infrastructure Specialist, Leeds Trinity University
Giving your Teams a Voice

The session will explore the technical enablement work required to move users to Teams as their primary phone system, the approach to migration, and how existing phone systems will co-exist with Teams. We also consider the potential impact of COVID on the project, analysing business needs, and other challenges, as well as benefits, of Teams telephony.

The session will also include video insights from JISC and the University of Reading who have recently completed their Teams telephony deployments.


Thursday 29th October

Robert Cheeseman, Solution Architect, University of Exeter
Nirvana by Design

Our sector, to varying degrees, was already well on the road to digital transformation. The pandemic, through remote working, online teaching and learning, and the associated IT changes has accelerated that journey by some 5 years. As the sector innovates, adapts or even survives in this new world, we now have the opportunity to design the nirvana we want.

In this presentation Rob suggests that student, academic and staff experiences in the ‘new normal’ can drive a vision of higher education provision within which we can re-design the business and digital capabilities we need and thus potentially not even have to entertain the question of Nirvana or Neverland.


Gareth John, Lead Architect, Q Associates
Hybrid Cloud: The ever-changing IT landscape

With the digital landscape in a state of constant flux, we explore the benefits and challenges associated with migrating workloads to the cloud, and the growing shift towards a hybrid multi-cloud model for flexible IT service delivery. This session will include a presentation followed by an interactive Q & A with opportunity for discussion with your peers.


Network Transformation @ MDX
Paula Vickers, Director Computing and Communications Systems Service, Middlesex University

Middlesex has started on a journey to transform its network, using Cisco Software Defined Access (SD-Access) and security technologies to enable the creation of multiple agile, secure academic and corporate networks on a single physical wired and wireless infrastructure, all managed by consistent policies and services from a central console.


Francis Gaffney, Director of Threat Intelligence, Mimecast
To Immunity & Beyond

Join Mimecast’s Director of Threat Intelligence to understand: what the current threats are to providers of online education & the associated platforms (and the resultant challenges); how users can be influenced and, therefore, exploited by sophisticated threat actors; and, explore those "easy win" activities that cybersecurity professionals can deploy to enhance their layered security.

Tuesday 3rd November

Nancy Rademaker
The Digital Imperative – Survival in the New Normal

The term “The New Normal” is being used by everyone to describe today’s COVID-19 disrupted world. In her keynote speech, Nancy helps us understand this disruption, the need it has created for urgent change and the role of technology as a massive enabler for positive outcomes. Digital transformation will be the key factor for any organization in order to survive and thrive in this “New Normal”. But at the same time, a human-centred approach in companies’ digital transformation will prove crucial. It requires not only to have issues around trust to be resolved, but also organizational structure and culture to be rethought to allow for the success of new business models. The rewards will be immense.”


Mat Flower, Assistant Director & Head of Digital Architecture, University of Wolverhampton
There’s No Digital Transformation Without Personal Transformation

In this session Mat reflects on his currency position of Head of Digital Architecture and the role that he and his team will be playing in helping the University of Wolverhampton deliver digital transformation. More specifically he will focus on how his work with ucisa has become intertwined and has been fundamental to his personal and professional development.


Wednesday 4th November

Tessa Rogowski, Assistant Director ITS, University of Ess
Moving teaching off campus in two weeks

Follow the Journey of The University of Essex moving all it’s teaching from Physical to virtual in the space of two weeks. Meet the team that shook up their technology stack to insert scheduled webinars for all their teaching and learning before finally going live 15 hours before the start of the teaching day.

James Seaman, Account Chief Technologist and Rachel Clay, Education Sales Manager, Softcat
01000100 01101001 01100111 01101001 01110100 01100001 01101100 Transformation: Digital Transformation is a meaningless term

Softcat’s Office of the CTO discuss what “Digital Transformation” means, what it should mean and how we think you should do it!


Nick Skelton, Independent IT Consultant
Forging a successful career in infrastructure: it’s not about the technology

Nick will talk on how to develop your career within HE IT infrastructure, to include personal anecdotes of what worked for him, advice from others, and some future gazing..