Thank you for taking part in the Exhibition at the UCISA IG18 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 Crewe. 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 trend towards moving to the cloud shows no sign of abating – many institutions are adopting a cloud first strategy. However, what moving to the cloud means varies greatly between institutions. Is it locating all hardware away from the institution? Or just moving the commodity services out, keeping those that are deemed core to the institution’s business in house? Or a matter of identifying all services that can be provided externally and moving those off site?
The wholesale migration of the IT estate to a remote data centre might seem attractive to the Finance Director – the data centre is an expensive space both in terms of the space that could be re-deployed for teaching and the cost for power and cooling. But are the implications of such a move understood by senior management? How can you support infrastructure managers in defining a data centre migration strategy that supports the institution’s business and strategy?
Many institutions took their first tentative steps into the cloud by outsourcing commodity services – mail was the first service but was quickly followed by provision of standard office applications, accessible across a wide range of platforms, both fixed and mobile. The range of applications provided by services such as Office365 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?
The IT estate in a higher or further education institution is complex. There are many dependencies – not just between the systems required to deliver the institution’s business but also between individual systems and the software and operating systems on which they are based. The pace of change, particularly in cloud based services, is relentless – not all applications providers are resourced to keep up. This presents real challenges to institutions that only have a short timeframe during the summer to implement major changes to systems. How can you help institutions mitigate the risk of running applications on anything other than the latest version of the operating system or database?
The advent of £9000 student fees in England saw a significant investment in new buildings and refurbishments across the sector. However, the investment in the physical estate was not matched by spending on IT infrastructure, nor by improvements in processes. Consequently many institutions are now looking to invest in these areas, honing processes, adopting automation and self service and improving the IT infrastructure. In addition, institutions are ensuring 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. Compliance with GDPR and commercial standards such as PCI DSS place further demands on the network and IT infrastructure. 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 Crewe.
UCISA Executive Director