Thursday, 17 April 2008
Hype and more hype..
I was in London today for a RUGIT meeting. Began with a presentation on the UK National Grid Service. The NGS has over 700 registered users and is funded by JISC and EPSRC. It provides integrated grid access to compute and data resources, and as part of the White Rose Grid, we are one of its core sites. Very interesting discussion on what the NGS can offer Universities, and how it can provide support, training, common interfaces, distributed virtualised data storage and monitoring and sysadmin support. The NGS is keen to improve its engagement with University computing services and this was a good start.
After an update on JANET activities from its Chief Executive, we had another presentation from Eduserve –another body keen to improve links with us. We are in demand at the moment! Eduserve, through CHEST, negotiate many of our site licences with software suppliers, and one of the things we discussed was the reluctance of many suppliers to allow us to provide software for use on students’ own machines. We felt that this was an area where Eduserve could help us, especially if they could provide a central distribution system for any such software – centralised download pages for students for example.
Finally we had a robust discussion about benchmarking – something we have been discussing for ages! Last year we all plotted where we were with certain services on a Gartner Hype Cycle and then compared them. This year we’re going to carry out a web based survey to collect qualitative rather than quantitative data, so that we can see where we are in developments in relation to other Russell Group Universities. The discussion was robust, because some of the group didn't want to spend any money on it, and some of us did!
I’ve kept in touch with base today using my laptop and a USB modem, the Eduroam wireless network, and my phone, and done lots of work on the train or in those boring bits that occur in all meetings! The most useful bit of software I’ve used all day is myChat – it’s great – but more people need to use it. At any one time there’s about 45 people in CiCS logged in – it will be even more useful if more people use it!