Programme Board meeting today - looking at progress on a number of important projects. Most going well (especially eRecruitment as I mentioned the other week), and some slower than we'd hoped. Several big ones on the go that if they come to fruition within our agreed timescales will mean we have a new portal, a new VLE and a new managed desktop all going live over next summer. Will require some careful resource management. Our replacement desktop is the one I have the most concerns about - it has been a priority for some time but we can't seem to find an ideal solution. How do we deliver over 250 applications of very different types (some standard like office, some requiring a great deal of graphics processing like CAD, some a great deal of processing power) to our 1500 student open access computers, all of the lecture theatres and to personal devices such as laptops wherever they happen to be. Thin client/web-based would seem to be the answer but this doesn't work for every application (especially the large ones) and requires a fairly significant investment in the infrastructure. Hopefully we'll have a solution soon - answers on a postcard please.
Also had a meeting with colleagues from our Procurement Office to discuss matters specific to IT procurement. Included many of the old chestnuts such as when is an upgrade not an upgrade, and how long does a tender last, as well as some new issues. Services that cost nothing, such as our recent Google outsourcing, have thrown up all sorts of issues for procurement departments. How do you evauate open source software against commercial software was another area for discussion. Very productive and informative meeting, but I do get very despondent when a we're told that situation we have in place with suppliers which works really well and provides best value to the University is no longer possible because of a change in European law. Off to find out what other IT departments are doing about it. Surely someone will have found a way round it, oops, sorry, a different interpretation of it.