RUGIT meeting today in London, and some interesting stuff discussed. First up was a presentation from the NCC (National Computer Centre) about an accreditation service they have started running for IT departments. It's been piloted in about 15 different departments from different sectors and now they're looking to roll it out. Basically it consists of some prior work being done by the department in completing a workbook explaining how they fulfil certain standards and giving evidence. This is followed by a whole day visit from the assessor who determines if you have met the standard to attain accreditation. The aim is to reward capability and best practice, to provide IT departments with a structured business improvement plan, and to enable IT services to benchmark themselves against other both in and out of their sector. Normally I'm a bit sceptical about such things, but this came recommended by a fellow IT Director who'd been one of the pilots, and it was relatively inexpensive and fairly low risk. Might be worth following up, and it might give us some useful benchmarking data.
We then had a very interesting presentation from JANET UK about video conferencing and telepresence. V/C is becoming more popular now, especially with the need to reduce travel, use our time more efficiently and reduce our carbon emissions. We discussed the relative benefits and disadvantages of the rather heavyweight and complex offering of the JANET video conferencing service (JVCS), and the desktop clients that many of us use such as Skype. One is room to room, the other person to person. Room to desktop/person is still not particularly easy. Lots of potential for new developments - I liked the concept of telepresence, which I've not really looked at before. Warwick University are beginning to use it - looks a lot better than standard VC - I imagine you would feel lot more connected and as if you were in the same room.
Finally we talked about the Identity Management Toolkit which has recently been produced. Funded by JISC and supported by organisations such as UCISA, it's a very useful set of tools and covers governance and policies, systems, institutional requirements, gap analysis, project and supplier management. Looks like something we should be looking at and seeing if we can make use of it. The group had a long, complicated, and at times full and frank discussion about identity management. I can't decide whether we're doing it right, or I've missed the point altogether, as I just can't see what the problem is or why it seems so difficult to everyone else!