Friday, 13 February 2015

RUGIT awayday continued, JISC, HEFCE and N8

We started this morning with an update from JISC. Tim Kidd outlined some of the things JISC Technologies have been doing, including:
Agreeing terms of contracts with Microsoft and Google for the sector
Putting in place a dynamic framework for file synch and share.
Establishing an archive to tape framework
Amazon web services framework launched in October
Consolidating the Financial XRay which looks at the total cost of IT
About to look at what the sector wants them to do with cloud frameworks
The shared tier 3 joint data centre in Slough with an 800 rack and requirement gathering started for second data centre in North of

They are also just starting Eduroam service monitoring which shows compliance with Eduroam technical specification and provides real time feedback to sys admins. Prof of concept is complete and the "box" will soon ship to 300+ sites.

Also touched on Security, and they are enhancing the security monitoring of the network so that they can identify, analyse and classify events in near real time. They are also looking to protect customers from a wider range of DDOS attacks.

We also got an update about what the R and D section is doing, including some of the student projects from the summer of student innovation which I've written about before.

Something I'm interested in is their Learning Analytics project which aims to develop a dashboard and app so that staff can track students learning progress and get warnings when students are at risk of dropping out so that interventions can be planned. Some interesting ethical issues need to be addressed, for example when university data is combined with postcode data.

After that we got an update on the N8 HPC project which we are involved in, and you can read about that here.

Final session was from David Sweeney, Director (Research, Education and Knowledge Exchange) at HEFCE. As ever, an entertaining and informative talk, looking at the funding landscape particularly in relation to research. His main point was that UK Higher Education is world leading and will continue to be so. We should consider our cups to be half full rather than half empty, there's been so much change in last 20 years that we will surmount anything. It will be tough but we will win.
Higher education is vital for economic growth, and research is central to this. He touched on the REF, and particularly the impact measurements. I hadn't realised that all of the case studies are on line on the REF web site, and they make very interesting reading. The conclusion was that we should make strategic decisions about research investments, partner with big players and stop doing things that aren't productive.

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