Archive for the ‘Projects & Development’ Category.

IS Services 
Annual Review 
2013-14

Our Annual Review brochure, 
designed in-house by 
IS Services, is an 
engaging view over the
work that IS Services 
delivered in the 
2013-14 Academic 
Year. In it you will 
find details of IT 
service improve-
ments delivered 
for staff and students, 
as well as a summary
of what we did to 
support teaching, 
learning, research, 
business and support
areas in College.   You can find a copy of the IS Services Annual Review 2013-14 (flash version) on our website.

Update: College Mobility project (February 2015)

Following on from the completion of the design stage, a public procurement tender was released to select a vendor to supply and build the new Wi-Fi network which will comprise about 2,000 high performance Wi-Fi access points and associated infrastructure. The successful vendor has been selected and the new build stage will commence subject to governance approval and contract.

What happens next …

The vendor will require a four week lead time, after which the central resilient core of the new network will be commissioned and installed.  

We will develop a build-out schedule for high priority areas, such as student residences without Wi-Fi, and the schedule will be made available to the relevant areas for approval.  

We will make all efforts possible to avoid disruption due to these works during the revision and examinations period.

Improving the College experience for staff and students

One challenge we face within IS Services is accommodating the varying technological needs of staff and students across diverse academic departments and areas of College. We tackle this challenge by listening to students via our annual satifaction survey and working with representatives from the student body and the IS Services Users group. These methods of gathering feedback give staff and students a greater voice. Below is a summary of what work was done over Summer, based on feedback received.

The focus of feedback from both staff and students was a need to improve th ease of connectivity to the College Wi-Fi services and to that end a range of activities were undertaken.

Students requested a streamlined process for connecting to and registering for the College network. In response, we simplified the onnection steps, expanded the help pages, and introduced support for additional anti-virus software.

After bringing iOS mobile devices onto the College network in December 2012, the most soughtafter development came by way of introducing Android devices to the College network.

Increased devices means increased usage. With that in mind, the College network received major upgrades over the Summer. Students and staff will now see faster wireless speeds and higher data rates. As well, we added high-density Wi-Fi coverage in high traffic areas such as the Biomedical Sciences Building. This comes as a result of an upgrade to the latest architectural design.

A major College initiative is now underway that will further enhance Wi-Fi coverage and connectivity in the next two years; an effort which will push the TCD Wi-Fi network to the top of the nation’s list of data networks. The vast majority of devices connect to the College network will see faster speeds and higher data rates, as well as a broader range of devices will be permissible on the network.

Planned vs. Unplanned Service Interruptions

Where IT upgrades or changes involve any service downtime or ‘at risk’ times, IS Services has a process in place to plan and organize these activities.  The Change Management process ensures we consult with interested parties from across all areas of College, via an ‘IT power users’ group and a fortnightly Change Management meeting within IS Services reviews and agrees on proposed changes.  

This process helps us to schedule upgrade works, avoiding planned disruption to services during sensitive times, e.g. exam time, receive input in advance from College representatives and plan communications for any service-affecting changes.

As is normal in the industry, we also have to anticipate that unplanned disruptions to IT services will happen.  During incidents such as these, it is the priority of IS Services to restore normal service as quickly as possible or find a suitable workaround for those who rely on those IT services.

Communications are a vital part of this process.  Students and staff can find more information regarding on-going planned upgrade works or service improvements on our website or in the IS Services blog; while unplanned outages and disruptions will always be reported on the IS Services website in the alerts section and through our Twitter.    

 

Protecting day-to-day IT from disaster

Many of the teaching, administrative and research activities in College are heavily dependent on the numerous IT networks and services IT networks and services provided and supported by IS Services. The wireless network, College websites, email and printing services to name just a few are all essential to the day-to-day operation of College life.

With this in mind, IS Services are currently engaged in a project to ensure that all these services are properly protected from disaster events such as floods, fires, cyber-attacks and power failures in a comprehensive way which will minimise any downtime or disruption to staff and students.

IS Services have developed a ‘Disaster Recovery Strategy’ which we plan to implement which will involve running services from multiple data centre locations on campus as well as further protecting all important College information by ensuring that copies are regularly backed up off campus just in case.

The College IT Security Officer is also preparing a ‘Business Continuity Plan’ for IS Services. This is a document which sets out everyone’s roles and responsibilities and records the detailed steps which are necessary to recover information and resume services in the event of a major disaster in one of our computing facilities. This is a long term project involving input from every area in IS Services and many of our customers. We will keep you updated on our progress along the way.

Project updates

Since 2009, the Programme Management Office (PMO) has overseen all significant development projects for IS Services. A few projects of note are:

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) … There are two major components to this project. First, it will provide a new hosting platform for College IT services.  This is a large-scale migration job which will replace all existing storage and some of the existing server platforms.  IaaS is also being configured to support the provisioning of future College IT systems including the eStrategy systems.

Virtual Learning Environment Blackboard 9 Upgrade … Recently completed, this project has provided College with an upgraded, modern VLE.  It integrates with the relevant College services and is hosted in the Cloud, by Blackboard in Amsterdam.

HR Programme … A programme of work to implement process and technology improvements which streamline the delivery of HR information and services.  This includes:
– Workforce Planning
– Employee First
– Core Upgrade
– Pensions Administration System
– Time & Attendance

GeneSIS … This was a project to provide the technical infrastructure and systems integration necessary to ensure that the SITS student information system functions correctly. SITS will bring many benefits to College, including a better student experience and improved academic administration.

FIS (2013) … The introduction of a new Finance System is to provide functionality that will facilitate the College in achieving strategic financial objectives, for example:
– Improved integration
– P2P solution
– Real time reporting
– Self-Service facilities

Research Proposal & Award Management System (RPAMS) … The scope of the project is to procure, implement and interface an ‘end to end’ Research Proposal and Award Management System. The system aims to support and track all documents relating to research proposals and awards until point of transfer to post-award management.  It is a project for the Trinity Research & Innovation (TR&I) unit whose primary goal is to produce a more efficient and effective contract review and signature process for the College community.

Please see our website for a full summary of PMO services, projects and works.

IS Services

IS Services and GeneSIS

The GeneSIS project is a College-wide project which has delivered the new student information system (SITS) accessed via the my.tcd.ie portal. This new system is aimed at improving the student experience, improving academic administration and will bring many benefits to students and staff.

In support of the GeneSIS project, IS Services has contributed greatly to its development and maintenance. This support includes providing the infrastructure components on which the new student information system runs, as well as contributing to the migration of data from the legacy student system. Additionally, much work has been carried out to integrate the new student system with existing College systems, and at the time of writing, this interfacing work is almost complete.

Furthermore, procedures are being put in place to support the components of the student information system that will remain the responsibility of IS Services – such support will be coordinated by a team within Management Information Systems (MIS) and will involve all divisions of IS Services and support provided by the vendor.

IS Services

Enhanced internet access service – update

As you may already be aware, IS Services is in the process of implementing a change in how College users access internet resources external to College.  The enhanced service provides improvements in performance, such as in streaming audio and video, along with a major benefit of not having to authenticate in each application requiring internet access.  Below is a summary of the changes to date and future plans.

  • On 15th March 2012 the enhanced service was successfully rolled out to staff using the staff wireless network
  • On 21st March 2012 the enhanced service was successfully introduced to all postgraduates using the TCDconnect service
  • On 3rd April 2012 the enhanced service was successfully extended to all undergraduates using the TCDconnect service

The next steps are as follows:

  • To provide a further enhancement for those using the TCDconnect wireless service, removing the need for the ‘keep-alive’ page and so providing an experience equivalent to working from home
  • To complete the roll out of the enhanced service to all College computer rooms
  • To carry out a phased roll out to the wired network in College offices and labs with further direct communication with the staff in each College area prior to any change

Longer term the aim is to provide a zero-configuration environment for wireless and domain-authenticated users, meaning that it will no longer be necessary to configure proxy settings in any application.  Furthermore, for the majority of users, there will be no additional authentication required when accessing external internet resources beyond logging into the College network.

Further developments will be published to the IS Services website, news blog and to Twitter.

IS Services

Mobile Devices and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) – Network Connectivity and Coverage

IS Services recognises the transformative nature of mobile technology as an enabler in teaching and learning, research and innovation, and administration.  As a technology mobility can play a role in enhancing the student experience on campus and in residence, and meet guests’ expectations for a Wi-Fi service.

Plans are underway to provide for the connectivity of a broad range of mobile devices and to enhance wireless network coverage.  A staff pilot service for the connectivity of selected mobile devices is in progress which will be made available to all staff in the coming weeks.  The existing TCDconnect service will be extended to provide for selected mobile devices for postgraduate students over summer months, and a project has commenced to provide service to undergraduate students in the coming academic year.

Further developments on this will be posted to the IS Services website, blog and Twitter.

IS Services

Digital Humanities Forum: Call for Innovative Digital Projects April 2012

From Prof. Susan Schreibman, Assistant Professor in Digital Humanities, Trinity College Dublin:

The Digital Humanities Forum is delighted to announce a call to support two digital humanities pilot projects led by faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science during the 2012-2013 academic year (September-May). This call is an application for support and development of digital humanities resources.  Successful projects will be supported in the design, development, deployment and evaluation of the project.

For further information please view details of the call and the application.

IS Services