Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 31st January 2012 in the PR Meeting Room.


  • 1 Apologies for absence and Membership of the Committee
  • 2 Matters oustanding from the previous meeting
  • 3 Matters for discussion (attached)
  • 4 Head of IT report (attached)
  • 5 Finances (PJW)
  • 6 AOB
  • 7 Date and time of next meeting: Tuesday 8th May 2012 at 11am in PR meeting room


See minutes below.


- AMC to report upon 2e “Server Infrastructure Upgrade”.

- AMC to report upon 2f “Photocopying and Printing”.

- PJW to report upon Nexus and Exchange2010 (Materials scheduled for 07/03/12-08/03/12)

- PJW to report on ISBP project

  • Draft university Information Security policy (to be circulated as PDF attachment)
  • Draft university ISBP toolkit (summary of implications to be presented)


The report below summarises activities since the last meeting of ITC, as categorised by topic. The report is intended for record rather than for discussion at ITC meeting although queries may arise.

Admin Network Several software packages were upgraded due to security alerts. No major changes.

Teaching LaboratoryAll computers were given a check-over before Hilary term.

Lecture theatres / meeting rooms All rooms checked at end of term and before start of term. The BR committee room was setup for the 2 week Modelling option. The HR projector was repaired and returned.

Digital Print-room Printing has been steady. (resolved cable problem with SGR printer).

Library no changes.

MML Modelling option course in 21BR required re-commissioning 18 computers. Regular security updates of desktops. Software requests for desktops and clusters (DISCUSS, Lumerical, DDT, MaterialsStudio)

EM Ron Doole, Steve Lett and Graham Wyatt migrated to tickle-down desktops from the MML.

MFFP no changes.

OMCS One new desktop supplied (Holdway) and two desktops to be replaced(Crossley/Vockins). Planning upgrade of ACT (contact management system) and migration to virtual hardware. VPN access being installed for remote control of Jeol6480LV by Cellmark.

Website The department website has been redesigned by Applejack in liaison with PJW . Security updates were applied to (9) pmwiki sites and (10) cmsmadesimple sites twice. PJW configured several new websites for various research groups:
http://fng.materials.ox.ac.uk (pmwiki) Porfyrakis/Warner
http://ccpnc.materials.ox.ac.uk (blank) Yates
http://polymers.materials.ox.ac.uk (pmwiki) Assender
http://gabrys.materials.ox.ac.uk (wordpress) Gabrys
http://gadest.materials.ox.ac.uk (pmwiki) Murphy

Publications Only a few business cards at this time of year. Also printed schools flyers.

Network Two 3com switches failed and were replaced with second hand 3com equipment from Merton college. Several network misconfigurations causing flip-flopping were detected and corrected.

SecurityCurrently liaising with GDWS to get his home IP removed from spam blacklists.

Disposal Items are accumulating slowly.

Software No significant changes. Abaqus and Comsol renewals are due.

Disaster Recovery and Backup Failure of the Ashley Brown’s disk revealed that the PAT database was not backed-up (major disaster losing 4 years of PAT data!). Unfortunately two external data recovery companies both confirmed that the data was irrecoverable due to physical damage of the disk media. The PATguard software has been reinstated and the database a backup procedure implemented and tested to ensure that this does not happen again. This disaster prompted a review of the backup status of all the other MicrosoftSQL databases in use around the department and action has been taken where necessary.

Corruption of the operating system in a Differential Scanning Calorimeter (KAQOR), equipment dating from 1992, has been proving difficult to remedy. A replacement disk has been sourced but the original (re-)installation media seem corrupt. The metals processing group are currently without any DSC capability.

New Device registrations November: 13; December: 3; January: 14;


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 31st January 2012 in the PR Meeting Room. The following people attended: APD, PJW, AMC, KS, RT, SCB, JDM, SS, EG.

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

Grigore Moldovan sent his apologies. Chris Akinola was attending a course at OUCS. Ian Atkins was invited as OUCS representative but was unable to attend this meeting. Eleanor Grieveson was welcomed to the committee as JCCG representative.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

(Items marked with * were not for discussion at the meeting)

a) *IT disaster recovery plans (Minute 2a)
PJW will expand documentation to include more details about these servers and services which need to include service/server location, failover design, backup location(s) and specific configurations. Levels of ‘disaster need to be defined and recovery procedures written.

Action: PJW

b) *Podcasting (Minute 2b)
There has been no progress converting the schools liaison audio material into a format which could be used to start a series of audio podcasts.

Action: PJW/SCB

c) *PC maintenance – OUCS computer hardware breakdown service (Minute 2c)
CA and PJW have started a review of the warranty status of department-owned equipment in order assess the extent of our liability and hence be able to calculate the potential cost of wide-spread use of the scheme. This task is continuing. (No action since last meeting)

Action: PJW/CA

d) IT strategic plan (Minute 2d)
PJW still needs to rework the draft strategy document into a questionnaire.

Action: PJW/APD

After further consideration an email terminal will not be implemented in reception. PJW has checked and upgraded software on the EM IT suite computers. PJW has passed on the suggestion for phones (signs?) external to building front doors to SHA.

PJW advertised IT workshops providing help/advice on topics such as wireless, backup, printont, etc. Attendance at the initial workshop was very low, and after discussion at the ITC it was agreed that running workshops of this nature would be more effective at the start of the academic year. No further workshops will be run in the current academic year, and PJW to plan workshops for MT2012 as part of the induction process.

Action: PJW

e) *Server Infrastructure upgrade (Minute 2e)
The Infortrend SAN is operational after reconfiguring from scratch. The manufacturers did offer the loan of an identical unit to help with this after they were convinced that there was a bug in the software. Although this offer was declined as a loan wasn’t required, it was good to have the problem acknowledged and a fix, albeit a drastic one, found.

The virtualising of the Department servers, including the file server replacement is on-going. There is a question of load to the SAN occasionally causing non responsiveness. For this reason further testing of the file servers is being undertaken. A plan to migrate groups of users is also being formulated. One or more of these groups may be asked to help with load testing. The overall aim is to migrate all users with the minimum of disruption.

Action: AMC

f) *Photocopying and Printing (Minute 2g)
When time permits the network printers will be migrated from the old iPrint server with Pcounter print monitoring to the new iPrint servers with Papercut-MF print monitoring.

Action: AMC

g) Website and On-line Presence (Minute 3a)
The website redesign has been circulated to senior staff for comments. PJW has been given the go-ahead to go live with the new site when ready.

Numerous aspects of the website will be developed further - including Research in Progress updates, equipment booking pages, events/calendar search etc. Upgrading work will be on-going and members of ITC were asked to give any further constructive comments on the new website to PJW.

Action: PJW

3 Matters for Discussion

AMC updated the committee about the status of items 2e and 2g above.

a) Nexus Exchange migration PJW outlined the schedule and expected impact of the Nexus migration to Exchange 2010. The Department is scheduled to migrate overnight on 8th/9th March. It is expected that Mac email clients will require reconfiguration for the period between 14th February - 9th March. PJW was satisfied that Nexus Team appear to be managing the transition well and expects minimal disruption to users. More information at http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/nexus/upgrade/

a) Draft Information Security Policy PJW outlined the status of the new University Information Security Policy. A one-page précis of the policy was presented at the meeting however the implications of the new policy are significant and wide ranging therefore PJW was requested to generate a more detailed action plan for circulation to the committee for input.

Action: PJW

4. Head of IT Report

A written report was circulated with the agenda. (see above)

5. Finances

There was no discussion of finances except to note that the annual budget planning meeting has been scheduled.

6. AOB

a)JCCG Summer Questionnaire SS circulated draft IT specific questions for the next JCCG summer questionnaire requesting feedback from the committee. PJW commented that the general nature of the questions was good and that more specific questions were not needed.

Action: All

7. Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is on Tuesday 8th May 2012 at 11am in PR meeting room.

The meeting closed at 12.00pm