Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting

A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 7th May 2013 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 29th Oct 2013 at 11am in PR meeting room


See minutes below.


XP end-of-life planning document.


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 All user data was migrated to new virtualized infrastructure. One new computer was supplied to Head of Department. Scientia timetabling system has replaced the old MRBS room booking system. Access to room bookings is now restricted to administrative staff who have all received training from PJW.

Teaching Laboratory PJW and KAQOR and AOT have reviewed computer provision in the teaching laboratory. Funds are not available to replace all the systems before XP end-of-life in April 2014. The current plan is to replace the 6 microscopy-control computers from IT funds this year, and replace 4 desktops from IT funds next year, disposing of 8 old desktop and upgrading the remaining 8 desktops to achieve a total of 12 desktops on-going. The laptops remain unfunded and unreplaced.

Lecture theatres / meeting rooms All rooms checked at end of term and before start of term. There have been fewer problems with whiteboards becoming dirty since Dawn Hazel has been doing weekly checks of all rooms. Cooling fans purchased and fitted to BRLT lectern to prevent overheating of the AV equipment, especially the Tandberg video conference kit.

Digital Print-room Nothing to report.

Library Nothing to report.

MML The desktops need reinstallation and several clusters need reinstallation an upgrading.

EM Jeol2200 now has it own sinology storage array. FIB200 computer repaired. Numerous ongoing tasks associated with the imminent rewire of the ground floor. [All networking being replaced. Door entry system being kept due to lack of funds to replace. Phones migrating to VOIP.]

MFFP Several new postdocs and students and associated computers.

OMCSThe OMCS archive was migrated to the new server infrastructure.


Security updates were applied to (10) cmsmadesimple sites twice. However www.materials and www-solar.materials still need attention in order to be upgradable to the current version of CMS made simple.

New websites under development: defects.materials (Fitzgerald group), www.materials (Marrow project), qnano.materials (GADB project), oxfordpes2013.materials (Giustino conference), jcmaxwell.materials (Yates project), www-emtest.materials (EM instruments website), www-eia.materials (Kirkland group), atomprobe.materials (Moody group) Since 9th April 2013 Kay Davies is now able to provide upto 2 days per week for web support. Personal homepages update triggered and Kay to chase people after 20th May.

Publications 10 sets of business cards and several visa passport photographs.

Network various network switches replaced /patched. All Cisco switches and access points updated iOS. New wireless access point installed in Hirsch West. Preparations for the rewire of ground floor of the Holder Building are underway and the new network cabinet has been installed.

Security No significant infections or security breaches detected.

Disposal Both the 4000se and 4000fx have been dismantled and WEEE is awaiting disposal. 12 CRT monitors were disposed via the safety office to make space to house the cleaner Vince Bennett in the IT store room (in addition to Ashley Brown). Next disposal due over summer vacation.

Software Decided not to renew Windows Fortran compiler. Major works on replacing the MRBS room booking system with Scientia timetabling system ready for the start of Trinity Term. Signed zero-cost software license agreement for MTM-FHM from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Origin 9.0 is now available and PJW is organising purchase of university site license renewal for August.

Disaster Recovery and Backup
2013-04-30 Virtualized cluster failover pair of file servers both crashed at 6.30pm. Files were unavailable to users until system became operational again around 10.30am.
2013-04-15 Eduroam wireless access points corrupt firmware downloaded. Wireless was unavailable for several hours while all access points were reconfigured.

New Device registrations Feb: 14; Mar: 12; Apr 13;


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Tuesday 7th May 2013 in the PR Meeting Room. The following people attended: PJW, CA, RT, SCB, JRY, PE, AL
Apologies: Alana Davies, Khalid Schofield, [Simon Benjamin left early]

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

PJW reported the Rob Saunders will start work next week, replacing Alex Cock.

Committee membership was reviewed. Richard Turner, Phil Edmondson and Kumar Sundaram agreed to serve on the committee for another year. Simon Benjamin agreed to server on the committee for another two years.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

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

a) *IT disaster recovery plans (Minute 2a)
Documentation is gradually being expanded and will expand further with the arrival and training of Rob Saunders.

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 defines and procedures to recover services written. .

Action: PJW

b) *Podcasting (Minute 2b)
SCB has the video files for Sabina Caneva’s PartII talk last year but we need an mechanism for annually paying someone to generate a podcast video of the prize winning Part II and graduate presentations. PJW will arrange recording of this year’s winner Lucy Durrans via OUCS.

Action: PJW/SCB

c) *PC maintenance – OUCS computer hardware breakdown service (Minute 2c)

A process is still required for (automatic?) notification of owners that their warranty is due to expire and directing them to the IT services hardware breakdown scheme if warranty is required – such as for laptops. (No progress)

Action: PJW/CA

d) *IT strategic plan (Minute 2d)
PJW still needs to rework the draft strategy document into a questionnaire. (No progress)

Action: PJW/APD

e) Server Infrastructure upgrade (Minute 2e)

All user data was migrated off Materials0 onto the new virtualized infrastructure on 17th March 2013. The migration went well and for many users the migration was seamless, however not all users read the email notification message and we periodically get requests from confused users unable to connect to Materials0.

One problem affecting users is that when uploading files via secure shell if the file does not already exist on the server the file transfer fails to complete and the client reports an error, however repeating the upload (now that the file already exists) works properly. IT staff have as yet been unable to find a solution for this problem. Access to files via windows sharing and web netstorage and Novell core protocol all works fine.

AMC is now working on migrating the non-user data (e.g. applications) such that the old server can be safely turned off.

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) Draft Information Security Policy (Minute 3b)
PJW prepared a one page summary of ITC advice for DC.

DC appointed PJW as the Departmental Information Security Officer (DISO), responsible for managing Information Security within the Department of Materials. Other staff members specifically identified as being well placed to help PJW with the formulation of a Departmental Information Security Policy were: APD (administrative and personnel information), AOT (student information), JRY( college tutor information, research information ), JAAC (research information, experience with ISO certification standards).

PJW presented a brief action plan for developing the required Department Information Security Policy. DC were keen that PJW should simplify the process for staff to supply details about their information assets (e.g. short questionnaire) and that PJW should provide clear guidance to staff about best practice information handling. Kay Davies to assist collating data.

Action: PJW

h) *Finances (Minute 5)
PJW to circulate financial breakdown for 2011-2012 to the committee. (No progress)

Action: PJW

i) *Java Security (Minute 6a)
PJW emailed all users in March concerning repeated problems with security of Java. The advice was for java to be uninstalled from computers unless knowingly needed. In addition PJW reviewed Java usage throughout the department and proactively removed very old versions of java and updated more recent versions of java (since there is no simple mechanism for automatically uninstalling all instances of java so most intervention was manual). There are bound to be vulnerable versions of java still in use around the department however the majority of systems were upgraded. A second reminder email was circulated in May.

j) *EM bookings (Minute 6b)
PJW EG reported that JCCG had requested the equipment booking system be modified to incorporate an instrument status traffic light scheme indicating whether the instrument was fully functional or not. PJW is already working on re-writing the booking system and will attempt to incorporate such a feature. (No progress)

Action: PJW

3 Matters for Discussion

PJW presented a one page discussion document summarising planning for XP end-of-life in April 2014.

PJW high-lighted that there are about 316 department owned networked computers running XP that need to be upgraded to windows7 or replaced or decommissioned. (Probably 50% upgrade and 50% to replace/decommission).

PJW noted that only a handful of research groups had responded to the notification in January and the offer of help assessing implications for next year’s budget. PJW reported that plans has been formulated for desktop upgrades in the Teaching Laboratory but there are insufficient funds to replace the laptops. PJW will present this information to DC.

Action: PJW

4. Head of IT Report
A written report was circulated with the agenda.

5. Finances
No information was presented.

6. AOB
No matters arising.

7. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting is on Tuesday 29th Oct 2013 at 11am in PR meeting room.
The meeting closed at 12.00pm.