Oxford Materials IT Committee Meeting


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Monday 11th May 2015 in the ETB Committee Room.


  • 1 Apologies for absence and Membership of the Committee
  • 2 Matters outstanding from the previous meeting
  • 3 Matters for discussion (attached)
  • 4 Head of IT report (attached)
  • 5 Finances
  • 6 AOB
  • 7 Date and time of next meeting: Tuesday 27th October 2015 at 11am in ETB Committee Room


See minutes below.


Verbal reports on the status of various projects:
IT services projects: RDM, TONE, Chorus, ISP, Innovation seedfund
Departmental projects: Photocopiers, GreenImpact,
Information from other Committees: MPLS ICT Panel, Divisional Software Licensing Group


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.

Personnel: Khalid Schofield resigned in March. A job description for a replacement has been drafted and will be advertised in due course. Furthermore a job description for an IT apprentice has been drafted and is seeking funding approval from DC. Alex continues to provide support remotely.

Admin Network Replacement desktops were installed for Jane Foxall, Rebecca Bradford, Debbie Townsend and Ian Sutton. Still due to replace desktops for Philippa Moss and Ashley Brown. New surfacepro for Adrian Taylor.

Teaching LaboratoryFour new desktops were rolled into the computer room. All teaching lab computer systems have been replaced within the past two years.

Lecture theatres / meeting rooms MML course in BRCR was cleared-up and the 23 computers returned to storage. The short throw data projector in BRCR was replaced. New wipe-able projection boards (1.5m x 2m) were installed in BRCR and BRLT. Five computers were replaced (HRLTx2/BRLT/BRCR/ETBCR). The new meeting room in Rex Richards for the Peter Bruce was completed and is operational. The video conference system in BRLT was used several times. There are still plans for Skype functionality in ETBCR and BRCR plus electronic display board for visitors both in HR reception and also at Begbroke.

Digital Print-room No significant changes or issues.

Library The self-issue system still needs upgrading. The self-issue monitor failed and was replaced. The wireless access point failed and a new system is being implemented.

MML Rothery2 server is still awaiting decommissioning (need to liaise with users of the intel compiler license). Zener is still awaiting reinstallation. Ironman node 30 was repaired but ironman continues to have issues.

FIM A couple of new computers. Plans for replacement of image acquisition computer on old 3DAP. Also GDWS to get replacement laptop.

EM WinSCP+putty needs rolling out across the department to replace Secure Shell client.

MFFP Yet another failed disk replaced in the TJM storage array. Abaqus upgraded to 6.14-2. Reinstalled oums-ajwhpcgpu. Monthly patching and rebooting of 13 systems and storage arrays.

OMCS New D8 XRD system. Private networking of lab containing DSC/DTA/TGA. Jenni left.

Rex Richards / Peter Bruce Group There is still a stream of requests supporting this big new group. Salto door entry system still needs fixing to work with university cards rather than separate cards.

Website CMSmadesimple upgraded to 1.12 for all sites. MFFP site needs migrating to drupal 7.

Publications 3 sets of business cards. Printed handbooks for accreditation panel. Weekly editing of Departmental Newsletter. Signage and posterboards for opendays, PBH meeting.

Network A replacement network monitoring server (netmon) was implemented running Nagios, icinga2 and opennms. The old server (netman) needs decommissioning. Network outage on bank holiday weekend due to power outage.

Security Cotswold security scheduled to implement door access controller for Kemet laboratory. Oxcert have released 37 security bulletins since the last meeting including further SSL vulnerabilities. There have been a handful of browser-hijacks. IT staff have dealt with one time-consuming security issue. Passwords have been changed due to a change in IT staffing.

WDE Still only six user’ devices encrypted – need to expand uptake targeting senior staff.

Disposal 50+ units are still awaiting WEEE disposal scheduled for June 26th.

Software New Topspin license server licenses for Ola Hekselman. New Comsol module licenses for CFD, Particle tracing and Non-linear structural mechanics for Jonathan Yates. New Origin2015 to be rolled out. New Altiris deployment server (oums-roman) has been implemented for managing all end-user systems. All software deployment scripts have been migrated and tested. Old management server (oums-nomad) needs decommissioning.

Disaster Recovery and Backup Numerous disk fails have occurred and data has been recovered or restored from backups. Significant one were the servers enigma2 and mims-server.

Documentation updates Documentation on the private Mediawiki continues to expand, but time for documentation has been limited due to being short staffed.

New people & accounts February: 5; March 5; April 3;

New Device registrations February: 18; March 12; April 13;


A meeting of the Department of Materials IT Committee was held at 11am on Monday 11th May 2015 in the ETB Committee Room. The following people attended: APD, PJW, RS, CA, RT, JRY, Andy Naylor, Karwei So

1. Apologies for Absence and Membership of the Committee

Simon Benjamin and Lewys Jones were out of the country.

Flynn Castles missed the meeting unexpectedly.

Andy Naylor was welcomed to the committee as a post-doc representing the PGB group.

Karwei So was welcomed taking over from Jing Hu as JCCG representative.

2. Matters arising from the minutes

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

a) Photocopying and Printing (Minute 2b)
The printers on the old print server have been redirected to the new print server which triggered clients to automatically uninstall their old printers and automatically install their new printers. Generally it went smoothly except for missing drivers affecting Mac users. The old print server will be decommissioned.

b) *Draft Information Security Policy (Minute 2c)
Again there has been little opportunity to progress towards formalising the departmental Information Security Policy for approval by the ITC and subsequently DC. However PJW noted that the ISP documentation and toolkit has evolved considerably over the last few months and PJW is keen to revisit implementing a departmental IS policy.

Action: PJW

c) XP end of life (Minute 2d)
As of 11th May there are only 6 XP systems on the public network. [XRD2 is being decomissioned soon, the D5000 will be replaced soon, the library self-issue computer will be replaced soon, the three systems making up the JEOL6480 microscope cannot be taken offline]. This task is effectively complete.

d) Office2003 end of life (Minute 2e)
As of 11th May only 16 computers are still running Office2003 of which only 3 are on the public network. The final 3 [libraryselfissue, Jeol6480, D5000] will be decommissioned soon. This task is effectively complete.

e) Hotdesk provision for Begbroke users visiting central site (Minute 6a)
A “hotdesk” computer has been added to the library – running Novell login authentication using departmental username/password and also configured for printing to the Hume-Rothery 5550 printer on the top floor.

f) Apple TV (Minute 6c)
SCB asked whether it would be possible for the AppleTV+wirelessrouter used to connect to the data projector in the PR meeting room to be given internet access. No solution was provided. University IT rules make it difficult to allow bridging of generically-authenticating wireless access onto department network.

3 Matters for Discussion

a) Verbal update on various projects

PJW updated the committee verbally upon the status of the following projects:

  • RDM http://researchdata.ox.ac.uk ESPRC guidelines on publishing all research data came into force on 15th May 2015. There was a presentation to senior staff in 0th week. It is unclear whether publications since 15th May have actually adhered to these requirements. The university policy only requires publication of data supporting the publication itself (graphs, images, databases etc) rather than all the underlying raw and analysed data for a research project.
  • TONE – replacement backbone network to be implemented by end June 2015. Migration of all buildings and replacement of all FroDo units by April 2016. http://projects.it.ox.ac.uk/tone/ This department has been surveyed and will have new fibre laid soon. Ultimately there will be no effect upon end-user service provision since the Department will remain at 1Gb backbone connection.
  • Chorus – the new telephone system is undergoing acceptance testing and a pilot test although delayed has now started. http://projects.it.ox.ac.uk/icp/ This is a big project involving revamping all phones within the Department. The new phone system is number-per-person and a software based system which can redirect phonecalls to any number of devices (phone, computer, smartphone etc) and will require a change in user interaction. In addition the project will force significant upgrade and expansion of the Department network as the phone network is converged with the data network. See newletters http://projects.it.ox.ac.uk/icp/newsletter
  • Innovation Seed Fund – Browse and contribute at https://oxfordideas.wazoku.com/. The second round has just closed. [Topics: curriculum, engagement, research excellence, research management]. PJW is keeping a watching brief and will alert members of department as considered necessary.
  • C3E – the university has been reviewing what might be involved if the university were to move to cloud based email solution (e.g. outlook.com / gmail.com) as opposed to replacing Nexus in-house. The report and recommendations are available at https://sharepoint.nexus.ox.ac.uk/sites/itservices/c3e The on-premises solution was rated top although several cloud options stood out for further investigation. Legal issues over information security for cloud storage remain significant.

Departmental projects:

  • Photocopiers – Les Chorley and APD and PJW are working towards taking out a new photocopier support contract, getting replacement colour photocopiers with networked print-on-release functionality.
  • iLab – The system has been running for several months. APD noted the need to talk with iLab about futher refinement of reporting and the need for collecting actual usage data. [APD requested PJW keep reporting upon iLab at ITC]
  • GreenImpact – the GreenImpact team submitted the workbook on the 17th April and we are awaiting auditing for Bronze and possibly Silver award.

Information from other committees:

  • MPLS ICT panel – the Hilary Term meeting was dominated by presentation about the EPSRC Research Data Management deadline on 15th May.
  • Divisional Software Licensing Group - Office365 Pro Plus (including 1Tb onedrive storage) is now available for free for upto 5 machines for all staff and students as per http://help.it.ox.ac.uk/shop/downloads Adobe have changed licensing CS6 is no-longer available however Adobe creative cloud licensing (time-limited, named-user or named-device licenses) are available from the IT services online shop on a sliding price scale based around renewal each October. http://help.it.ox.ac.uk/shop/index

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

5. *Finances
No information was presented at the meeting. Paul urgently needs to journal costs for stock computers from August onwards.

6. AOB

a) Office2013 for Admin
APD asked whether Office2013 could be rolled out more widely. PJW to investigate compatibility with central university systems such as macros in R12 reports.

Action: PJW

7. Date of Next Meeting
The next meeting is Tuesday 27th October 2015 at 11am in ETB Committee Room.

The meeting closed at 12.05pm.