IT Support Policy

This document is intended to outline the policy used by departmental IT support staff to prioritise requests for support, given limited time and resources.

Statement on IT support from the Department IT Strategy Document:

The Department will provide such support and advice on specific IT problems as is possible, but can not provide full-time computer support across the whole range of the Department's activities. The Department IT Support Policy outlines the prioritization of support requests, given limited time and resources. Where department IT staff are unable to provide specific support, support should be sought from OUCS or elsewhere. Individuals should ensure that any critical IT resources (including software, if applicable) are covered by appropriate maintenance and support contracts. Individuals specifying new IT systems should budget for support time and costs.

Requests for IT support will be prioritised (highest priority first) according to the following categories:

Department-wide IT Facilities

  1. Network infrastructure
  2. Administration network
  3. Teaching laboratory network
  4. Central department facilities
  5. Materials Modelling Laboratory

Individual and Group IT Facilities

  1. Antivirus protection and disinfection
  2. Network configuration
  3. Hardware faults
  4. Purchasing advice
  5. Software (re)installation and configuration

Personal IT equipment

Support for Department Retirees


Department-wide IT Facilities

1) Network Infrastructure

Top priority for IT support is the provision of a fast secure network infrastructure. Specific tasks include:

  • Monitoring of all network devices in order to detect and respond to faults
  • Monitoring of all network traffic using a firewall for network security
  • Modifying and extending the network infrastructure. Most work can be carried out in-house. Large rewiring changes use outside contractors.
  • Upgrading the existing network infrastructure as and where necessary.
  • Adding or modifying the configuration of all devices attached to the network. Users are reminded of the IT rules stating that they must not make or modify network connections without permission from IT support staff.

The department network consists of the following hardware:

  • ~45 network switches and hubs distributed over 8 buildings
  • ~1000 ports linking an average of 500-600 computers or printers each day

2) Administration Network

Second priority for IT support is the provision of the Administration Network, a fileserver to support the department's core administration staff. The Administration Network is fully the responsibility of IT support staff.
Specific tasks include:

  • Software and hardware purchasing, installation, and configuration;
  • Software and hardware troubleshooting;
  • Fileserver and user management;
  • Antivirus protection, backup and archiving;
  • Advice on software usage and sources of training;

3) Teaching Laboratory Network

Third priority for IT support is provision of the Teaching Laboratory Network, a fileserver to support the department's core teaching activities. Technical support is mainly the responsibility of IT support staff, however the Teaching Lab Technician can provide limited user support.
Specific tasks include:

  • Software and hardware purchasing, installation, and configuration;
  • Software and hardware troubleshooting
  • Fileserver and user management;
  • Antivirus protection and backup;

Resources available current consist of :

  • 1 fileserver
  • 16 computers in the computer room
  • 6 optical microscope computers
  • 6 laptop computers for experiments
  • 2 printers, 1 scanner

The teaching network is funded from central departmental IT budget. Currently there is a rolling replacement scheme of 4 computers per year (excludes microscopes and laptops).

Any member of department may have an account upon request however the network is primarily for undergraduate students. Other graduate students and research staff are expected to have access to computing facilities within their own Research Groups.

4) Central Department Facilities

Fourth priority for IT support is provision of the centrally funded general purpose IT facilities. IT support staff will cover the following:

  • Software and hardware purchasing, installation, and configuration;
  • Software and hardware troubleshooting
  • Advice on imaging and presentations
  • Advice on on-line library resources (also ask Librarian)

i) Digital Printroom

  • 2 computers
  • 1 scanner
  • 1 solid wax printer for high color density printing of transparencies
  • 1 colour laserprinter (capable of A3 and doublesided)

ii) Lecture theatres and meeting rooms

  • Hume-Rothery Lecture theatre: 2 dataprojectors; 2 computers; smartboard, visualizer
  • 21 Banbury Road Lecture theatre: 2 dataprojectors; 1 computer; sympodium; visualizer
  • ETB committee room: 2 dataprojectors; 1 computer; smartboard; visualizer
  • BR committee room: 1 dataprojector; 1 computer; sympodium; visualizer
  • HR meeting room: 50" plasma display; 1 computer
  • PR QIPIRC meeting room: 1 dataprojector; 1 computer; videoconferencing
  • RR MML meeting room: 1 dataprojector; (1 netbook)
  • BB Yarnton meeting room: 1 dataprojector; 1 computer

The department also has a laptop, webcam, portable dataprojector and Polycom confernence phone available from Reception(central site) and a portable dataprojector available from Faraday Centre (Begbroke site).

iii) Department Library

  • 2 computers in central library

5) Materials Modelling Laboratory

The Department has a central modelling laboratory. This facility is funded as a research group (not from central funds), however the computing facilities are available to all members of department. IT support is provided by the Senior IT officer (35%time).
Specific tasks include:

  • Software and hardware purchasing, installation, and configuration;
  • Software and hardware troubleshooting
  • Advice on modelling

See the MML website for more information on how to make use of these high-level computing facilities. http://mml.materials.ox.ac.uk


Individual and Group IT Facilities

Support for department-owned individual and group IT facilities is generally lower priority than support for department-wide IT facilities. Requirements vary from group to group and individual to individual, however IT support staff will endeavour to be equitable. IT support staff will prioritise according to the following categories:

  1. Antivirus protection and disinfection
  2. Network configuration
  3. Hardware faults
  4. Purchasing advice
  5. Software (re)installation and configuration

1) Antivirus protection and disinfection

Antivirus protection is increasingly important. IT support staff run centrally administered automatic updating Sophos antivirus software on all department machines. Contact IT support staff if you discover that your computer is infected and we will help you disinfect.

2) Network configuration

Users are not allowed to add or modify network connections without permission. Contact IT support staff for all queries or requests concerning the network.

3) Purchasing advice

Individual or group computing resources for personal or research use must, in general, be funded from research grants. Since IT support staff attempt to provide support for any computer (subject to prioritisation), all purchase orders for IT equipment are vetted by IT support staff before financial authorisation by the Financial administrator. Contact IT support staff to discuss your requirements for new hardware and software and for selection advice taking into account our ability to support the purchase. Guidance will also be provided, such that the best use is made of existing Departmental and University infrastructure. The department carries stock of recommended desktop PC’s and network laser printers.

4) Hardware failures

IT support staff will attempt to provide technical assistance in the event of hardware failures, however individuals should ensure that any critical IT resources (including software, if applicable) are covered by appropriate maintenance and support contracts. OUCS provide a PC maintenance scheme at a reduced rate.

5) Software (re)installation and configuration

Since IT support staff do not centrally administer individual or group computers, the correct configuration of software is primarily the responsibility of the main user of the computer. It is recommended that group leaders appoint a group member to act as the administrator of all the group computers. IT support staff will provide advice on how to maintain and (re)configure individual or group computers.


Personal IT equipment

IT equipment not owned by the department is not supported. However, where non-department equipment is being used for department business, then IT staff will carry out an initial assessment and provide advice about how best to resolve the problem. Any assessment or subsequent work carried-out will be scheduled at lower priority than support for department-owned equipment.


Support for Departmental Retirees

Support for Departmental Retirees is generally lower priority than support for department-wide IT facilities and support for individual and group IT facilities.

(In order to obtain the university card status Retiree, the applicant has to be in receipt of a university USS or OSPS pension and has to be recommended by the Department Administrator usually on the basis of the person continuing to provide service or benefit to the Department or University.)

OUCS provide email to Retirees and is therefore the first point of contact for queries. Site licensed software from OUCS is available to Retirees. Central department funds will not be used to purchase or replace IT equipment for retirees unless sanctioned by the Administrator, however retirees shall considered when reallocating redundant equipment for use in the Department. Requests for consumables and printing will be considered on an ad-hoc basis by IT staff.

Revised 11th May 2010
P.J. Warren (Senior IT officer)