View from the Director’s Chair, August 2012

You may have spotted that I missed my last blog in July. The reason was that I spent the first two weeks of the month in Cornwall enjoying a very relaxing holiday and missing much of the rain which, I was told, had fallen on Reading! Whilst there wasn’t enough sun to give me a proper tan (or tempt me into the sea), I did return to work feeling duly refreshed and re-energized. In fact I was so relaxed that I forgot my blog!

In my June entry I reported that Mark Cockshoot was about to leave us for Heriot-Watt University. Mark’s last day with us will be Friday 24th August and we will be holding an informal lunch in ITS on Thursday 23rd to say a proper farewell to him.

I’m very pleased to say that we have appointed a successor to Mark who, I am sure, will carry on the excellent work of leading the development and support of our core systems and communications infrastructure. Tony Brett, who currently works for Oxford University Computing Services, will be joining us as the new Assistant Director for Systems and Communications, on 29th October and will be a very welcome addition to our team.

As expected, the summer period has been far from quiet in IT Services, with lots of jobs scheduled which are not normally possible during term time. Amongst these is a series of significant upgrades to our equipment and services, including a much-needed set of 15 additional WiFi access points for the Library. Each WiFi point is now connected at Gigabit speed back to the campus network, ensuring better sharing of network capacity between users. We have also installed new video conferencing facilities in Whiteknights House, driven in part by the need for better communications between our Malaysian offices and Reading. Further installations are being planned.

I almost forgot to write this entry due to a major fault on our core data network, which led to an “interesting” and challenging day on 14 August.  The nature of the fault was an obscure hardware component failure which took many hours of diagnosis by our Network Manager (Andy Gatward), our network support provider and the hardware manufacturer. I was very relieved to learn that the problem was finally diagnosed and fixed at around midnight last night. Had it continued, the impact on many services would have been severe. Somehow Andy still managed to come into work at the normal time this morning despite his late-night efforts. I must find out what kind of coffee he drinks!

Best wishes to all those who are about to take their holiday.



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