Event Report: UCISA London Group meeting on 18th October 2017

Overview

This was the fifth meeting of the UCISA London Group. The event was hosted by WMC – The Camden College and it followed the usual format, opening with registration and a networking lunch followed by 4 agenda sessions comprising 3 presentations and one facilitated discussion session with an additional networking break halfway through the presentation sessions. The meeting was well attended by representatives of member institutions, HE & FE, members of the LMN Board, Jisc representatives and representatives from University of London’s CoSector who were sponsors for the day.

Summary

1. Consultation session on developing the Jisc DDoS mitigation service (to protect web platforms and email) by Tim Boundy and Nelson Ody, Jisc

Tim and Nelson introduced this service from the Jisc along side existing services such as PEN testing, Security Costs X-Ray (new service, not yet launched), Cyber Security Assessment and Cyber Essentials (but not the Advanced Cyber Essentials service). There is a version of the service that is live right now. Phase 2 of the service is split into Connection Attack Mitigation where they focus on attacks on the institutional network externally and Service Attack Mitigation where the focus is now on specific services inside the institutional network.

The connection attack mitigation service is the foundation level and every Janet connected site gets it as part of their Jisc membership, but the service attack mitigation service will be chargeable based on services using pre-configured profiles for internal services like email, web servers, dns, etc. Being in development stage, Tim and Nelson made a call for volunteers to get involved and make some contribution to the development process. Tim and Nelson also spoke about providing a Portal to institutions to show the work and value of Jisc security services, provide real time intelligence on alerts, attacks and mitigations and provide network-wide perspective on threats, frequency and impact of attacks. The service is proposed to be launched around February 2018, volunteers are needed to help shape the development of the service.

See the presentation slides …

2. Facilitated discussion on merging of systems by Bernard Aghedo, UCISA

Bernard expertly led and facilitated the discussions on merging of systems when whole college institutions merge or when faculties/departments /teams within a university merge. Looking at the benefits of merging systems, delegates contributed generously to the discussions. There was a specific example of a departmental merger where IT and Library services had merged and the challenges and issues that arose because of the merger. Another example was about three departments that had merged within a university where there the result has been more positive than negative as there were no loss of jobs or personnel. However, there was consensus that mergers are usually driven by the need to save costs though it may not be expressly declared at the outset of the merger process.

See the presentation slides …

3. Business and technology transformation at the University of London by Steve Knibbs and Jane McQuilkin, CoSector

Steve and Jane gave an excellent presentation on the positive business and technology transformation at the university of London when three departments — ULCC, Careers and Housing — merged into what is now called CoSector. Steve gave the drivers for the project as the need to release academic space, provide an effective workspace for staff, enable staff to work in a way that both meets the needs of the university and staff themselves, improve communication and collaboration between departments, etc. They did the project moving away from fixed desk sitting space with fixed pc/laptop owner configuration to an open plan, flexible, mobile, with multiple screen configuration, using Microsoft Surface Pro 4 such that anyone can sit anywhere to work. There are open break out sitting areas for one to one meetings, breakout rooms and quiet space to work in as well as a canteen. Several new technologies have been introduced as well. Overall, the result has been very good. Steve and Jane ended the presentation on a high note by inviting everyone to visit them to see what they were talking about.

See the presentation slides …

4. King’s and the RAID of doom by Trevor Baxter, Director of IT
Solutions, KCL

Trevor gave an excellent presentation using a media rich presentation complete with audio, video and pictures. Exactly a year and one day on the day, they suffered a major data storage outage arising from memory issues with a RAID card. When the memory in the card could not be exchanged by the support company it was decided that the card should be replaced and when that was done, the outage happened leading to loss of so much data. The road to recovery was long and hard given the time it took for them to complete the recovery process and come back to business as usual, as they had to go back to old tape backups having lost almost everything. However, the recovery process showed that there was significant amount of data with no owners, so on the positive side, they where able to do a sort of data housekeeping to know what data to keep as data owners were identified and of course they learnt several lessons on the way.

See the presentation slides …

Conclusion

The meeting was another great opportunity for institutional representatives to meet, share, dialogue and network. The format for the day worked well for all, the topics of presentation were all well received, and delegates participated in discussions and the question and answers that followed each presentation. However, turnout from the FE community was not as good when compared with turnout at previous events.

UCISA is grateful to all the delegates, presenters and our sponsor for the day, CoSector, for helping to make it happen! The next meeting is on
Wednesday 22nd November at Queen Mary University of London .

Bernard Aghedo
London Liaison Officer (Part-time)
UCISA