Senior IS executive: Mike Harte, director, information technology services
Reports to: Chief operating officer
Size of IS shop: 250
Mobile PCs: 2000
Hand-held devices: 300
Total screens: 14,300
Industry: Education services
PC environment: Windows Vista, XP; Mac; Linux; Toshiba; Apple; Dell
Server environment: Novell, Unix, Red Hat Linux, Debian Linux,
Windows, Apple, IBM, HP
DBMS: Oracle, SQL
Address: Leith Street, Dunedin
Key IS projects this year: Enterprise portal; identity management;
information integration; institutional repository; research management
system; second data centre; virtualisation; podcasting; wireless service
for residential colleges; VoIP; e-research.
THE IT TEAM at the University of Otago is in high gear this year, with
numerous new ICT projects including the building of a second data
centre, development of an enterprise portal, an information security
framework and implementation of collaborative technologies to
support e-Research initiatives. A server virtualisation project adds to
the load, as does a demand for podcasting services for teaching and
learning and wireless access for residential colleges.
In 2008 the University will also investigate a VoIP communications
infrastructure to support its ongoing communications strategies.
Director of IT services Mike Harte says all these projects support the
University’s Strategic Direction to 2012.
He says the main challenge for the IT division is that demands are
subtly but steadily growing. The tertiary education environment is
becoming increasingly competitive with increasing demands from
students to be able to use new technologies; and government funding
linked to research outputs demand an increasingly innovative and
progressive environment. Challenges also exist in the area of recruitment
— in particular a shortage of experienced software developers,
database administrators and systems engineers.
Harte says as one of the leading research-led universities in New
Zealand, there are also ongoing challenges around service management,
which includes IT support, delivery, capacity and prioritisation,
and increasing demand for new and improved IT services. IT management
is therefore seeking greater involvement of senior management
in prioritisation of IT work.
In 2007 the University initiated a process seeking ideas from all IT
staff, and a representative group of customers, regarding how the IT
division can be organised to best meet the needs of its customers.
For network connectivity and security, the University is reviewing
identity management and authentication, authorisation and access
processes to the core network and services, particularly as a result of
investigating ‘capability building’ on the KAREN network.
“KAREN is a wonderful tool for research, but a key issue is identity
management. If we want to collaborate across organisations then we
must be part of a federated identity management system, which allows
staff to be authenticated back through their own organisation” says
He says a wireless network launched last year has received positive
feedback from students and will be extended in 2008 for students,
staff and visitors on campus.
The University of Otago has distributed campuses — two sites in
Wellington, one in Christchurch and one in Auckland; and following
the University’s merger with the Dunedin College of Education, there is
now an Invercargill campus. All network traff c between campuses runs
over the high-speed KAREN network. Telecom provides the commodity
internet service and voice and data links with Vodafone providing
Harte says his team has recently implemented a set of mobile
computing solutions for staff to gain access to the network — whether
they are using their own laptop, a PDA or another PC either in New
Zealand or overseas. The university is a light outsourcer, with only host
maintenance and support outsourced to suppliers.