Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Centralising your IT support - thoughts from the JISC Conference

Last Tuesday the NGS was out on the road with an exhibition stand at the JISC Future of Research conference which was held in London and online.

As well as speaking to delegates browsing the exhibition stands, I also went to some very interesting parallel sessions. The first session I attended was “Centralising your IT Support for Research” and consisted of 3 presentations including Mary Visser, Director of IT from the University of Leicester. Mary talked about how researchers want “free at point of use” as funders are unwilling to pay FEC for these, seeing IT as basic facilities which should be provided by the institution. Leicester currently have an IT research liaison manager who speaks to researchers about their IT needs and provides guidance and advice about local and national resources. Sounds like something that many of our users would like!

Mary’s presentation for a centralised IT support service was countered by Rob Procter from Manchester e-Research Centre who argued the case for more distributed IT provision within schools and departments. Rob pointed out that many researchers do not trust IT services to provide what they need as they are teaching focused with most of their effort going in this direction rather than towards research. Robs argument for embedding IT staff in departments is certainly one I’ve heard many times before and I’ve also seen some very good results and collaborations come out of these situations.

Here at the NGS we realise that not all universities have IT services that can help with grid computing or even the use of computing in research. The NGS can’t have technical staff based in every institution in the country but we do have a variety of means to try and help from afar.

Check this list to see if you have a local Campus Champion who can provide some advice or support to you in your institution. If you don’t have a Campus Champion, we have our helpdesk where knowledgeable staff can answer your queries by email. We also have a variety of tutorials to talk you through getting started and running jobs. If there is anything else you would find useful regards training material then please let us know!

No comments: