University of Otago

University of Otago

2007 ranking: 4

Senior IS executive: Mike Harte, director, information technology services

Reports to: Chief operating officer

Size of IS shop: 250

PCs: 12,000

Mobile PCs: 2000

Terminals: 0

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

mobile services.

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.

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