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IT Services News No. 142 Nov-Dec 2009

Message from the Director, Information Technology Services

    1. Increasingly pervasive IT
    2. e-Research Conferences and Web 2.0 tools for researchers
    3. New Associate IT Director
    4. Changed role for Dr P.T. Ho during 2010

1. Increasingly pervasive IT

In November, I had a holiday with some members of my family in Vietnam.  Part of this holiday included three days of mountain bike riding in some quite remote parts of north west Vietnam and included visiting ethnic minority villages and, on one occasion, staying overnight in one of the villages.  The point of mentioning this is to highlight some of the transformative changes taking place as a result of, amongst other things, information and communication technology.  I was advised that some of the villages we visited had only been provided with electricity about three years previously and, around the same time, mobile phone coverage and access to the internet.  I was amazed to find, in villages that still do not even have sanitation, there were many personal computers connected to the Internet.  On one occasion, there were a group of about 12 young children (certainly less than 10 years of age) crowded around three PCs playing games!  You will be pleased to know I was also advised that, in addition to games, the children also accessed education-specific material.  One can only imagine what changes will occur in these “remote” villages as the next generation of children grow and learn in this increasingly connected world and the opportunities that will open to them through, amongst other things, access to technology and the Internet.

2. e-Research Conferences and Web 2.0 tools for researchers

In early December, I attended the international e-Science Conference and the UK e-Science All Hands Meeting (see http://www.escience2009.org/ for more details) held at Oxford University in the UK.  While both these events use the word “e-Science”, they were really e-Research events and they also included presentations that highlighted some of the incredible and innovative use of new technologies in the social sciences, humanities and creative and performing arts.  At the conference, I was exposed to two new online environments that are using Web 2.0 technologies to assist researchers.  These two systems are:

  1. Mendeley (see http://www.mendeley.com/ ); and
  2. myexperiment (see http://www.myexperiment.org/ ).

In collaboration with some HKU researchers, Mr. W.K. Kwan in the High Performance Computing team is now investigating the utility of these two systems.  I encourage members of the research community to have a look at these two systems and to advise Mr Kwan what you think of their value to your research activities.

3. New Associate IT Director

You may be aware that some months back we advertised for an additional Associate IT Director.  While I am not yet in a position to formally announce the successful candidate because of some outstanding administrative matters, I am optimistic that the individual will commence duties in January.  Apart from responsibility for the High Performance Computing and Grid services team that will remain with Dr P.T. Ho, responsibility for Infrastructure (servers, storage, network) and Operations will become the responsibility of the new Associate IT Director.  I expect to be able to provide more comprehensive background information in the next newsletter.

4. Changed role for Dr P.T. Ho during 2010

As I hope you are all well aware, the University is implementing a new HR/Payroll system, a new Student Information System (SIS), and a new Enterprise Portal (EP).  These three systems are all from Oracle/PeopleSoft and are part of a major project.  Three governance bodies has been established with an overarching ERP Project Board (chaired by the Deputy Vice Chancellor), a HR/Payroll Steering Committee (chaired by the PVC (Staffing)), and a SIS Steering Committee (chaired by the PVC (Teaching & Learning)).  During 2010, Dr P.T. Ho, our Deputy Director, will perform a very important coordination role across these three projects.  These new ERP systems require significant coordination across a variety of areas such as (1) infrastructure (servers, storage, network devices), (2) testing (load and user acceptance), (3) data conversion, (4) authentication and portal interfaces, (5) training in new technology, (6) migration planning, and so on.  Dr Ho’s initiate knowledge of the University’s existing infrastructure and key personnel within the university make him an ideal choice to help coordinate the many known, and as yet unknown, issues that will emerge.

As always, please feel free to contact me regarding any important issue that you think I need to be aware of.

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