The Challenges Facing the Head of ICT Service Operations at Imperial College London

Written by Paul Jennings, Head of ICT Service Operations at Imperial College London Published 2016-11-17 13:13:00

I have now been with Imperial College London for just over two years and this is my first venture into the Education sector, and as Head of ICT Service Operations I have a lot of change to deliver.

Imperial College London is reliant on technology to help its employees and students function on a daily basis, ensuring the current provision is future proofed to enable them to continue their valuable work and research is vital. Students and staff are consuming information in a very different way than even a few years ago. The ‘always on’ environment means that applications and devices connected to the network need to be available and working at all times, in order to facilitate this digital transformation.

In my current role I have three key areas of focus:-



One my main responsibilities is to ensure that our ICT staff are supported, valued and developed with the appropriate level of line management to support them. I am planning for Phase I of a restructure for the New Year and looking to plug gaps that currently exist. As a qualified coach I have taken a lot of time to listen to staff to understand their perspective. A SWOT analysis is about to be circulated and staff will be able to nominate the top 5 focus areas for attention.



It’s vital that our processes make for a good customer experience, and that automation can be applied where appropriate.



There are many technology challenges where investment and effort is required, and the priority for me has been to address the data centre landscape first. Historically at Imperial College London, risks have existed whereby both our data centres were sited on the same campus, and did not provide the appropriate power resilience, protection or availability that our IT infrastructure needs. Having designed, commissioned and led on multiple data centre migration projects, in addition to roles in Data Centre Managed Services, I had a look at the market and decided that VIRTUS LONDON4 in Slough, offered the best value to the College. The business case to migrate was approved quickly, new infrastructure was commissioned and one of our data centres was migrated to LONDON4, completing in June 2016. The benefits for Imperial College include an improved offering for availability and we have been impressed with the service thus far. Phase II of the Data Centre Transformation Programme is now approved and the priority is to move all of our core High Performance Computing (HPC) platforms to the Slough facility by June 2017, securing space for research too – the advantage being that this will improve the availability and time to deploy for research, which is a really exciting phase of the project.

I am also leading on the discovery of our services to ascertain the fit with cloud, alongside the implementation of toolsets that allow for improved lifecycle management, automation and reduced provisioning timelines.



In partnership with Jisc, VIRTUS provides a shared Data Centre under a framework agreement that simplifies the procurement process. Jisc’s vision is to create a shared environment, where members can share data sets under one roof, collaborate and ensure the UK is at the forefront of academic and global medical research.

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