Home » IT Services News » IT Services News No. 196 (Dec 2018) » SMARTER@HKU IT Developments in Full Gear

SMARTER@HKU IT Developments in Full Gear

  1. Progress
  2. Upcoming Training Sessions
  3. Latest Information on SMARTER@HKU IT Developments

Further to our report in the last issue of ITS News, ITS has been working in full momentum with the SMARTER IT Organization & Processes (ITOP) Task Force to prepare for the implementation of the five IT developments for bringing institutional efficiency gains to departments initiated under the SMARTER@HKU programme.  

I. Progress

We are happy to highlight the progress to-date on these five IT developments:

1. Virtual Personal Computer (VPC)

Personal Computers (PCs) are the main productivity drivers in modern workforce.  The ITOP Task Force survey revealed that the management of PCs is the heaviest duty of departmental IT staff. 

The centrally managed Virtual Personal Computers (VPCs), provisioned with a standard suite of office workforce productivity tools, can relieve the burden of PC hardware and software management at department level.  The benefits include:

  • VPC is ready through plug-and-play, eliminate the need of PC disk image cloning  
  • improved PC security as patching of operating systems and software packages is centrally applied 
  • reduced total cost of ownership in PC management
  • greener IT environment with less electricity consumption
  • saving in desktop area as a VPC box is much than a physical PC box

This development aims at supporting general computing needs in departments with the first phase targeted for use by the administrative and clerical staff.

This project is well-received by departments.  Up to now, we received applications from 23 departments requesting more than 200 VPC boxes in total.  Most departments are requesting the VPC boxes for use by a few designated colleagues to try out this new facility before a wider scale of deployment.  Valuable feedback is received and we will keep on overcoming the teething problems for improved user experience.   

2. Cloud-based Website Content Management System (CMS)

Development and maintenance of departmental websites is ranked the third high frequency IT tasks in the ITOP Task Force survey. 

This development can

  • address the common needs of departments in website setup and maintenance
  • achieve cost savings through a centrally coordinated and shared website service
  • reduce manpower and lead time required in website support in departments
  • provide an option for use by departments to easily build or revamp their websites

Hands-on training workshops are continuously arranged starting from October 2018.   Around 100 colleagues from different departments attended our workshops and more classes will be arranged in January and February 2019 to ensure colleagues can equip themselves with the knowledge and skills to set up a stunning website using Wix on their own.

Besides, we keep on enhancing the contents of our training site (https://cms.its.hku.hk) to provide more useful materials for departments to get started in using Wix.  Handy support service is also provided to departments whenever they encounter problems in setting up the Wix website.

3. Common Facilities Booking System (HKUFBS)

The HKUFBS offers departments a new platform that can streamline and automate the operations and management of their facilities bookings.  It is a web-based general purpose booking system which provides easy management of booking facilities.  Departments can configure the systems to meet their needs such as bookable department facilities, booking rules and user groups.  Users, including students and staff, can search and book the available facilities in their departments through HKU Portal.

The HKUFBS was first rolled out in mid-June 2018 with a few pilot departments. 2 briefing sessions on the use of HKUFBS have been arranged in November 2018 and were attended by around 80 colleagues.  

With the feedback from the pilot departments and a few more interested departments, a new release of the HKUFBS with additional functions was rolled out in mid-November 2018.  Sixteen departments have registered to use HKUFBS so far, most of them still under the setup/configuration stage.  It is expected that some of these departments will put the HKUFBS in use by early 2019.   

4. Common Standards for Audio-Visual Facilities (AVS)

Acquisition, operation and maintenance of audio-visual (AV) equipment is a common task in the departments. This project is to provide an easy-to-use and cost-effective solution to address the common needs of departments in setting up and maintaining AV facilities. 

The benefits are:

  • Volume discount and reduced overhead with bulk purchase of equipment
  • Centralized monitoring and remote support of AV facilities following the standards
  • Standardized training and technical support
  • Enhanced user experience with consistency
  • Better planning in AV system replacement cycle down to equipment level

The coverage of this project includes:

  • central tender exercises and prices of the standardized common AV equipment (projectors, projector lamps, wireless microphones and visualizers) for departments’ ease of reference (tender prices have been posted on HKU Portal and FEO’s website on Annual/Term Tenders)
  • guidelines and standard procedures to facilitate University central/departments in setting up rooms with AV facilities (see HKU Learning Space Design Guidelines and Standards)

2 briefing sessions on “Introduction to Audio-Visual Standard (AVS) for Learning Space Development” and “Digital Video Principles and Application in Classrooms” were arranged in October and December 2018 to let departments understand what AVS is and how it helps departments in managing the audio-visual facilities and setting up in their meeting and learning spaces.  Another training session will be arranged in January 2019.

5. University-wide Deployment of ITS Cloud

Back in 2011, ITS had set up a private cloud infrastructure and provided the ITS Cloud service, an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), to departments on a cost recovery subscription basis in an attempt to consolidate IT infrastructure and reduce burden of departmental IT staff on server infrastructure management.  Throughout the years, ITS Cloud service gradually gains acceptance that about 200 active virtual machines (VMs) are subscribed at present and many are for mission critical applications.  In addition, the ITS Cloud service has also been extended to Network Attached Storage (NAS) and rack space subscription to match users’ demands.

This project is to intensify the service and promote the ITS Cloud.  ITS will continue to enhance the ITS Cloud to reduce the duplicated efforts in setting up the physical servers and computer room facilities at department level. A self-service portal has been rolled out in July 2018 so that a virtual server can be set up quickly in a day.  Starting in January 2019, departments can access the self-service portal at https://itscloud.hku.hk to request a cloud server with 2 virtual CPUs, 4GB memory and 100GB disk storage supported by central funding.  Departments can attend the two briefing sessions to be arranged in January 2019 to find out more about this project. 

II. Upcoming Training Sessions

Training sessions will continue be arranged to let colleagues understand the coverage of these 5 new IT developments.  Besides, through these trainings, colleagues will be able to equip themselves with the necessary skillsets to ensure they can make the best use of these projects to increase their operational efficiency.

The upcoming training sessions are tabulated below:

1. Workshop on Cloud-based Website Content Management System (CMS)

Date

Time

Venue

Registration link

17 Jan 2019 (Thu)

2:30         pm – 5:30 pm

Room 110, 1/F,
Knowles Building

Register

23 Jan 2019 (Wed)

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Room 110, 1/F,
Knowles Building

Register

20 Feb 2019 (Wed)

2:30 pm – 5:30 pm

Room 110, 1/F,
Knowles Building

Register

2. Training Session on Audio Digital Signal Processing Setup and Calibration in Classrooms

Date

Time

Venue

Registration link

7 Jan 2019 (Mon)

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

KB223,
Knowles Building

Register

3. Training Session on University-wide ITS Cloud Deployment 

Date

Time

Venue

Registration link

8 Jan 2019 (Tue)

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Room 110, 1/F,
Knowles Building

Register

29 Jan 2019 (Tue)

9:30 am – 12:30 pm

Room 110, 1/F,
Knowles Building

Register

All colleagues are welcome to join the above training sessions. 

III. Latest Information on SMARTER@HKU IT Developments

Please visit our website at http://www.its.hku.hk/SMARTER-IT for the latest information and training sessions about these SMARTER IT developments.

In case you have any feedback or questions on the above 5 IT developments, please feel free to contact the undersigned. 

 

Margaret Chung & M C Pong
Co-leaders of ITOP Task Force
Tel: 3549 5595 & 3917 6232
Email: mchung@hku.hk & mcpong@hku.hk