University of Maribor Computer Centre (RCUM) has been providing comprehensive IT support for all core processes at the university, from research to teaching and administrative work for more than 30 years now. This information and communication technology (hereinafter ICT) support consists of providing common / university ICT infrastructure (24/7/365) and the management of core IT infrastructure and common information services for all members, institutes and other organizational units.
In terms of the fundamental infrastructure data centre, the CCUM, as the infrastructure centre managed by a 16-member team, provides support for all employees of the University of Maribor (research, teaching and other professionals, as well as students) and all organizational units housed in University buildings (faculties, institutes, laboratories, centres, libraries etc.) by ensuring uniform access to modern information and communication technologies and highly integrated computer services. A powerful redundant connection to the internet network and the University system of digital identities allows employees to communicate with each other easily, quickly and efficiently, communicate with partners around the world, and participate in the use of research equipment at a distance, e.g. with the videoconferencing system.
Combining core ICT services in one place ensures excellent conditions for efficient and effective procurement and maintenance of expensive technology, software and services.
All material elements of the computer system are redundant and standardized, thus forming a reliable, high-capacity and adjustable infrastructure. A key advantage of having integrated IT systems at UM is that any new addition or supplement to existing information subsystems, dictated either by statutory requirements or user requests, can be introduced in a one-time and transparent manner for all users, which not only ensures the most economically efficient development, procurement and maintenance, but also a high level of system capacity usage.
During the accreditation of the University of Maribor (2013), activities of the ICT Infrastructure programme were subject to international external evaluation. Despite being clearly underfunded (2,8 % of the ICT budget in comparison with a 4,7 % reference value – source: Gartner, EUNIS) and understaffed (2,35 % of total staff in comparison with a 5 % reference value – source: Gartner), we were very proud to accept not only favourable, but also commendable opinions of the evaluators: “(i) the work process at CCUM is well planned, (ii) ICT services provided are identical to services provided at comparable universities, (iii) difficulties in recruiting new ICT experts." The latter refers to the issues in employing new IT experts the department sorely lacks, and is the result of insufficient financial resources.
By continuing to monitor relevant metrics relating to the ICT line, we will be able to further improve IT processes, justify spending and increase transparency. In order to ensure necessary skills and expertise of staff and to acquire new competences or maintain the current level of competences, the staff takes part in training courses, presentations and workshops provided by in-house and external experts.
The CCUM Infrastructure centre allows for high-level utilisation of the IT infrastructure capacity at the entire University. We are able to achieve these levels by harmonizing and standardizing network, server and other system elements (including system settings) and services, which form a flexible and high-capacity infrastructure. Connection to the high-performance academic network in Slovenia and Europe makes the research equipment available for remote use, which additionally enhances the productivity and achievements of research groups.
The technological complexity of modern ICT is very demanding, as new standards of fast data transfer are created daily, as are modes of data transfer, storage and processing, and new information network services that increasingly gravitate towards a single IP platform for voice and data-based communication. System maintenance, adjustment and tuning is necessary, including the implementation of new services in accordance with relevant professional standards and practice.
By ensuring infrastructural support and providing quality services to various research-development activities, the CCUM, as a member of the ARNES infrastructure, also provides support to other research organizations and public research organizations that wish to join the UM network. The head of CCUM is also a member of the ARNES Expert Council.
The CCUM is also a full member of the ARNES AAI federation, which provides researches with easier access to other services and resources available through the AAI federation, implemented under the Shibboleth protocol. This way the University also meets REFEDS (Research and Education Federations) recommendations regarding the consistency of experience of system login.