Unsung heroes

In October we told you a little about some of our teams behind the scenes. Our Desktop Services team is another group of those unsung heroes, providing a managed desktop service to UAS and GLAM and keeping our computers in great shape (although there's lots we can do to help too).

What does the team do?

This small team of only 14 people manages around:

  • 5,400 Windows PCs and laptops for UAS and GLAM staff 
  • 410 PCs in Bodleian Libraries for readers and students, and   
  • 55 PCs and laptops just for exams.

What's the big deal?

Since March 2020 the team's entire support function has moved to being remote only, with no visits to the more than 80 sites that they look after.  The team has achieved remarkable things remotely to keep the rest of us going. Here are a few highlights since March 2020:

  • The team provided a bespoke hub to receive new devices for setup and distribution to people's homes.  They also organised collection of devices if remote repair was not possible.
  • They shipped more than 550 new laptops to user's homes during lockdown - demand for this continues even as we write this.
  • Background work with the Microsoft Platform Services Team (MPST) has improved automation, workflow and accuracy of management activities carried out daily on servers, keeping information up-to-date and ensuring who has access to data is accurately maintained.
  • Security patching of devices has been improved during the past year and a major Feature Update to Windows 10 is nearly complete. This has been a major challenge with many devices now in people's homes and many still switched off in unoccupied offices.
  • When staff first went home our desktops couldn't be taken for home use as they were set up to only work on Oxford's network. This presented another huge challenge, but work and testing have now taken place and if departments wish to use desktops at home, this is now possible.

All this and more

In addition to all of the above, our Desktop Services colleagues have been preparing to move two additional departments onto the Managed Desktop service – one is planned for the end of January 2021 and the other will move over during March. Well-established processes had to be adapted to achieve most of this work remotely.

Here are some hints and tips for you to keep your computer in good health. Keep an eye on our IT websites for more in the coming months or follow us on Twitter @Ox_IT.

So much goes on behind the scenes that you don't get to see. But this is a good thing - if you don't notice most things, it means all is running as expected. Next time you switch your computer on to start working for the day, spare a thought for all the hard work that has got you to that point.