Paul Alexander is Head of Technical Services for the STEM faculty at The Open University, which counts among its alumni Oscar winner Julie Christie, singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading and IT entrepreneur Natalya Kaspersky. The STEM Faculty is the largest of the university’s faculties with 700 staff and 1800 associate lecturers. They deliver over 185 modules across the undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum, this equates to 20,000 full time equivalent students which is 29% of the university total. In addition, they have world leading researchers contributing to the university research outputs, which in turn feeds into the Research Excellence Framework submission (REF2020) as well as numerous international research projects.
Open University’s STEM Faculty IT infrastructure is critical to accomplishing its mission. “Uptime, security and monitoring IT infrastructure are more critical mandates than they ever were before. We have a significant number of OEMs –Dell, HPE, IBM and older storage. We have a few hundred assets from two different very wide and varied legacy IT infrastructure portfolios that we’re trying to combine. As such, we’re going to have a huge portfolio of equipment that will be coming under the same banner,” Alexander said. “Plus, our site is very different to a lot of other sites in terms of the complicated nature of the network and firewalls and how that is setup. Any solution we use is going to have to do a bunch of work around that. I was unhappy with the existing maintenance that we were dealing with, and looking for solutions to support our mission-critical IT.”