IT Review: 2017

At the end of another busy year, it is time to reflect on some of the major IT events, trends and achievements.

It is alarming to report that cybersecurity threats and attacks increased to record levels during the past year. Stellenbosch University, like most institutions around the world, is increasingly being targeted by criminal elements, and these attacks are consuming an increasing amount of our resources, that could have been applied to more constructive projects. Is this a mere reflection of society?

On the positive side, the IT Division has made steady progress with major renewal strategies, like the Systems Renewal Programme, the Campus Infrastructure Upgrade program, and implementation of various other new services. Many of the improvements were made possible by innovative reallocation of resources, and improving our functional capabilities in a variety of ways.

Many of our users have expressed concern about the availability of wifi across our campuses. It remains one of our key investments and will continue at a steady pace, with more academic and administrative buildings, and especially student residences, being connected and equipped with wifi. Unfortunately, this is a tedious process, since wifi infrastructure often depends on the renovation of the building infrastructure itself.

As we move into the digital era, it is important to notice and utilise technological opportunities to increase cost-effective service improvements. Two major examples are cloud computing (including SaaS – Software as a Service application platforms), and the boom in personal computing devices and social media. These trends provide opportunities for the innovative restructuring of IT services, and better utilisation of resources. For example, the successful migration of many of our Microsoft applications (Outlook, Exchange, Office) to O365 on the Microsoft Azure platform, is already realising a range of benefits.

We are delighted to report that Stellenbosch University reported the highest internet speeds of all universities in SA for at least two months during 2017. Internet connectivity is a key enabler for most applications and communication, and speed and reliability remain key performance factors. We are also glad to report increasing bandwidth availability in our national and international connections. The Higher Education sector now has redundant (dual connections) to Europe via the Seacom and WACS cables, between 40 and 100 gigabits per second!

Lastly, I must congratulate the IT staff on all the achievements of the past year. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication.

We wish all our clients and users a happy and relaxing festive holiday period, and we look forward to a new year of opportunities and challenges.

Attie Juyn
Senior Director: Information Technology


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