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IT Center Blog

The IT Center Picture Puzzle: Systems and Operation Department

October 14th, 2022 | by
Interview photo with the Head of Department Systems & Operation

Source: Own illustration

#MeetMeWednesday: Recently we had another picture puzzle in store for you. In this puzzle, we were looking for the keyword for the Systems and Operation department. Could you guess it?

The word we were looking for was “gearwheel”. Georg Schramm, head of the department, tells us what it means and how this key word represents the department.

Who is behind the Systems and Operation department?

Behind the Systems and Operations department are many clever minds who are happy to devote themselves to their IT topics on a permanent basis. In total, we currently have 48 employees, 13 trainees and six student assistants. The department is divided into four groups: “Application Operation & Cloud”, “Application Development”, “Identity Management & Software” and “Server, Storage, HPC”. In terms of qualifications, we include IT specialists, mathematical technical assistants and software developers, computer scientists, industrial engineers, technomathematicians, natural scientists and economists.

What makes the Systems and Opertion department special?
Why is the department essential for the IT Center?

With the tasks for which it is responsible, the Systems and Operations department forms a link between different parts of the IT Center, the university and beyond in various ways: By providing large parts of the IT infrastructure, it serves many users inside and also outside the IT Center and enables the connection with the underlying infrastructure layers (network, building, etc.). By introducing, providing and maintaining the services entrusted to us and the processes of the entire university that build on them, we are a central cog in the IT gear for the IT Center and the RWTH Aachen University. With the services offered for other universities, consortium leadership in projects and participation in many IT committees, this also applies to North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).

IT Center Picture Puzzle solution with solution word gearwheel

Source: Pixabay

What are the main tasks of the department?

We support the service, research and teaching areas by operating central hardware and software systems. The central services include, in particular, the offerings in the areas of backup, archive, high-performance computing and mail: These services can be used directly by employees, students and members of the university. Services in the areas of server virtualization, databases, web hosting, authentication, managed services, and software and hardware procurement make a significant contribution to the IT infrastructure of the RWTH Aachen University. With services and projects such as GigaMove, GitLab, Datensicherung.NRW, IDM.NRW and the conclusion of HW framework agreements, we are also active beyond the borders of the RWTH Aachen.

What are the current projects/developments?

For teaching at the RWTH Aachen, we are particularly concerned at the start of the winter semester with the operation of the campus management system RWTHonline and the teaching and learning portal Moodle. Identity management processes are also important in this phase in order to support all new members of the university. With the Organizations and Persons Directory project, work is also being done in coordination with the University Hospital on the successor system to the CAMPUS Organizations Directory. Another major project is the conversion of the previous backup and archiving system to a new software and hardware infrastructure, which will also be used to supply other universities in NRW. In the National High Performance Computing network, a JupyterHUB has gone into operation for research within RWTH High Performance Computing and the test phase for RegApp has been started. This is an application that facilitates access for external users and enables security features such as multifactor authentication. As part of NFDI’s involvement, an extension was procured for Research Data Storage, which will enable all universities in NRW to store research data in the coming months. Another project with which many members of the RWTH Aachen come into direct contact is the expansion of the functional scope of M365. Here, with the participation of many committees, the concrete use of a public cloud offering is being examined and prepared, while at the same time the university’s cloud strategy is being developed. In the IDM.NRW project, the kickoff for the cooperation with bwIDM2 has just taken place, with the aim of keeping the authentication and authorization processes up to date with cooperation partners beyond the state borders. For the software asset management of the university, the changeover will be prepared after the acceptance. Simultaneously, a self-service for the administration of so-called named user licenses will be changed from test to productive operation.

What does the future hold for the department?

As a department responsible for the daily, smooth running of many different processes at the university and beyond, reconciling continuous renewal and change and dealing with unforeseen events and influences is the central challenge.

To address two points: The IT Center’s cloud strategy also marked the start of concrete implementation. This includes both the task of providing services in the community cloud, for example, and taking on the role for the RWTH Aachen as a user of cloud services. To us, this means profound changes in processes for users, cooperation partners and our own qualifications. Gradually, this change is taking hold of all areas of our department, and we will establish a path for the RWTH Aachen and ourselves.

Balancing issues such as security, sustainability, recruitment, corona, energy scarcity, especially when occurring at the same time, place demands on the team and each individual. We have successfully managed the transition into and out of the pandemic. It is becoming apparent that we will experience all of these conditions in parallel in the future. One goal, therefore, will be to keep in mind and strengthen the resilience of each of us and of the team so that we can accomplish our mission.

Thank you very much for the interview!

We hope that we were able to give you many exciting impressions of the activities, projects and developments within the Systems and Operation department. Did you like the interview? Then please leave a heart for us!

Responsible for the content of this article are Georg Schramm, Denise Dittrich and Arlinda Ujkani.

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