What's New in IT Services – February 2024

A lot’s been happening behind the scenes in IT recently. Here are just a few of the latest developments. 

A group of people have a discussion around a table and a large screen in a meeting room.

New staff Intranet 

Your brand new Staff Intranet has launched, featuring all the latest University news and information in one place. Discover how it will provide fast, simple and secure access to everything you need in just a few simple clicks, making it easier to find the information that matters most to you.   

Further information on the intranet and how to use it can also be found on the IT website, and there are also a selection of tips on the staff intranet itself

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Copilot (web) for students 

Following the roll out of the web version of Copilot to staff in December, Microsoft are currently in the process of making the web version of Copilot available to all students. Everyone should have access by the end of February. For guidance, policies and information about using Generative AI for staff and students, please refer to the Generative AI website. 

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New version of Microsoft Teams 

From Monday 4 March, the new version of Microsoft Teams will be available to everyone via a toggle in the desktop application (Windows and Mac) and the web version (Chrome and Edge). You will be able to toggle between the original and new version to try it out. Note – using the toggle will restart Teams. 

Find out more on the IT website.  

There is also an article from Microsoft with all the known issues.   

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Q&A with the IT Executive Leadership Team 

Our latest open Q&A with the IT Executive Leadership Team took place on Wednesday 21 February. Aimed at colleagues around the University, it covered various areas including processes for new starters, content management systems, ways in which IT and various other teams can work together, and more. A recording is available (you might to log in to see it), and an additional write-up of various questions we didn't quite have time for coming soon. 

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Increasing email security 

A common scam tactic used by cyber criminals is to create a spoof email domain. (A domain is the part in an email address that comes after the @ sign, such as @leeds.ac.uk). This is for the purpose of tricking users into believing a malicious email has actually come from a legitimate sender. 

If an email comes from an external third-party (for example, Mailchimp) on behalf of the University, there are additional security features to help defend against this type of phishing attack

As part of the University’s ongoing cyber security improvements, from Thursday 29 February 2024, IT will increase these additional security features for all emails sent from any leeds.ac.uk sub-domain (for example: xxx@careers.leeds.ac.uk or xxx@print.leeds.ac.uk).  

This will not have any impact on most emails sent from the University. However, if a sub-domain was not set up with IT, the recipient of an email from that sub-domain may be informed that the message is potential spam or a spoof. Find out more about this change on the IT website

If you send email from a sub-domain and your recipients see it marked as spam or junk email, please raise a ticket with the IT Service Desk and the sub-domain can be added, if applicable. 

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Agile seminars for students 

We’ve mentioned before about our wider shift towards more Agile ways of working – now other people are starting to benefit from our experience, too! 

Our Agile Coach and one of our Scrum Masters were recently approached the Leeds University Business School to come in as guest speakers for a class of 60 postgraduate students studying Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation.  

As part of a module called Managing Digital Information Projects, students learn about digital project management and the differences between plan-driven and Agile delivery approaches.  

They were invited to run a hands-on workshop focused around using Agile project/product management tools. They gave a short talk on project management in IT, and our ongoing journey to embrace more Agile ways of working – they also touched on our motivation to modernise our ways of working, and some of the challenges we've had along the way. 

The students posed a lot of great questions before getting a demo of how we use Azure DevOps within our Agile teams and having a go at activities to learn the basics of product backlog management – like creating backlog items, adding details and acceptance criteria, and prioritising – in Jira.  

Initial feedback from the student has been very positive, with full survey details – and a follow-up session – still to come. 

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Paygate update 

The Paygate system is only directly accessed by four users in Finance, but is vital to ensuring staff around the University get paid, and that Direct Debits – like payments for The Edge – are processed properly. 

Thanks to the hard work of the project team, we have successfully managed to move Paygate from an old server on premise to the cloud – ensuring that it continues to be reliable and secure – without any disruption to the users of the system, or staff pay! 

After successfully moving the server, we've continued to run the old one in parallel while we checked our work. We're now in the process of decommissioning the old one as we're sure of the project's success. The new version of Paygate also offers some automation to help with processing files – helping to save time and improve reliability. 

Thank you to everyone involved for carefully managing this risky piece of work! 

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Stream videos are moving 

Videos owned by individuals will be moved from Stream (Classic) into Stream (On SharePoint) from 11 March. Existing links to videos will continue to work and permissions will remain the same. Please delete videos you no longer need. This is the second phase of the Stream (Classic) migration project, which began earlier this month. 

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Viva Engage – Update your bookmarks! 

Last year Microsoft renamed Yammer to Viva Engage and now they are updating the addresses. If you have any bookmarks to https://web.yammer.com please update them to https://engage.cloud.microsoft

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Network Redesign project 

Our physical campus network is a vital to the successful running of the University but the current network hardware and design is old-fashioned, making it increasingly difficult for our services to adapt and perform well. This project has been set up to modernise our network infrastructure and improve the user experience.  

Among the eventual benefits to all of us will be:  

  • Reduced complexity, saving time, money and frustration  
  • Provision to assign access or authorisation policies to staff, students or guests  
  • Improved Internet speeds in the worst-served parts of campus  
  • Integrated security to reduce data loss risks but minimise administrative burden.  

Most peoples' use cases are relatively straight forward, but a partner – PTS Consulting – will be assisting us in isolating and documenting more specialist ones in March and early April. 

Please look out for more information on this project in the near future. 

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New Leavers process 

As part of the Identity and Access Management (IDAM) project, the new staff leaver process went live on Wednesday 21 February. Staff leavers will now be automatically notified about their account expiry, and their access will be controlled based on their record in SAP. As part of this work, colleagues’ name and department information in several core systems will automatically update to reflect the information in their HR record.   

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Updated Mediasite emails

The automated emails sent by Mediasite have been updated to provide more up to date instructions on various processes to help give users a better experience.  

The old emails needed updating to remove dead links, but we have taken the opportunity to make it more streamlined and provide instructions for how to view the recording either by Minerva or directly by Mediasite. 

We've outlined the steps for changing ownership too, as there’s now a new process for users if a recording isn’t theirs and they want to change who the owner is. There’s also a link to the IT website if users want to search for a particular guide. 

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Enhance your digital capabilities with the Jisc Discovery Tool    

The Jisc Discovery Tool is now available to all colleagues, helping you understand your digital capabilities and identify development opportunities. Digital capabilities are the skills needed to live, learn and work in a digital world, and make best use of the systems and technologies you encounter. Answer question sets designed specifically for colleagues in higher education to see a detailed assessment of your current capabilities and areas for development, along with suggested learning resources to help you reach your goals. 

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Removing Adobe Reader and VLC Media Player 

From 11 March we will be removing locally installed versions of Adobe Reader and VLC Media Player as they contain a vulnerabilities that allows attackers to run applications on devices without permission. You can install the latest version of these apps using AppsAnywhere and PDF files can also be opened in a web browser. Please note this change does not affect Acrobat Pro.

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CampusPress Pilot 

Our friends in the Digital Education Service are hosting a pilot of CampusPress and would like staff to get involved! CampusPress is a tool for creating blogs and websites for learning and teaching using a variety of accessible themes. Find out more on the Digital Education Systems help website

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How Military Leadership Formed Data Governance for Monica Jones 

Chief Data Officer Monica Jones recently spoke to Techarati about the pivotal moments that have shaped her career and her approach to data governance. The article is part of the build-up to the Big Data and AI World event at ExCeL London on 6-7 of March, where she'll be chairing Data Literacy in Practice: Real-World Strategies and Success Stories on day one. 

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Christmas shutdown power savings, and what else you can do 

Thanks to the efforts of our University community, considerable carbon and cost savings were achieved during the Christmas shutdown. In total, we saved 1.45 million kWh of energy, 274 tonnes of CO2 and £183,000. This is equivalent to the yearly energy consumption of 102 average UK homes and the carbon emissions of a car driving 685,000 miles or 28 times around the Earth!    

Turning off your tech when it’s not in use can help us bring down carbon emissions throughout the rest of the year too – as can other little lings like turning off monitors when they aren’t in use, and clearing out old files. Check out the Sustainable IT article on the IT website for more information and tips. 

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