Monash University CIO to retire

Alan McMeekin is set to retire after 11 years in the role and having steered the university through its first two years of a five-year IT transformation plan

Monash university’s CIO of 11 years, Alan McMeekin is to retire at the end of the year having set the university on the path toward a five-year IT transformation.

McMeekin, who will finish up at the university on December 22, said that he had previously postponed plans to retire in order to get the university’s transformation plans up and running and would now hand over the project to an interim CIO while the university searches for a full time replacement.

The transformation program currently has nine key areas which included a server consolidation and virtualisation program to reduce about 1400 servers down to about 700, and data centre consolidation aimed at reducing about 20 data locations down to two.

The data centre consolidation includes the move to the new joint facility between the University of Melbourne, Monash University and RMIT which aims to reduce the education providers' greenhouse gas emissions announced in October.

Additionally the transformation program includes a service management strategy based on ITIL which in itself includes subsets of change management, release management, and asset management.

“At the moment we’re out to market for a service management software package and that will be the basis for deploying these new strategies across the organisation,” he said.

The university is also moving to a more centralised, single service desk model which will seek to reduce about 34 help desks across the university through using a cluster approach, McMeekin said.

“The university is moving to cluster model of service delivery across the organisation… all the support services - IT, student services, HR and facility services - will be provided through service clusters within the faculties,” he said. “It’s a way of providing a more consistent approach in the way the various services are delivered across the organisation.”

Financial management, in order to get an holistic view of ICT spending across the university, and project management, to ensure proper portfolio and project management processes were in place, rounded out the key transformation areas.

McMeekin said the university was continuing to expand its IT use of video collaboration and would shortly adopt Google Apps for student email, collaboration, calendaring and storage.

Commenting on his 11 years at the helm of IT at the organisation, McMeekin said the university was now well endowed with IT systems, applications and infrastructure.

“We are up there with the best in all these areas; the services we provide students and research community, our administrative applications are up there among the best, and collaboration,” he said. “Other universities do good things, but we are up there as well.”

The most observable trends over the past 11 years were the increasing pace of change, shortening of hardware and software refresh cycles and the way in which the internet had become fundamental, McMeekin said.

“Everyone is becoming more dependent on IT services for information and to support services and it is becoming an integral part of the way researchers work and how students study,” he said.

Further evidence of this could be seen in Monash’s setting up of separate e-education centre and e-research centre with the charter of determining how technology could enhance the education and research processes within the university.

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