The University of Oxford approaches Intelogy to define their Microsoft 365 governance and architecture
As one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, Oxford is a unique and historic institution. Providing the very highest standards of research and education for almost 1,000 years, the University is currently ranked as the best in the world by both the Times Higher Education World University Rankings and Forbes’s World University Rankings.
In 2019, the University of Oxford’s IT Services team approached Intelogy, one of the UK’s leading Microsoft 365 content services providers, to define an overarching architecture and governance model for SharePoint Online and Teams usage. Assessing the unique composition of the University, Intelogy ran a series of workshops to identify requirements. We then translated these requirements into a high-level solution architecture and governance model, which would form the basis for all of the University’s use of SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams.
Founded not long after the Norman conquest of England, the University of Oxford is one of the most esteemed higher education institutes in the world.
The University has a distinctive collegiate structure, with students and academics belonging to both an individual college and to the wider institution. Each of Oxford’s 39 colleges operate as financially independent and self-governing academic communities.
The central University is made up of a combination of academic and administrative departments, libraries, and museums. In total there are approximately 100 departments overseen by four academic divisions.
The University’s IT Services team has built a reputation for providing excellent institution-wide shared information and data services. ‘Nexus’, one of the major services that is currently offered by the team, provides over 200 colleges, departments, and other areas of the University with collaboration and storage within an on-premise SharePoint farm.
Having already migrated to Exchange Online, the IT Services team has recently been planning to provide improved functionality to the wider University, by migrating their service into SharePoint Online. The team recognised that they needed to define a robust solution architecture that would delegate a high degree of autonomy to each of the colleges and departments, while at the same time provide an intuitive and well-governed service.
The University approached Intelogy to oversee the process of planning a governed architecture spanning both SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams. This architecture will form the basis for file storage and collaboration capabilities provided to staff and students and will provide a major component of the ‘Nexus 365’ service.
The uniquely de-centralised nature of the University presented the largest challenges for the solution, in that the architecture needed to simultaneously enable a centrally controlled service, while also provide significant autonomy to each college and department. This determined that the Nexus 365 architecture needed to both:
- Provide a service that is intuitive and compliant ‘out of the box’
- Ensure that each ‘entity’ (e.g. college, department etc.) has clear ownership and control over their own Sites and Teams
Intelogy’s architecture centred around a unified SharePoint site and Microsoft Teams request and provisioning process. New workspaces will be requested through the University’s existing service desk solution. Local approval for the given workspace will be automatically sought from the relevant ‘entity’ within the University. The provisioning process will then introduce a standard naming convention for all new Sites, Teams and Groups.
The process of defining a series of different templates was initiated, to ensure that different types of Site or Team could be provisioned complete with an appropriate structure, metadata, permissions, and navigation.
Importantly, Intelogy recognised that the centralised nature of the core Security and Compliance capabilities provided by Microsoft would need to be overseen by the Nexus 365 service team. Our governance model recommended the creation of new communities of experts, from across the University, to manage the use and configuration of the Microsoft 365 Security Center and the Microsoft 365 Compliance Center. To further this process, Intelogy worked to identify some of the key Information Management stakeholders from across the University and brought them together to learn about the document retention capabilities provided by Microsoft 365.
Intelogy additionally provided the University with a comprehensive governance plan, detailing the roles and responsibilities of the new Nexus 365 SharePoint service.
Engaging Intelogy to define an architecture and governance model has given the University of Oxford a solid foundation for their move of SharePoint to Microsoft 365. This process has designed the shape of the future Nexus 365 service and will ensure that the University is able to take advantage of the capabilities of SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams, while retaining clear ownership and control over their content.