The University I am working for is undergoing a major renovation of the ICT system. The team currently undertaking the task is designing a centralized system with the intent of providing most (if not all) services of the institution electronically. Most of us are academicians with little practical experience. The questions we need answers for are
- What are the systems (preferably free, as in Beer, and/or open) and best-practices in use in other academic institutions?
- What are the experiences of people administering academic ICT systems?
- What are the overheads of attempting to provide services through an intranet cloud (like UEC) for us (a medium-sized academic institution, in a third-world country)?
We would very much appreciate it if you could give us your take on the situation.
EDIT: Based on the responses I got, I have added the following info to my original question. I hope this discussion will also serve as a reference for other implementers.
We have already designed a system and evaluated some products. These are some of the services our system is intended to provide
- Centralized Authentication and Authorization (together with support for windows domains). Systems considered: Microsoft AD, kerberos (krb5), ldap (slapd), CAS, samba.
- Centralized Network Services (DNS, DHCP, proxy, ...). Systems Considered: bind, dhcpd,squid.
- Mail and Groupware (e-mail, collaboration, file sharing, calendaring ... ). Systems considered: postfix, dovecot, zimbra, openXchange, egroupware, kolab, citrix, Microsoft Exchange
- Student Information System (Student enrollment, course registration, academic advising,... . Systems considered: openSIS, focus-SIS, Blackboard.
- Course (Learning) Management System (with e-learning support). Systems considered: moodle, sakai
- Web Portal (where all services are made available via the web). Systems considered: uPortal, LifeRay.
- Human Resource Management System (personnel matters).
- Financial Management System (All things finance). Systems considered: Peachtree
- Knowledge (Content) Management System (for managing documents and information). Systems considered: Alfresco, Nuxeo.
Our goals are:
- Minimum cost to setup and run. That is why we prefer free software. This is also why we are opting for server virtualization.
- Reliable and maintainable. That is why we prefer opensource.
- Future-proof. That is why we are planning on implementing a 'private cloud'. Making our system easy to port if management decides to outsource ICT to 'the cloud'.
If you are a sysadmin in an educational institution or someone who has experience with university information systems, please share your experiences with us.