28 November 2006

Network access

Network access for visitors can be difficult to organise.

The University computer network provides staff and students with access to on-campus and off-campus network services like printing, network file storage, enterprise systems (like Alesco, Callista, and FinanceOne), as well as email and World Wide Web services.

For various reasons access to the University network is regulated: for legal reasons, to protect sensitive information, to reduce the risk of malicious attacks, to manage costs and so on. Controlling who gets to use the network is managed by authenticating users: to log on to a computer, access a network storage device, get email or surf the web all require the user’s identity to be known to the systems they are trying to access.

For staff and students this can be managed through information stored in Alesco and Callista. For others (visitors to the University, people who aren’t on the payroll, contractors and so on), access, often quite legitimately required access, is difficult to organise. These people must somehow be provided with credentials known to the various authentication systems so that they can access them.

The Technical Services Unit receives a number of requests for providing access to the University network for people who aren’t ‘in the system’. Some recent examples include: conference attendees who want to check their email and surf the web; visiting presenters using the World Wide Web to support their lectures; workshop attendees studying aspects of using the Web; and visiting scholars who might be here for only a few days. Since the TSU doesn’t manage the systems that provide users with access to most of the University’s systems, it is not in a position to facilitate this access. Requests for providing access to people not in the staff or student systems should be directed in the first instance to the ICT Services Service Desk.