The ISSC at the forefront
In just ten days the staff at Leiden University had to switch to remote working. That called for an enormous effort from our ICT Shared Service Centre (ISSC). We asked three members of the ISSC staff how things went over the past week and a half.
We have all missed the social exchanges and jokes in the office or restaurant, and the chats at the coffee machine, but without the ISSC the whole university would have come to a complete standstill. The greatest blessing for most people working at home is Citrix, the system that gives you access from home via internet to all your documents and programmes. All the systems the university uses, including Windows and SAP, are accessible via Citrix, which means that the large majority of staff can do their normal work from home. The systems are sometimes slower and it all feels a bit more laborious, but even so everything works as it should. There was just a brief period when the system couldn't handle so many users.
Daniel Çelik, Cirix administrator
Daniel Çelik, a member of the Workspace Department, is the man who runs Citrix. We called him while he was out taking a walk with his daughter, on his free Friday, which he can now take up again. 'My partner is also at home, so we take turns in looking after our daughter.' Çelik was informed about the decision to work at home roughly a week earlier, on Thursday 12 March.
‘The thing with Citrix was that the number of users was limited to around 800 at any one time. But fortunately we were able to increase that number.' He knew that there would be a lot of hard work ahead. ' I started preparing on Thursday and worked through the weekend until Monday morning. Now we can have up to 1,500 staff working in Citrix simultaneously. And that seems to be enough capacity. And not everyone is working from 9 to 5. You see people log in at 5 in the morning and at 10 in the evening; there are also people working abroad in a different time zone.' Until now, Çelik was the only administrator for Citrix, but now there is a trainee also supporting the system.
Jeen van Noort, telephony
Telephony is Jeen van Noort's specialty, as network administrator for the ISSC. Normally he works on wireless connections such as WIFI, but last week other jobs landed on his desk. There was suddenly a mass of staff wanting to have their office phones transferred to their mobiles, which they were no longer able to do from their workplace. Van Noort: ‘We also had to make arrangements for colleagues who weren't able to work from home, so that they could carry on working.' That included the different Service Desks, including the ISSC, FSSC and PSSC, the university's central telephone service, the corona info line and the front offices of Student Affairs. The phones are now answered just as if the staff were sitting at their desks in the university, which is as it should be. Van Noort: ‘The new connections have to work through the internet. Some alternatives have already been arranged, and we're still working on some others.'
What was the mood like at the ISSC when the announcement came that in principle all staff would be working from home? Van Noort: ‘It was a bit of a shock, and we were all wondering how we were going to manage it. It was a long way from all the normal processes.' But everyone at the ISSC just got on with it. What particularly struck Van Noort was that there were very few complaints from colleagues elsewhere in the university. ' You can't do everything at once, not even transferring the phones. That took up a lot of our capacity. But nobody got angry and everyone seemed to really appreciate what we were doing.' Things at home are also fine. The children, one 14 and one 16, are very busy with schoolwork. We give each other plenty of space, which seems to work well.'
Ronald Kluivers, workplace services manager
‘Over the past year I've been involved more and more with Azure and Office 365, or, in other words, the MS Cloud,' Kluivers explains. 'We anticipated the decision to work from home, so we were already preparing.' A pilot was already ongoing with Microsoft Teams, the programme that allows people to have meetings with a video connection, but the decision was taken not to offer that immediately. Kluivers: ‘That meant a lot of work. We went from around a hundred university meeting teams to well over a thousand. No, I didn't really have the feeling that we were being challenged. Our Workspace department is a great team, and we can feel truly proud of them all.'
Kluivers also looks after his 85-year-old mother, which does put him in a dilemma. ' I don't want to visit her too much, but nor do I want her going to a packed supermarket.' His mother-in-law is in a care home and she's not allowed any visitors. Kluivers: ‘That's difficult because she's got Alzheimer's. She said recently that she hadn't seen me for six weeks, even though I visited her just five days ago. Luckily, one of the carers lets us use her phone now and again so we can have a video call. That's the way it is; you just have to take life as it comes, and put what little influence you have to good use.'
The ISSC is more than ever the nerve centre of the university. You might think, then, that the Snellius Building, where ISSC is housed, is an enormous hive of activity. But nothing could be further from the truth: the ISSC staff are also all working from home. That was something they could do even before the corona crisis.
Text: Corine Hendriks
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Situation with remote working in figures and graphs
The rapid development of remote working
- The highest number of users working at the same time via remote werkplace/Citrix is 1225.
- Since Microsoft Teams went live on 16 March, l1,360 meeting groups have been created in the programme.
In the first week of working from home, the ISSC Helpdesk received 1,688 reports and 500 requests. On Monday there were almost three times as many reports and one and a half times as many requests as normal (643 compared to 228 normal, see the chart). The large number of reports was the result of phishing emails. As a comparison: in February there were on average 228 reports and 104 requests on a working day.
|Date||No of reports||
No of requests
|Mon 16 March||643||150|
|Tues 17 March||318||112|
|Wed 18 March||258||85|
|Thurs 19 March||256||82|
|Fri 20 March||188||67|
|Sat 21 March||6||4|
|Sun 22 March||9||4|