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Espen Koht manages IT systems for two Cambridge colleges: Darwin and St Edmund's. He noted how times have changed for IT managers in the colleges.
He said that, for example, students wanting to put up a website used to approach the college IT managers for web space. Now they can organise that space easily themselves.
"It's going to be an interesting shift for a lot of us," Koht said. "In the last few years, we had a captive audience for our services, but now we just offer core services. We provided students with great [broadband] speeds in their rooms, but that's not that special anymore."
Koht linked this change with the rise of cloud-type services. "IT is always expanding, but we're losing the contact we had with customers, and are taken for granted," he told ZDNet UK. "Students are not that bothered with what college IT managers do, and that's fair enough. But I'm interested in seeing if, with the cloud, people lose their way." He added that universities' traditional role involved the mediation and filtering of information, saying that "maybe that has to come back".
Koht did, however, express some relief at the self-sufficiency that might result from students' use of cloud services. "It will be useful in that people won't come to me asking for a copy of Microsoft Office," he said. "People will be better at getting information. Less of the 'How can I get access to my files?' stuff will make my life simpler."
Darwin and St Edmund's are already adopting certain forms of desktop virtualisation, Koht said. "We use it on the infrastructure side, to test things out," he said. "When I lend a student a virtual computer, that's desktop virtualisation. I can give them admin rights, which I couldn't before. It's also useful for [providing a virtual machine to] people whose computer has broken down".