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UM Rectorate

Research for a better future

UM Rectorate

In the past years (2015-2021), the Infrastructure Programme included only the Computer Center of the University of Maribor (CCUM), which now is being extended to the Rectorate to include the support of the information system for researchers and the research process of the University of Maribor (UM). CCUM’s priority is to offer comprehensive, flexible and efficient information support to UM, its members and all its users from the research sphere (see HPC below), taking into account business and strategic goals, modern technological trends and constant changes.

The purpose of the infrastructure programme is to provide comprehensive computer and information support to research processes in the field of hardware (supercomputer, data field, powerful communication channels) and software (databases, records, interfaces, etc.). Research equipment is accessible according to the principle of open access to public research infrastructure, in accordance with the document Policy of open access to research infrastructure of the University of Maribor, adopted by the UM Senate at its session on 24 November 2020. The support is given to provide services under the 24/7/365 principle and the development of a central information infrastructure and common computer services.

UM has state-of-the-art equipment in the field of networks and computing capacities for the needs of the Slovenian research and innovation as well as economic space. Powerful dual hardware with n x 100 Gbps Internet connectivity and a university digital identity system enables users to communicate securely, quickly and efficiently with each other and with partners around the world, as well as to work on remote research equipment.

Since 2019, CCUM has been managing the high-performance computer system (HPC) “Maister”, which provides the computing capacity of the research infrastructure, and which is available for research and development work to researchers in public research institutions and supports educational activities. HPC is designed as a national open access infrastructure. It is based on the principles of the European Charter for Access to Research Infrastructures. Within the HPC Euro Competence Center project, the University of Maribor is the responsible partner for the introduction of the HPC customer support system at national level. Thus, in 2021, a single point of contact was established for all users of HPC systems in Slovenia.

During the accreditation of the University of Maribor (2013), activities of the ICT Infrastructure programme were subject to international external evaluation. Despite being clearly underfunded (2.8% of the ICT budget in comparison with a 4.7% reference value – source: Gartner, EUNIS) and understaffed (2.35% of total staff in comparison with a 5% reference value – source: Gartner), we were very proud to accept not only favourable, but also commendable opinions of the evaluators: “(i) the work process at CCUM is well planned, (ii) ICT services provided are identical to services provided at comparable universities, (iii) difficulties in recruiting new ICT experts.” The latter refers to the issues in employing new IT experts the department sorely lacks, and is the result of insufficient financial resources.

By continuing to monitor relevant metrics relating to the ICT line, we will be able to further improve IT processes, justify spending and increase transparency. In order to ensure necessary skills and expertise of staff and to acquire new competences or maintain the current level of competences, the staff takes part in training courses, presentations and workshops provided by in-house and external experts.

Technological complexity of infrastructure activities​

The CCUM Infrastructure centre allows for high-level utilisation of the IT infrastructure capacity at the entire University. We are able to achieve these levels by harmonizing and standardizing network, server and other system elements (including system settings) and services, which form a flexible and high-capacity infrastructure. Connection to the high-performance academic network in Slovenia and Europe makes the research equipment available for remote use, which additionally enhances the productivity and achievements of research groups.

The technological complexity of modern ICT is very demanding, as new standards of fast data transfer are created daily, as are modes of data transfer, storage and processing, and new information network services that increasingly gravitate towards a single IP platform for voice and data-based communication. System maintenance, adjustment and tuning is necessary, including the implementation of new services in accordance with relevant professional standards and practice.

Cooperation with other infrastructure networks

By ensuring infrastructural support and providing quality services to various research and development activities, the CCUM, as a member of the ARNES infrastructure, also provides support to other research organizations and public research organizations that wish to join the UM network. The head of CCUM is also a member of the ARNES Expert Council.

The CCUM is also a full member of the ARNES A​AI federation, which provides researchers with easier access to other services and resources available through the AAI federation, implemented under the Shibboleth protocol. This way, the University also meets REFEDS (Research and Education Federations) recommendations regarding the consistency of experience of system login.​