The Digital Solutions & Coordination division was created on 1 September 2018. What was the impetus for starting this division? How is the implementation of the strategy coming along?
SWITCHprocure has been negotiating framework agreements with big software vendors for several years now. Our legal team is part of this process, reviewing contracts to ensure compliance with legislation in Switzerland and the rest of Europe. We will continue to offer and expand these services for the benefit of Swiss universities.
But the ways in which institutions source their software have transformed in recent years, and cloud solutions will bring even more change. Software is increasingly being sourced in the form of ‘Software as a Service’, or SaaS. So I still need a contractual agreement with the software vendor, but as an individual consumer, I don’t have any way to negotiate terms. I’m forced to accept the contract or do without the service in question. As a higher education community, we have more clout and can ask for specific binding terms. SaaS services also offer users new distribution channels, which is where SWITCHhub platform and SWITCH edu-ID come in.
Our SWITCH edu-ID provides secure access to both the SWITCHhub platform as well as the new SaaS services. Here, users can source various services from a central platform. Wherever possible, we will also process all billing via SWITCH, allowing universities to handle the entire software provisioning process from a single source offering a fully integrated solution.
A further development comes from swissuniversities and its Coordination Office for Scientific Information (COSI) initiative. The basic idea behind COSI is to take academic services that come about through research projects or in teaching and offer them to the entire university community. This creates a sustainable business model for the services.
Because this project has a great deal in common with the distribution of commercial services outlined above, it makes sense to implement it within the same organization at SWITCH. We took this into account when selecting the SWITCHhub platform. We also aim to support the service providers with expertise in the area of service management to deliver the maximum in service quality.
This work dovetails perfectly with the development of our legal consulting services. Here, we offer the community our expertise in the areas of data protection, telecommunications law, procurement and licensing law, as well as IT law in general in the form of project-specific consulting. Our first pilot projects will be under way this year.
The WG ICT-Law, WG SWITCHprocure, and the Higher Education Cloud Days working groups will be involved in all of the activities described above. We will carry on with these working groups and change them as market trends and current requirements dictate.
We look forward to continuing our intensive cooperation with the whole community.