Exception handling process

Introduction

The College web policy has been in place since 2002.  Proper governance of the College web presence has been successfully supported by adherence to this policy for all aspects of the College web presence. The policy will continue to develop as new technologies become available and are exploited by the College.

However, that there can occasionally be situations where exceptions to this policy are required and full adherence to this policy could delay business critical initiatives or could increase costs. These need to be assessed on a case by case basis.

The types of exception requests we are seeing relate to:

  • use of non-standard URLs
  • hosting web servers outside the College web server farm
  • divergence from the standard College web page templates
  • catering for interactive and transactional sites, specifically where persistent connections are required.

Process

In order to cater for these exceptions the following process has been implemented:

  1. The originator of the web exception request needs to document the rationale for the exception in the online form.  By completing this form the Web Officer for the Faculty or organisational unit will be asked to approve it. 
  2. If approved by the Faculty Web Officer, the exception request will be submitted to the Change Management team in ICT to process the application. If additional information is required this will be requested from the Faculty Web Officers. A Marval task will be created to track the various jobs associated with this exception and the customer will be informed (via the Marval system) on progress with the exception.

Note: Because technologies change, the rationales for exceptions will also change over time.  Therefore all exceptions will be granted with a review period of a maximum of 12 months to decide whether they should continue to be exceptions.

Guidelines

The following provide guidelines on the type of criteria which may justify an exception:

Exception to URL policy - the URL is not within the imperial.ac.uk domain

  • A research or collaborative project or association, where College members collaborate with other universities or academics from other institutions.
  • A College spin-off, or licensed sub-brand
  • A College commercial venture (eg. Imperialshop)

Where a site is an exception to the URL policy but is hosted on College web servers, then College web content management policies apply.

Exception to URL policy - the URL is within the imperial.ac.uk domain.

  • The urls of websites stored and managed within the College Content Management System are of the format www.imperial.ac.uk/sitename with suffix qualifiers added for each level within the site. Sometimes, a shortcut may be desired for easy access to information which is stored at a low level within the website. Each such request must be supported by the Faculty Web Officer and will be evaluated on its own merits.

Exception to the use of College branded templates.

Exception to hosting of the website or server on the central College web server farm.

  • A web server may qualify for registration outside the College central web hosting environment if:
  • The site is commercial in its operation and hosting it on a JANET connected server would breach UKERNA conditions of use
  • The website is developed as part of the core business processes of a unit
  • The system is a 'sandbox' learning or experimental environment
  • Technology constraints limit the ability of the site to be compliant, eg:
  • incompatibility with College standard software or hardware
  • the application requires persistent connections, either technical or in terms of usability.

Where exception is approved, then a 'system custodian' must be appointed who will ensure compliance with the College Information Systems Security Policy.

General exception criteria:

  • Time criticality - the site needs to be implemented by a deadline, eg. the start of a new academic year, and cannot be made compliant by that date
  • Resource prohibition- the cost or effort required to make the site compliant would outweigh the business benefits, thereby destroying the business case for the initiative.

Examples of some common requests for exception to web policy

  1. Assignment of a shortcut or level 1 url in the imperial.ac.uk domain.
  2. A non-branded website for a collaborative project, hosted on College webfarm servers (Windows or LINUX).
  3. A non-branded website for a collaborative project, to be hosted on the project's own hardware, managed in the ICT datacentre.
  4. A non-branded website to be hosted on departmental hardware.
  5. Access is required, via the College firewall to a departmentally hosted site.
  6. A hostname is required in the imperial.ac.uk domain for an application (custom built or package based).

Applying for exception

Providing you have read and understand the details above, you can apply online to request an exception.