The Importance of University computing standards

Why is the standard PC/laptop so important?

Computer hardware and software standards allow the University to provide better and more efficient support for students, faculty and staff on campus.  In addition, standards facilitate the ability for the University to leverage its purchasing power directly to obtain the most cost-effective pricing available for computing equipment that meet or exceed our use case (as well as defined life cycle).  Our current "standards" include both Windows and Macintosh platforms and have at least one desktop and one laptop model available for each.

"The Devil is in the details"!

A more detailed explanation and reasons why Information Technology (all divisions) is so "hung up" on standards:

  • Standards reduce the total cost of ownership of technology for the enterprise.  They can assist in budgetary predictability; create staff savings in installation, maintenance and support; reduce service disruptions to colleges/departments; reduction the number of service requests; better managed customer technology expectations; minimize redeployment; better contain costs for upgrades; reduce time and money spent on software training; increase administrative support for a total life-cycle management plan for computers on campus.
  • Standards mean convertibility.   Moving from one system to another can be fraught with difficulties.  The adoption and use of computing standards ensure the ability to move applications, content, and uses from one standards-based system/platform to another.
  • As standards are more widely adopted, service support levels are strengthened and improved.  Technology deployment times and support ticket turnaround times are significantly reduced when enterprises can focus their limited support resources on selected standards that meet (or exceed) customer requirements.  Focused training for support/deployment staff increase the total quality of the user experience.
  • Avoid technological dead-ends.  Enterprises want to avoid purchasing products that eventually leave them stranded with an incompatible technology that does NOT meet the functional needs of students, faculty and staff.  An "enterprise" approach to balancing the costs and benefits of newer, "bleeding edge" solutions with tested, compatible, and interoperable technology reduces the cost and allows for a broader deployment of "useable" technology.
  • Standards promote and support universality and seamless interoperability between hardware and software.  Standards facilitate the ability of Information Technology managers to test and verify hardware and software interoperability and compatibility prior to recommending, purchasing and deploying technology solutions.
  • Standards are inclusive.  The University defined computing standards include support, maintenance, security, basic office software, and an enterprise class operating system.

In addition, senior administration support for budget resources will improve as the campuswide desktop replacement problem has been better defined and the funding levels have stabilized.  In the future, we can build a much stronger business case for replacement funds that "automatically" appear as part of each year's budget request and are approved without question.  A key component of this vision will be to have a solid, well coordinated plan that is grounded by the deployment of equipment that will meet life-cycle requirements.

Exceptions to the rule

In diverse environments that must support instruction, research, and public service, there are always exceptions.  A good example: an externally funded grant that has specific outcome expectations.  This is enough to justify and trigger those exceptions and make a good business case for NOT purchasing a University approved standard.  It is important to remember the following when making a request for a non-standard machine:

  • Align your use case with the specified technology;
  • Insure that the solution includes anti-virus software, office software (if necessary), and the professional (enterprise) version of the operating system;
  • Insure that the technology has a useful life of 3-5 years;
  • Make sure that you specify at least a three year warranty, preferably five, to cover the useful life of the equipment;
  • Make sure that you have the resources to support the hardware and applications that will run on these non-standard machines.

Please "be on the lookout" for content regarding University computing standards on the helpdesk website.