5.9.1 Desktop Computing – Hardware

Background

Users frequently purchase computer hardware through the Computer Store on campus. Personnel at the Computer Store are aware of the recommended standards articulated by the Microcomputer Standards Committee, and they encourage purchasers to align their request with these standards. Following the standards in hardware purchases assures users of technology support. However, the level of understanding among users regarding the Microcomputer Standards and support for hardware technology is not clear. (See www.stcloudstate.edu/tltr/appendix8.asp.)

Different platforms and hardware accessories are available: both PC and Mac/Apple; desktop and laptop, wired and now wireless. Past policy has been to support the range of computing environments that meet the needs of the vast majority of users. This is not to suggest that diversity of products should be limited, but to ensure judicious use of available resources.

Defining a limited set of hardware options would provide an opportunity to employ "the economy of scale" principle to equipment purchases, which could produce significant savings. Other ownership options should be investigated, including leasing. At this juncture, a mechanism to coordinate timely and regular purchases of hardware does not exist.

Lastly, the current evaluation of acceptable use of hardware on campus is spotty. Technologists from the various HelpDesks and college technologists are aware of university policy. Currently, MnSCU is drafting a policy for "computer and information technology resources acceptable use." Once this policy is finalized, it will be necessary to evaluate campus policy and determine its level of alignment with MnSCU policy. (See 5.2 Policies & Use.) Beyond these nuts and bolts points, it is essential to apprise the campus community of SCSU's institutional responsibility to comply with legal standards for hardware and software use.

Goals

In the next five years, SCSU should

  • continue to evaluate and articulate the recommended standards to all campus users
  • identify the needs of the majority of users and determine the most cost effective approach to
  • purchasing and replacing/upgrading hardware on a regular cycle
  • aligning technical support based on hardware choices
  • determine if users have appropriate technology (see 5.9.2)
  • evaluate support and replacement of "common" computer use areas, such as open computer labs (see 5.10) and electronic classrooms (see 5.4.2)
  • maintain practical diversity within the campus computing environment with an understanding that all systems cannot reasonably be supported
  • continuously monitor hardware to assure legal compliance with SCSU and MnSCU policies
  • regularly disseminate to the campus community compliance policies

Specific Actions and Timeline

A committee will be established to evaluate hardware on campus. This committee should be constituted from the Microcomputer Standards Committee and any additional users currently underserved by this group.

  • The committee will follow the standard timeline (see 5.0) for carrying out and reporting on specific actions.
  • The committee will evaluate the campus standards for hardware currently in place.
  • The committee will determine the most effective method of evaluating hardware use and needs (both general and discipline specific) and recommend a replacement cycle. Some possible approaches might include Computer Store records, business office records, or departmental surveys.
  • This cycle of hardware evaluation should continue on a biannual basis, alternating with a biannual comprehensive evaluation of software (see 5.9.2).

Resources

As with other components in this plan, making firm estimates about the costs associated with implementing the articulated goals is difficult. Personnel will need to be assigned to or be part of the committee to assist with data collection. The role of the committee and administrative decision makers will be to determine the most effective use of resources to meet the greatest number of users’ needs. The concept of total cost of ownership should be investigated and used, if appropriate, in the evaluation of technology needs.

Evaluation

  • Has the committee employed campus standards for hardware in developing recommendations?
  • Has the committee effectively evaluated user hardware needs and made appropriate recommendation?
  • Has the committee addressed the acceptable use policy on campus relative to MnSCU policy and communicated these policies to the campus community?
  • Have administrative decision-makers acted upon the committee's recommendations so that user needs have been met?
  • Has the committee provided a final evaluation of its work in 2008 with recommendations for the next technology planning cycle?

Revised: May 2003