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Computer Standards

In order to fulfill our commitment to deliver the highest quality computer, information processing, and telecommunications services, consistency in hardware and software across the environment is vital.

ITS has developed a set of university-wide computer standards which should be reviewed before purchasing or upgrading your system or software. These standards cover various aspects of the University's computing environment such as desktop systems, software, the campus Internet and the campus network.

Providing standardized systems allows for centralized support functions through management services and remote access. Standardization also enables the University to use its purchasing power to provide the best technology at the lowest possible costs with the quickest implementation. Conversely, standardization can hinder specialized projects where hardware and software needs extend beyond the norm.

Microsoft is upgrading operating systems at a rate of once every 3 years on each platform (desktops/servers). In a university environment, it can take 6-8 months to test and develop an installation plan for a new OS and up to 4 - 5 years to cycle through the University community. Because these refresh schedules do not match, there is significant overlap of older versus newer technology.

Our current standard Desktop Operating system is 64-bit Windows 7.

Desktop OS Standards

To ensure the integrity of the network and provide support for a reliable, safe and useable operating and networking environment for all areas of the campus, it is vital that the entire campus community adhere to specific standards.

The following general standards have been established:

  • All workstations should be provisioned with an ITS standard image to insure uniformity across all workstations.
  • All workstation should be registered with the Desktop Management System LANDesk to allow ITS to inventory and apply security patches.
  • If administrative rights are required on a workstation to meet a business need we have an administrative account, a "Run As" account can be created to elevate your rights to complete an administrative level task. Contact your TSP to begin the process to apply for the account.

Please remember these standards have been established to protect the viability of campus computing environment. If the University standard are not followed it can pose unnecessary risk to the information and system you have access to and additional risk to IT resources and systems.

Questions or comments concerning this issue should be indicated on your electronic application, when you are contacted for installation scheduling, or via e-mail to itshelp@odu.edu. If you have any questions please contact the Help Desk at 757.683.3192.

Hardware Life Cycles and Performance

The question of the average life cycle of a desktop PC or laptop is an issue that is addressed by a variety of factors. These include the specific hardware configuration, the operating system being used, the applications that need to be run to allow the user to perform work, and the ability of the designated support structure to keep the desktop or laptop functional.

More recently, there have been dramatic changes in hardware technologies, including significantly faster multi-core processors, significantly increased RAM and bus speeds, some to over 1 Ghz, advances in the development of the PC Express technologies, SATA II standard and many others, that have improved system performance. These have all contributed to put the performance of hardware well ahead of the general user's software system requirements.

The end result of these hardware improvements has been to extend the average life cycle of a desktop PC out to 4 years, potentially 5. As hardware and software changes occur into the future this recommendation may increase or decrease depending on the consequences. Individuals making hardware purchases or developing technology plans should be aware of this life cycle and make appropriate adjustments.

Hardware Maintenance Support for Managed PCs

When defining specifications and making purchases of desktop PCs and laptops for use on the University, it is imperative that machines be purchased with a warranty period that extends through the full expected life cycle of the system. At the present time this would normally not be more than 5 years. This warranty can be purchased initially from the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) or provided for through a fixed maintenance program with the current contract hardware support vehicle in place at the University.

It is strongly recommended that the hardware warranty/maintenance issues be addressed with the acquisition of hardware. The small amount of savings that might be realized by leaving this out of the initial purchase is only a fraction of the costs that may be incurred later in the life cycle as system components begin to fail.

Managers and users should be aware that support costs associated with the maintenance of older computer hardware are beyond just the cost of the hardware component itself. Whether the issue deals with the continual use of severely antiquated hardware that provides marginal or poor performance in the desired area or the correction of non- maintenance or non-warranty items, additional costs can be expected.

When a faculty or staff desktop experiences a hardware failure, there is technical staff time and costs along with the loss of productivity of that individual. As more of these incidents occur, then delays in correcting the problems can be expected to increase, thereby adding to this financial and resource burden.

Hardware End of Life for University Owned Equipment

ITS support personenel will no longer provide technical support or maintenance for any desktops or laptops beyond 5 years of age (as defined by the OEM Serial Number/birth date). These PCs and laptops have fully served their usefulness in the technology area and should be replaced by newer equipment and sent to property control for disposal.

The University support infrastructure is made available to maintain University owned equipment and resources. At no time will University support personnel provide maintenance and support (hardware or software) for personally owned equipment. Users who need support can contact the Technology Store to see if current low price contracts are in place that can be used or contact local computer businesses that provide this service.

The hardware support requirements apply to all systems installed and supported by ITS and will provide for a more robust and useable computing environment:

Operating Systems

Currently ITS support OS X 10.6 or newer. End-user are allowed to have older versions of OS X but all initiatives and consideration for system changes and advancement will be based off the oldest version that is supported by ITS. TSP will provide support as much as possible but as the OS and hardware ages those solutions maybe limited if backward compatibility issues exist or when Apple no longer provides support or updates for the legacy OS.

Acquiring Hardware and Software

To acquire a new Apple computer, peripherals for an Apple computer, or operating system software for an Apple computer it will be necessary to contact the TSP in your area.