AU Standards for PC Purchasing and Support

Presented to President's Cabinet, Monday, March 15, 1999

by David Heise and Dan Widner

Information Technology Services

 

Our mission is to serve the University through wise capital investment to meet the conflicting needs of minimizing initial capital outlay and maximizing length of trouble-free service.

PC Quality Considerations

1.      Two different markets - Business and Consumer

Name brand computer manufacturers supply computers designed for (at least) two different markets with different requirements for reliability.

 

Manufacturer

Business

Consumer

Dell

Optiplex

Dimension

Compaq

Prosignia

Presario

Hewlett-Packard

Vectra

Pavillion, Brio

 

         Computers designed for home use typically are used for fewer hours in the day, with less demanding applications such as email and word processing, usually in a standalone environment.

         The impact of computer failure is less severe at home than in an office where the machine plays an integral part in accomplishing the day's work.

         Computers designed for business use are engineered with components of better quality and tested to work together in a variety of situations, including reliable operation over a network.

2.      Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

Many studies have been done on cost of owning computers, and these reveal that hardware and software capital expenses account for about 25 percent of the total cost of deploying and owning computers. "Most costs are associated with management and technology support by IS professionals, and the hidden costs of end-users managing and supporting their own computer systems." Interpose, Inc.

 

End-User IS

21%

Non-budgeted

Departments

Downtime

7%

"

"

Hardware & Software

25%

Budgeted

Departments

Management

21%

"

AU

Support

16%

"

ITS

Development

5%

"

AU

Communication fees

4%

"

AU

Data source: Interpose, Inc.

 

The impact of downtime will vary according to the circumstances. However, the higher risk of failure that is inherent with lower quality machines increases the risk that interruption to service might create an unhappy student or turn away a potential student.

3.      Hardware Component Specifications

Dan Widner (ITS Client Services) has prepared a document outlining hardware components that are required to meet minimum levels of reliability and networkability.


A New Paradigm For Computer Purchase And Support

1.      Why is it needed?

1.       To facilitate the wise use of Andrews equipment capital.

2.       The raising of the minimum capital purchase limit from $500 to $2,500.

3.       Mass purchases are looming as non-Y2K compliant machines are replaced.

4.       For enhanced buying power.

5.       Differentiation in quality between consumer and business quality hardware.

6.       Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) considerations.

7.       To limit end user IT support (an unbudgeted cost).

2.      How A New Paradigm Could Be Determined

         Appoint a group to study options for improving the quality of computer hardware and support

         Consult and seek input from around the campus

         Prepare a report and present it to the computer committees, meetings of chairs and department heads, Deans' Council, Financial Management Committee, Senate, Cabinet

         Implement the action that is voted

3.      Possible hardware purchase/support models

1.      Centralize computer capital budgets and purchasing

This could be difficult to administer, but is what many other MCF colleges do, and some NAD SDA colleges.

2.      Subsidize computers bought from ITS

3.      Three-year rolling hardware turnover contract

4.      Offer differential levels of service, with different priorities and fee structures

Puts undue pressure on ITS techs.

5.      Have ITS service only its own customers

Departments buying computers off campus must also handle their own support.

Difficult to manage for the university's benefit (conflicts with 1.5 above).

Puts undue pressure on ITS techs.