Personal computers play a vital role in fulfilling Cleveland State University's
(CSU's) academic and administrative mission, and over the years, we have seen
a significant growth in the number of computers in our institution. However,
the resources necessary to support these computers and keep them working efficiently-basically
systems administration-have not kept pace with the increase in computers and
are spread thinly across an expanding number of workstations. We are putting
more computers into service than are being retired. We must work to manage computer
procurement thoughtfully if we are to avoid further widening the gap between
support needs and support resources.
The process of procuring PC equipment will be a simple one:
- Central Standard and Procurement Process. IS&T, in conjunction
with the Deans IT Council, have established a standard set of equipment for
university use (see attached list of standard equipment).
A contract has been negotiated with specific vendors to provide this equipment
to the university at a significant discount. IS&T will buy small quantities
of this standard equipment and keep that inventory on hand for distribution
to the university at large using this procurement process. Each 3 months,
IS&T and the Deans IT Council will review and revise the standard
equipment list to ensure that the standard equipment remains current and
- Budgeting/Financing for Equipment. Each area of the university is
responsible for budgeting funds for the replacement of old computer equipment,
or the purchase of new computer equipment. As a general guideline, personal
computers are no longer cost effective after a 4 year lifetime. In some situations,
this timeframe is reduced due to high usage or extensive use of powerful software.
If departments do not have sufficient budget to replace their equipment, they
need to discuss the situation with their College Deans or Vice Presidents
to arrange sufficient funding.
Over the next several months, IS&T, with the assistance of the Deans'
IT Council, will develop estimates of the current cost in each college of
implementing a four-year replacement policy. This information will provide
the basis for administrative decisions about an implementation schedule and
about the allocation of funds to support it.
- Request for equipment. Any budget unit at CSU may request that IS&T
distribute equipment to their area. The request should include the type of
standard equipment required, where the equipment will be located (or who will
be responsible if mobile), and the account number of the budget unit to be
charged the cost of the unit(s).
Add-ons (DVD/CDRW, Zip Drives, RAM improvements,
CPU improvements, etc.) are available to the standard equipment configurations.
Such add-ons to the standard equipment configurations will be supported to
the same extent as the standard equipment configuration.
If the equipment being requested is non-standard, the purpose of that equipment
and special needs should be listed. Attempts to meet the specialized equipment
needs will first be made with the contracted vendors before any attempt will
be made to use a non-contract vendor.
Equipment purchased with grant funds is strongly encouraged to follow the
Technology Procurement Policy for PCs to guarantee IS&T and College resources
are available for future support. Consulting with IS&T or College support
resources will ensure there is a correct match between the computers being
ordered and the needs or requirements of the grant.
Any request for non-standard equipment purchased with university funds will
be reviewed by the VP of Information Services or an individual designated
by the VP of Information Services within the college or administrative unit
submitting the request.
- Specialized or high volume requests. Requests for large numbers
of computers, standard configurations with additional components, or requests
for non-standard equipment may require several weeks notice. Equipment orders
from vendors typically range from 1 to 4 weeks from order to deliver depending
on the unit or components ordered. Only standard equipment, in limited quantities,
will be kept on-hand by IS&T for quick delivery.
Background and current practices
Cleveland State University recognizes that computers are essential tools for
most forms of academic and administrative work. Computers provide an increasingly
important means of communication and analysis both in academic and instructional
areas, and in administrative offices. We therefore accept the obligations of
providing the university with access to computers, as well as carefully stewarding
the institution's computing-support resources.
Providing computers and access to them does not stop with simply purchasing
and delivering the equipment. Provision of access requires ongoing support for
the computer during its use at the university. Computers require continual investment
of professional effort, time, and money in order to keep them performing adequately.
The initial purchase of a computer is a very small portion of its total cost
of ownership: The majority of the expense lies in keeping it functioning on
our network, providing licenses for its software, installing software upgrades,
and providing some level of help to support it and its use.
CSU commits to providing all staff with access to the computing equipment needed
to perform the duties asked of them. To meet these commitments, CSU's goals
include the following:
- Provide a computer that meets current minimum standards at the workspace
of every full-time, permanent faculty and staff member. The current computer
standard may vary somewhat by user, based on discipline- and task-specific
- Provide a sufficient number of shared-access computers for students, visitors,
and part-time/temporary faculty and staff.
- Provide computers for other purposes, such as administrative tasks, instrument
control, etc., as needed and as supportable, subject to fair and impartial
review of the needs and the costs.
- Provide a unified enterprise-wide network to support all academic and administrative
users with file, print, mail, and Internet access.
- Create an efficient and effective support structure through such means as
- Maximizing system uniformity with standards-based configurations, purchased
from limited university-approved vendors
- Sustaining our program by periodically upgrading and replacing CSU-owned
computers on a reasonable cycle
- Ensuring that CSU-owned computers-and their support resources-are allocated
to meet needs based on the university's overall mission.
There are important parameters affecting the procurement of computers:
- For the computing investment to be worthwhile, the equipment provided must
meet the expressed needs of its user.
- Commercial computer software is provided under specific use criteria. CSU
must maintain our academic and social values and ethics by ensuring that software
used on any CSU-owned computer has been properly licensed.
- Studies by Gartner Group show that purchase cost represents only about 20
percent of the total cost of ownership of microcomputers. The remaining 80
percent of the ownership cost consists of technical support, user support,
- Unlike some other forms of equipment, computers represent a long-term resource
commitment for administration, technical support, user support, and continuing
upgrades of the machines. Thus, initial procurement through grant funds, gifts,
and similar means are not "free" due to these associated support
costs. Careful considerations should be given to the resulting support costs
by those using these procurement methods.
Currently, the university acquires computers through several different funding
sources, each of which has different oversight and decision making. These sources
include the operating budget, designated gifts, and individual contributions
to a program or group. With the exception of the operating budget, there is
no formal, central oversight of all of these purchases, nor any procedures for
considering the impact of the purchase on the institution. Although some Colleges
provide their own computer support, most colleges and departments rely on IS&T.
For IS&T to support computers, central oversight processes will be put into
place. Some of the problems that arose due to a lack of central oversight are
- Because computers can be acquired through multiple funds, there is no enforceable
mechanism to ensure that equipment purchased conforms to the university's
standards. This results in purchases of equipment that cannot be adequately
supported, to the detriment of our overall mission.
- Older computers or peripherals may be used beyond their effective life having
the same result. Use of this equipment is not cost-effective. This widens
the gap between the most and least powerful/flexible computers, and increases
the number of versions of software (applications, operating systems, printer
drivers, etc.) and hardware (including parts) that must be actively supported.
- In the absence of a university policy for upgrade and replacement of equipment,
there has been no consistent basis for assessing these needs or providing
for them in the construction of the operating budgets.
- Non-university equipment: Staff are not encouraged to bring their own computers
to work for extended time periods. The university is not responsible for loss
or damage of such equipment. The individual takes full responsibility for
- Removing CSU-owned computers from workplace: If a university employee needs
to take equipment home in order to complete a task, he or she may do so with
the approval of their manager and with the completion of the appropriate university
forms. Note: CSU-owned equipment cannot be supported when removed from the
university other than by standard phone support.
- IS&T and your college support areas will put forth their "best
effort" toward resolving problems on non-standard equipment or on equipment
greater than 4 years old. You should expect, however, that resolution times
on such equipment will take longer than on younger, standard equipment. In
certain situations, a resolution for this type of equipment may not be possible,
feasible, effective, and/or may be expensive.