Definition of Terms
For purposes of this policy document a lab computer is defined as a publicly accessible computer made available for use by university students, faculty, staff and guests -- or in some cases, a subset of that group (i.e. Computer Science students, Art students, etc.). Lab computers may also be called “Kiosk” computers or some other term, and may be interspersed throughout a venue – not necessarily together in one room. Lab computers may also be situated in a classroom, such as Marston/Watson 3 or DLMH 113. They are defined as lab computers because they are made publicly accessible for use by multiple individuals associated with the university. They are not “Podium” computers (see podium computers below).
A Lab Manager is an individual or group of individuals funded by a given department/school to support its lab computers. Depending on the lab and the size of the lab, the position may be full time, or part time. Computer support is defined as part or all of the scope of an individual’s position and title at the university. Lab Managers may coordinate/manage other full or part-time staff in the support of lab computers. Lab Managers, in coordination/management of other departmental full and part-time staff, are responsible for providing Tier 1 through 3 support for lab computers (see Tier definitions that follow). Lab Managers are ultimately the “owners” of all technical issues related to their lab computers.
Lab Managers, as owners of their space, are expected to perform at a high technical level (Tier 3) when facing issues related to their Lab Computers. CIS is able to offer support and advice regarding Tier 3 Lab issues, however the Lab manager retains ownership of the issue.
Podium computers are distinguished by their presence in the classroom – usually one per classroom, in most cases installed in the instructor/teaching podium. They are connected directly to the projector and other technology and are used by classroom presenters (faculty, students, etc.) Unlike lab computers, podium computers are completely supported through all tiers of service by CIS.
Central PC Pool Computers
Desktops and laptops directly assigned to individual faculty and staff, as well as systems deployed in academic/administrative units for student employees, shared adjunct stations and a small number of single-station kiosks are defined as Central PC Pool Computers. Permanent funding for these systems is provided by the respective academic/administrative units and they are completely supported through all tiers of service by CIS. (see: Central PC Pool Policy)
- Tier 1 - Initial, front-line support for the end-user, hardware, and software within the Lab. Information gathering including logs, behaviors, error message, and any data useful to the reproduction of the issue. Typically, these issues can be solved with knowledge bases, online searches, behavior or usage changes, and settings adjustments.
- Tier 2 - Issues requiring research or repair beyond the initial discovery are escalated to Tier 2 to allow for additional troubleshooting and information collection. From here an issue’s underlying causes are narrowed down, and if no existing solution is available it is escalated to Tier 3 support.
- Tier 3 - Tier 3 support is the final owner of a problem. Tier 3 support staff must perform a root-cause analysis building on the troubleshooting efforts of the prior levels and utilize their specialized skills to resolve the problem. Tier 3 support coordinates the resolution of the issue, or if no resolution is available determine appropriate action for the affected resource.
Lab Computer Hardware Funding, Configuration and Support
Hardware Budget/Funding Resources
All lab computer hardware must be permanently funded in a way that provides for regular and timely upgrades, maintenance, and repair. The funding for lab computer hardware is generally provided through a centralized lab equipment budget.
Old equipment should not be redeployed to the department/school or sold to other university departments/schools. A process of bidding old equipment for resale should be followed and the equipment should be sold to the highest bidder. The proceeds from the sale should be returned to the same source that funds the hardware upgrades.
There are a few exceptions to the funding model described above (as of April 2016):
CIS has two computer classrooms (McKenna 113 and MW 3) that are funded out of the Student Technology Fee budget (113002-5371).
CIS has Kiosk computers in Weter Hall and the SUB that are funded out of the Student Technology Fee budget (113002-5371).
There are smaller discipline-specific and often research-oriented labs that are funded out of the Central PC Pool budget (113002-5375). These departments have provided funding for support by CIS from the PC Pool.
Family and Consumer Sciences has a small design lab
SPFC (Psychology) has multiple research labs
Health and Human Performance has a small lab connected to exercise feedback devices
Health Sciences has a small discipline-specific lab
The Learning Center has a small lab for practice tests and proctored exams
Each year CIS goes through a hardware selection and bidding process. Lab Managers are encouraged to participate and provide feedback as part of this process. For scaleability of support, particularly as it relates to the master software build and infrastructure, all lab computer hardware purchases should be made from the standard vendor and hardware CIS has selected. Any questions or concerns regarding hardware needs and standard hardware configurations should be directed to the CIS Technology Support Services team.
Windows desktops and laptops are the standard for lab computers. The university has strategically invested in Microsoft technologies as a campus standard. As a result, Windows desktops and laptops retain a significant advantage in both cost and support.
Any lab computers that are not the CIS standard windows computers should be proposed to and reviewed by CIS in advance of purchase. Mac desktops and laptops should only be purchased and deployed as lab computers where discipline-specific needs are present (Art, and Music, for example) and only after discussion with CIS. For any other non-standard lab computing devices, they should only be purchased and deployed after review and discussion with CIS.
Hardware that is purchased based on CIS standard hardware selection and bidding is integrated and supported with regard to accessing CIS systems of automation for management and maintenance. Lab managers are encouraged to confer with CIS when implementing approved hardware to ensure maximum compatibility. This hardware can be integrated into management systems for auditing, management, and maintenance.
Physical repair and replacement of hardware is not provided by CIS (with the exception of warranty RMA coordination of standard hardware).
Hardware that has not been reviewed or approved and is not part of CIS hardware selection and bidding is not supported by CIS.
Lab Computer Software Funding, Configuration and Support
Software Budget/Funding Resources
General use software (i.e. Microsoft Office, SPSS, Adobe, AutoCAD, etc…) is funded through the Student Technology Fee budget. Program-specific software is generally funded by the academic program. However, occasionally multiple funding sources may be used to provide software to campus lab computers. All software purchases and licensing should be coordinated through both departmental lab managers and CIS. Because CIS manages the software build and packages installed on university lab computers, CIS needs to be involved in all lab-use software purchases and licensing.
CIS is responsible for configuring general use software for consumption by lab managers in deploying the software to lab computers. Access to application software and Operating Systems is provided to approved devices using management systems. Control of software management is maintained by CIS but access to pertinent data is granted to Lab Managers.
CIS also assists lab managers in configuring program-specific software and making the software available for consumption by lab managers to deploy to lab computers. All software deployed to lab computers must be reviewed by CIS and follow the same management process for configuration and deployment – whether the software is configured by CIS or by a lab manager. This ensures maximum uptime for university lab computers.
CIS provides support for operating systems and software configured by CIS and made available for consumption by lab managers. Support to lab managers for such operating systems and software is limited to the installation, uninstallation, and configuration. CIS provides support for system-wide issues that can be replicated in CIS with standard hardware, standard software and standard master build/configuration. Such system-wide issues occurring in multiple scenarios across campus will be a high priority for CIS. Hardware and software limitations notwithstanding, CIS will do its level best to resolve such issues quickly and efficiently.
Consultation support is also provided by CIS for program-specific software and issues specific to a particular lab computer environment. However, ownership of program-specific and lab environment issues is retained by the lab manager. Even though ownership of lab-specific problems is retained by the lab manager, CIS will always be available to provide direction in troubleshooting such issues. Lab managers should never hesitate to contact CIS for guidance in resolving issue.
Software Updates and Patches
Lab managers should maintain the operating systems on all lab computers within one major release of the most current major release. Lab managers should also maintain applications within one major release of the most current major release. Lab managers should ensure that the operating systems and applications on all lab computers are frequently updated and patched (at least weekly). Some threats may require the lab manager to immediately patch lab computers.
CIS provides tools to assist the lab managers in accomplishing all of these tasks (default group policy settings for Windows and OS patching, major application release updates for core applications, NNP third party application patching, Casper management for Macs, etc.).
Operating systems and software not delivered or deployed in coordination with CIS are not supported.
Lab Computer Technology Management and Consultation
CIS provides support to Lab managers for hardware and software management—this includes lab system policy modifications, access to management tools (such as SCCM, WSUS, Casper, NNP Third Party patch management, etc.), and consultation on best practices.
CIS provides support to Lab managers for consultation with regard to technology decisions, implementation, design, and risk management. Lab managers should include CIS in the planning phase of projects where technology is being utilized to ensure compatibility with existing systems and reduce long-term support efforts.