This document is a guide for the implementation and administration of Law School information technology. Its purpose is to provide a college-wide technology strategy, organizational structure, and development process that results in a stronger technology program with more effective support for all constituents.
Even the most subtle of variations in hardware and software can create a significant impact in support requirements. Different displays might operate at distinct refresh rates, select wireless or other network interfaces would require differing drivers, and additional or dissimilar video cards may require vendor specific configuration utilities, etc. Hardware standards are developed to minimize these types of issues. As equipment is replaced, orders will be placed in bulk to ensure all components arrive with a common specification and to secure the best possible pricing. This extends to computers, printers, and peripherals. In the event that additional computers are needed at a later time, extra units must match the original specification. Equipment may then need to be purchased from Dell or other outlets with that model available. Users receiving that standard equipment may rest assured knowing that their computer can be better supported using parts and experience gained from existing hardware and that a new machine will be provided with the next hardware rotation.
Geographic, Four Year Rotation
To create a consistent schedule for equipment replacement, a four year rotation has been established. Recognizing that departments have differing needs, but also keeping with the need for hardware standardization, a geographic rotation will be used to replace hardware building by building. In general, Cartwright Hall computers will be replaced the first year, followed by Opperman Hall on the second, and the Legal Clinic on the third. Printers, servers, and infrastructure-based equipment will be replaced on the fourth year. Exceptions occur when a faculty or staff member in one building uses hardware unique to that location but common to a specification elsewhere. In this instance, the individual will receive upgraded equipment at the same time as others using that equipment type. Certain upgrades may also be made by rotation of existing hardware. Select computer labs, for example, may be upgraded using machines rotated out of Cartwright as new computers are ordered for Cartwright faculty and staff. Legal Clinic laptops may be replaced by laptops rotating out of Cartwright.
Many applications or features within applications are only available for Windows-based machines. Recognizing this, even Apple has provided a mechanism for running Windows and Wintel based applications on their line of Intel machines. At the same time, developers are migrating many of their services to the web, offering cross-platform remote accessibility. Despite this, additional support would be needed if users were to deviate from the hardware standard. To provide users with native support for applications and back-end systems, Dell computers running the Windows operating system is the standard platform. Current personnel making use of Macintosh hardware may remain in the environment on the hope that dual-boot technologies will offer them a progressive migration to Windows. Windows users may not transition to Apple hardware.
Desktops or Laptops
Laptop computers offer a distinct advantage for their users, providing portability if the user's role requires travel. This added convenience creates unique support needs. User documents, for example, may not always be available if the individual roams away from the network. Laptops also create inconsistencies in software distribution and system upgrades. If a computer is off the network when updates are pushed out, the machine may be left vulnerable until the next time it is able to install updates. Even anti-virus scans are scheduled to execute in early hours of the morning. If the machine is not powered on and awake during this time, the machine will run the scan at its next opportunity, often competing for CPU and system resources, degrading performance. To maintain an always-on presence on the network, easing system management and improving network security and application deployment, desktop computers are the standard hardware specification. Laptops will be purchased only in situations where travel is among the user's chief requirements. Faculty and staff that require a laptop for occasional travel may use a circulating laptop.
Uniform printer standards also must be maintained to effectively provide print services. Network printers will be used to service communities within the Law School, centralizing print services. Only personnel with unique security related needs or offices inaccessible to a central printer may request personal printers. Printer hardware will typically be replaced on the fourth year of the Law School’s hardware rotation plan.
Mobile Computing (e.g., Smart Phones)
Members of the Law School’s Information Technology division are happy to assist faculty, staff and students in the configuration of individually owned smart phones and portable devices for the purpose of joining Drake’s wireless network or accessing Drake’s Collaboration Suite (e-mail, contacts, and calendaring). Certain devices perform better in this area than others. For this reason support will be limited to ActiveSync-capable devices only. This includes any device running Apple’s iPhone or Microsoft’s Windows Mobile Operating Systems. BlackBerry and Palm OS are not currently supported. Faculty, staff, and students looking to buy a new mobile device are encouraged to consider something running one of the two supported Operating Systems.
The same strategy applied to hardware support extends to software installation. To reduce licensing costs, ease support requirements, and improve compatibility, all computers are installed with a base operating system, Microsoft Office, a single standard e-mail client, and any necessary utilities. Applications that are not consistent with this objective, or do not assist the employee in performance of his or her job, are not supported.
As a first line of defense against user-borne viruses and malware, software restrictions prevent installation of other software. These restrictions will prevent unauthorized applications from executing. Applications within the software standard fall under the approved applications category and will not be blocked. Local administrative rights are required to install software and that level of access is not granted to users.
--Amended and approved by Law School Tech Committee September 30, 2009
--Adopted by Law School Tech Committee April 12, 2006