Desktop Computer Support Policy

Purpose

This document describes the College of Engineering desktop computer support options available from Engineering Computers Services (ECS). The College’s technology goal is to provide an environment that serves our educational mission and supports the day-to-day administrative work of the College.

Rationale

ECS strives to provide a secure, highly functional, consistent environment across all platforms. This functionality can best be supported when the hardware and software remain consistent across the college. This support model has enabled us to provide superior service and functionality (e.g., home directory service, password synchronization across all platforms, backups).

The University of Iowa requires that each campus unit be able to verify that computers in its domain are appropriately patched, have anti-virus software installed with updated virus definition files, and comply with the enterprise password policy.

While ECS recognizes that the standard base load or limitations of college-managed systems may not meet the needs of all faculty, University regulations now require a level a management for all computers. This policy aims to provide a support model for faculty who choose to administer their own machines and those who want a managed environment.

Eligibility

All desktop computers on the Engineering Computer Network must participate in one of the programs described below. Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers are covered by this policy.

For all of the options below,

  • Computer is joined to a domain, usually Engin but can be Iowa
  • Management agent is installed to handle machine inventory, operating system (OS) and software updates
  • Password tool is enabled, allowing user to use Hawk ID and password to set engineering password
  • Microsoft Office, Matlab, Firefox, Flash, Shockwave, and Java are installed

Locally Administered and Research Computers

Option 1 - Minimum support - no charge

Fee: none

Benefits:

  1. Computer can be joined to Iowa domain
  2. The owner is given a local admin account for administering the machine
  3. The owner is responsible for obtaining, installing, and maintaining all software
  4. Additional application software available from the various Engineering application pools is charged on a cost recovery basis
  5. Owner is responsible for any interactions with the vendor for warranty support
  6. Engineering Help Desk will provide basic support at no cost, but for more complex issues will charge time and materials

Option 2 - Intermediate support

Fee:  $250 one-time for the life of the computer

Benefits:

  1. Computer can be joined to Iowa domain
  2. The owner is given a local admin account for administering the machine (upon request)
  3. Additional application software available from the various Engineering application pools is installed on request provided that no special research license is required
  4. Engineering IT staff will install research versions of Engineering supported applications upon payment of the relevant license fees
  5. Engineering IT staff will help the owner with software installs on request
  6. Engineering IT staff will deal with the vendor for any warranty support
  7. Engineering IT staff will create system restore image (upon request)

Option 3 - Full support with backup

Fee:  $25 per month for the life of the computer

Benefits:

  1. Local drive backup
  2. Benefits #3-6 from Option 2 above
  3. Engineering IT staff will provide troubleshooting and general assistance with software and hardware problems
  4. Engineering IT staff will attempt to minimize any downtime related to equipment failure or software issues
  5. Engineering IT staff will reload operating systems and applications as necessary and keep them current
  6. Locally administered computers can be added to the Engineering Computer Network by filling out the Request for an Additional Network Connection form.
  7. Local computer administrators must follow University policies and standards as per the (ITS) Network Citizenship Policy as well as local policies in the Checklist for Locally Administered Computers.
  8. The computer should be directly connected to the network and not behind a router.
  9. If the system is compromised, the computer will be disconnected from the network until the OS has been reloaded and the vulnerability patched. ECS will try to notify individuals prior to a network disconnect.

Best Practices for all Locally Administered Machines

  • Install software and data on the local data drive.
  • Turn on automatic updates for applications. 

Benefits to Local Administration

The individual can install his/her own software and external hardware.

Drawbacks to Local Administration

  • Computers are more susceptible to denial of service and root access attacks than ECS-administered computers.
  • ECS support for diagnosing and resolving software conflicts may incur a charge.

ECS Administered Computers

ECS installs, maintains, and manages all hardware and software on the system. Computers are rebooted early Sunday morning if there are operating system patches or software updates. Daily backups of the local hard drives are done automatically by ECS. The computer is connected to a secure network. Hardware and software purchased by the College are under warranty.

Individuals cannot install their own software or hardware. ECS will install hardware or software purchased by an individual; there is no charge for that service. Purchased software must be compatible with the supported OS. ECS will make every reasonable effort to resolve conflicts between purchased software and the OS.

Computer Naming Convention

ECS administers collegiate, departmental, teaching lab, and institute-owned computers under the following plans. Collegiate, department, teaching lab, and research lab  computers are in the Engin domain.

Collegiate Computers

Collegiate computers are named D-COExxx, and are purchased by the Dean’s Office. There is no fee associated with D-COExxx computers. They receive complete support, including local hard drive back up. These computers are replaced every 5 years.

Department Computers

Department computers are named D-nnnxxx where “nnn” is the department abbreviation; e.g. D-MIE007. Fee includes local hard drive backup.

Teaching Lab Computers

Teaching lab computers are named T-nnnxxx where “nnn” is the department abbreviation; e.g. T-ECE007.

Research (Lab) Computers, Full support

Research lab computers are covered under option 3 above and are named R-nnnxxx where “nnn” is the name of the lab; e.g. R-ECE007.

Others

Locally administrated and research lab computers covered by options 1 and 2 above are named (option 1) N-nnnxxx where “nnn” is the name of the lab; e.g. N-ECE007; and (option 2) E-nnnxxx where “nnn” is the name of the lab; e.g. E-ECE007.