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A Federated Model of Computing Support at a Large State University. Maurice Leatherbury Senior Director of Academic Computing and Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Computing and Communications Services University of North Texas. “Federated”.

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a federated model of computing support at a large state university

A Federated Model of Computing Support at a Large State University

Maurice Leatherbury

Senior Director of Academic Computing and Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Computing and Communications Services

University of North Texas

  • Federal – “of or constituting a form of government in which power is distributed between a central authority and a number of constituent territorial units”
  • “Formed by a compact between political units that surrender their individual sovereignty to a central authority but retain limited residuary powers of government”
unt background
UNT Background
  • 27,500 students
  • Fourth largest in Texas
  • 9,000 desktop computers
  • Gigabit fiber backbone, 10/100Mbps Ethernet throughout
  • DS-3’s to both I1 and I2
  • Netware, Windows NT, Sun Solaris, Linux, OS/390, Apple OS’es supported
computing support structure
Computing Support Structure
  • Computing Center – 160 FTE’s
    • Administrative Computing
    • Academic Computing
    • Mainframe Technical Services
    • Networking and Communications Services (datacomm, telecomm)
  • Each of eight colleges/schools plus major administrative units has its own LAN/desktop support personnel
    • About 45 FTE employees
  • Microcomputer Maintenance Shop builds and supports desktop computers, sells and maintains Dell laptops
  • Classroom Support Services provisions classrooms with data projectors, VCR’s, etc. and maintains them
computing governance
Computing Governance
  • Computing Center reports to Vice President for Business and Fiscal Affairs
  • Information Resource Council represents all colleges and schools as well as major administrative areas (administration, budget, etc.)
    • Major policies and computing decision recommendations come from the IRC
  • Information Resources Steering Committee (the President and Vice Presidents) make final decisions or recommendations to Board
  • General Access Lab Committee represents 13 computer labs that are funded through student fees, makes policy and sets lab budgets from a student technology fee
  • General Access Lab Managers Committee composed of lab managers
  • Distributed Computing Support Management Team composed of managers of major desktop support units on campus (i.e., excludes CC administrative and academic units)
funding model
Funding Model
  • Computing Center gets capital equipment funding from HEAF “off the top,” salaries and operating from M&O
  • Distributed units get equipment/software funding from HEAF through VPAA’s allocation to the colleges and schools (computing needs compete with other capital equipment needs such as research equipment)
  • Distributed units’ personnel and operating costs come from general college/department funds
  • Computing Center pays for many central functions:
    • Novell Netware
    • Microsoft Campus Agreement
    • Remedy Call Tracking
    • SAS and SPSS licenses
    • Sun hardware and software maintenance
    • Data communications (no chargeback)
brief history
Brief History
  • February, 1996 the IRC formed Ad Hoc Committee on Distributed Support Issues because of problems with support across campus
  • Charged it to study:
    • Organization, training, career development, cross training of distributed support staff
    • Server consolidation
    • Software tools to facilitate network administration
  • Consider formal coordination of decentralized computing units
  • Develop guidelines or standards for computer support staffing levels
brief history con t
Brief History (con’t)
  • July 1996 Provost established Distributed Computing Support Management Team (DCSMT)
    • Membership from all major desktop support units on campus (colleges, administrative offices, etc.)
    • Chair is Director of Academic Computing, who also advises colleges and administrative units on hiring and evaluation of support personnel
  • Ad Hoc Committee established “CSQ” (Computing Support Quotient) goal of 100 support units {(users + machines)/2} per support person
  • Range of CSQ was 44 (Library) to 275 (Physical Plant.) Average was 140
  • Faculty Senate passed resolution requesting additional staffing in computing support
additional staffing
Additional Staffing
  • 11.75 new positions were added
  • Majority went to colleges/schools
  • Three positions were upgraded to provide equity among units
  • $351,000 new funding, 75% first year, 50% subsequent years provided by VPAA
distributed computing support management team
Distributed Computing Support Management Team
  • On the Web at http://www.unt.edu/dcsmt
  • 22 members, including the computing support manager at UNT’s System Center in south Dallas
  • Chaired by Director of Academic Computing
  • Meets every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month (System Center participates via videoconference)
  • Additional persons usually attend: CC security coordinator, Assoc VP for Computing and Communications Services, campus-wide networking support personnel, etc.
dcsmt functions
DCSMT Functions
  • Coordinate efforts of central and distributed computer support units for efficiency and effectiveness
  • Improve distributed computing environment
  • Implement recommendations of Ad Hoc committee on computing support
dcsmt s relationship to other computing groups
DCSMT’s Relationship to Other Computing Groups
  • Chair of DCSMT reports on its activities to the IRC
  • DCSMT recommends policies and procedures to the IRC (it DOES NOT make policy!)
  • Many DCSMT members are also members of the General Access Lab Managers Committee
  • Most colleges/schools have technology committees with DCSMT members participating
major dcsmt initiatives
Major DCSMT Initiatives
  • Campus-wide call tracking system (Remedy)
  • Desktop OS standardization (Windows 98, NT)
  • Laptop computer standardization (Dell)
  • Productivity suite standardization (MS Office, some Corel Wordperfect)
  • Virus checking standardization (McAfee)
  • PDA support (Palm OS)
major dcsmt initiatives con t
Major DCSMT Initiatives (con’t)
  • Students in the Novell tree
  • Network management tools (Managewise, DSExpert)
  • Y2K readiness
  • Hourly worker wage study
  • CSS/CSM classifications minimum requirements change
major dcsmt accomplishments
Major DCSMT Accomplishments
  • Communication! (CC to distributed units)
  • Communication! (Distributed units to CC)
  • Communication! (Distributed units to distributed units)
  • Communication! (Computing support to campus in general)
  • Most DCSMT meetings end with status reports from each attendee, discussing problems, solutions, etc.
distribution of responsibilities
Computing Center

Fund campus-wide software (MS Campus Agreement, Remedy, etc.)

NDS tree, Active Directory coordination

Data communications funding and maintenance

Help Desk for students, administrative computing questions, general computing questions

Compaq server maintenance

Administrative systems

Central planning (DIR, etc.)

Security planning & coordination

Distributed Units

Fund local hardware and software

Support all of their users’ computing needs except for administrative systems

Help desk for their users’ questions

Conform to campus standards (datacomm, NDS, security, etc.)

Distribution of Responsibilities
what makes the model work
What Makes the Model Work?
  • Standardization
    • Desktop computers, LAN servers, Laptops, Novell, Microsoft, Etc.
  • Funding
    • Computing Center supports campus-wide initiatives, has “carrot” to gain acceptance
    • Distributed units have enough to meet most computing needs
  • Staffing
    • Generally adequate to provide desktop support
  • Cooperation
    • Partnership between central computing and distributed computing
el paso community college




integrated administrative software system evaluation and selection process
Integrated Administrative Software System Evaluation and Selection Process
  • May 1996 - ORACLE DBMS purchased
  • June 1996 - IASS Committee Formed
  • July 1996 - Jan 1997 - IASS RFP drafted
  • Feb - April 1997 - RFP issued for consultant to review IASS RFP
  • Sept - Nov 1997 - Consultant selected and review of IASS RFP completed
  • Dec 1997 - Feb 1998 - IASS RFP draft finalized
  • March- May 1998 - IASS RFP issued & evaluated
  • June - August 1998 - on-site demos
integrated administrative software system evaluation and selection process1
Integrated Administrative Software System Evaluation and Selection Process
  • Oct - Dec 1998 - Software Evaluation Team, 11 members; 2 Vendors Evaluated with Four Offsite Visits
  • Jan - March 1999 - Vendor Negotiations
  • March 1999 - SCT Banner 2000 approved by Board of Trustees
  • May 1999 - Kickoff & Business Process Analysis
  • Dec 2000 - Finance Module Go-Live
  • March - June 2001 - Finaid & Student Go-live
  • Jan 2002 - H/R Go-live
integrated administrative software system evaluation criteria
Integrated Administrative Software System Evaluation Criteria
  • Weighted scores by criticality
  • General System
  • Admissions
  • Registrar/Records - Credit and CE
  • Financial Aid
  • Financial System
  • H/R
  • Technology
  • Vendor
  • Other - WEB, Reporting, Support
integrated administrative software system sct banner selection
Integrated Administrative Software System SCT BANNER Selection
  • Price
  • State of Texas/DIR
  • TX Connection Consortium
  • Functionality - General, Student, Financial Aid, A/R, Tuitions, G/L & Accounting
  • WEB & V/R functionality
  • Technology
  • Less Strong in H/R and Purchasing
sct banner implementation tips
SCT BANNER ImplementationTIPS
  • Budget - doubled estimated implementation hours, overtime and part-time, departmental equipment (PCs, monitors, network printers), materials duplication, licensing, servers and network equipment, upgrades, Summit & evaluation trips
  • Site evaluations - Pick sites that are on same version if possible
  • Training - Dedicated training rooms, Train the Trainer, Internal training documentation, smaller training areas
  • No Base Line Modifications
sct banner implementation tips1
SCT BANNER ImplementationTIPS
  • Business Process Analysis - EPCC ready/SCT not, Change processes not system
  • Project Management - Internal Full time, external part time, Change Management is key
  • Staffing - backfill key positions, develop vacation accrual policies
  • Project Management Team - Senior Management Level including Functional Team Chairs
  • Functional Teams - Chaired by Director level or above, users assume ownership
  • Document & record all meeting and decisions
sct banner implementation tips2
SCT BANNER ImplementationTIPS
  • Functional - Cumbersome maintenance; Approval Queues, User profiles, Security Matrix, etc
  • Integrated General Person - Triple Caution
  • Reporting - State Reports solution in progress, canned reporting not great, ODBC reporting has security and performance issues, Get Help!!
  • Technical - Licensing, Training & Hands on, Staff Retention, multiple Servers needed, installations, PC’s, network printers,
  • Extras - A/R Cashier system, Counseling and Testing MS ACCESS system, Payment server
sct banner implementation epcc status
SCT BANNER ImplementationEPCC Status
  • On track overall
  • Outstanding issues - Reporting, Internal Training, Departmental Equipment, Banner Installations, Credit Card Payment
  • Vendor Support Good overall
banner general
Banner General