Support for Desktop Computing

This policy applies to single-user desktop computing systems. Please see the separate policy regarding LANs for information on support for non-ITS host systems, servers, local networks, etc.

There are multitudes of hardware and software choices on the market, and people naturally prefer to use those that suit their individual preferences. But on the Davidson campus where many computer users rely on ITS staff for training and support, it is impossible for the available staff to become experts on all hardware and software products. Therefore, hardware and software campus standards are necessary to make support activities as efficient as possible.

Standards allow staff expertise and effort to concentrate on a limited set of essential applications and hardware systems that are widely used on campus. Concentration on standards allows support staff to build expertise in a manageable number of areas. It also focuses support services such as the Help Desk and training workshops to benefit the greatest number of clients.

Standards also help clients make decisions about hardware and software that are consistent with ITS staff expertise and support programs. Standards, however, are not available for all possible applications that individuals or departments may need to use. In addition, some clients have needs for which the standard hardware or software is not ideal.

In cases where non-standard hardware or software for desktop applications are selected, ITS must limit the resources available to solve problems in order to meet our obligations for support of standards. Therefore, clients using non-standard products must assume a greater burden for self-reliance and independence. The following policy explains the support that ITS will provide for various combinations of hardware and software.

Whenever standards have been set for hardware or software products, college policy requires purchase of the standard hardware and software products with college funds. Exceptions may be granted by the director of ITS. Such exceptions will normally require that the faculty or staff person making the purchase acknowledge that hardware will not be connected to the campus network and that support services such as the Help Desk will not be available.

Computers not purchased through ITS must have approval from ITS before being connected to the network.

Definitions

  • Campus Standard Hardware - Brands and models of hardware that have been tested and found to be reliable and compatible with existing standards. All other hardware is non-standard. Examples of hardware include CPUs, external drives, input devices, network cards, modems, printers, etc. Please see the college's policy on the purchase of hardware and the list of current hardware standards for more information. Network connectivity is assured for systems where both hardware and software meet college standards. (Latest hardware standards)
  • Campus Standard Software - The college direction for particular types of software in wide campus use that have been tested and found to be reliable and compatible with existing standards. Examples of software include operating systems, networking software, word processors. The college may announce the direction the campus will take for a particular application prior to the application becoming a standard. Support for the software will begin when the software is designated as a Campus Standard. (Latest software standards)
  • Approved software - Software that has been confirmed by ITS to work with or on standard hardware

Support Levels

Level 1 - Full Support (Provided for all campus standard hardware and software)

ITS provides support (including Help Desk, troubleshooting, and when appropriate, training and documentation) for standard software and guarantees to the extent possible that the various standards will operate correctly together. ITS will make every effort to get standard hardware or software working and bring in expertise as needed until the problem is solved or is found to be unsolvable. In such a case, ITS will work to provide an alternate solution. However, if a software or hardware problem appears to be related to a conflict with non-standard or unapproved component(s), support will drop to Level 3 (see below). Please see the list of campus standard hardware and software that receives Level 1 support. Some combinations of standard hardware and software will not be supported because these combinations do not operate well together.

Level 2 - Partial Support

ITS support for approved software may include one or more of the following: making it work with standard hardware and software, making it available in our facilities, basic training for lab assistants (starting, printing, exiting). For example, academic departments may wish to have software available in our facilities for their students. In such cases, the professors are responsible for supporting the actual use of the program ("how do I use the quiz feature of the program?"), in conjunction with the manufacturer. ITS support is limited to attempting to make the program run and print on the network.

ITS will devote up to one hour attempting to connect non-standard hardware to the network. If the problem cannot be resolved during that time, ITS will not research or refer the problem. If campus standard network software and configuration settings or variations compatible with the network do not work, the hardware will not be connected to the network.

Level 3 - No Support (applies to software and hardware that is not standard or has not been approved for use on the campus network)

When time permits, a best-guess effort will be made to troubleshoot and correct problems that involve non-standard hardware or non-standard software. "Best guess" means that the ITS Help Desk will suggest solutions or steps toward resolution of problems based on their expertise and experience. In such a case, there will be no research on the problem, office visits, or referral of the problem beyond the Help Desk for work by other ITS staff. Clients who purchase non-standard hardware and unsupported software assume an obligation for self-support. They should learn what support and assistance the vendor or manufacturer provides before making a decision to purchase.