Computer Hardware Request Process 2013

Ray Phillips, Director of Information Technology Services
Deadline: Friday, April 12, 2013

Decisions will be made during the next two months regarding the allocation of computer hardware to be distributed this coming summer.

For budget and planning purposes, this is the primary request period for computer equipment for the 2013-2014 academic year. There will be limited opportunities in the fall and winter to have computer equipment needs evaluated and met, although urgent allocations may be available.

The Computer Hardware Request Process

The essential steps in the request and allocation process are as follows:

1.  Each department identifies an individual to coordinate its requests. These individuals have already been selected by the departments and are listed at this link:

Department Computer Request Coordinators

2.  All computer hardware requests are coordinated by each department to ensure that the needs of all its members and programs are addressed, and that prioritization of those requests can be made. Individual requests should be forwarded to the person coordinating the department's request.

3.   The current hardware inventory is available to those persons making departmental requests on the web at the following link:

Requests for the coming year will be made on this inventory/request web page.  In addition, ITS will continue to make available each person's allocated computer list used in the inventory verification process, to assist in communication between the request coordinator and the department members.

4.  If you find errors in the inventory when you access the inventory/request page, please note the problem in the "Remarks" line available after the piece of hardware in question. If you have any questions about the inventory, please call Rurik Spence at 4215 or Marc Cote at 4229.

5.  Requests for changes to existing workstations (replacements and upgrades) must be made on the inventory/request web page. This is done via a set of checkboxes, with space available for you to enter comments if necessary or appropriate. New stations, as opposed to upgrades or replacements, will be very limited and will require special justification. A net increase of fewer than 10 computers is expected overall in the College again this summer.

6.   Due to the budget reduction, we have moved to a four-year-average replacement. We are trying to replace notebook computers every three years and desktop models every five years. Earlier replacement is possible with significant justification.  In situations where a computer can be used effectively for another year, replacement can be delayed.  Computers older than five years, though, cannot necessarily be repaired and may not be able to run up-to-date software.

7.  Each time the department request coordinator visits the inventory/request web page, the request information is loaded from the database. Each time the request information is submitted, this information is updated in the database. Thus, you can visit repeatedly, each time updating your requests until April 20. Whatever information is in the database at the end of the day on April 20 is what is used for the allocation decisions!

8.  This item is very important because every year we encounter problems when someone has been overlooked and no computer is available for them.  Every person's needs must be included, even if a search for a candidate is still going on or even if the search has not yet begun.  If you do not know what will be needed for a person, request a new station, make your best guess as to what will be needed, and tell us in the comment field what date the position is likely to be filled and we will coordinate with you later in the year. Don't wait until later to make a request or a computer may not be available for the arrival of the new hire.

9.  Please remember that allocations are to individuals and to particular labs or other facilities and that when a person leaves the College, the allocated computer comes back to ITS for reallocation, if appropriate.  Reallocation within a department may not occur unless approved in this request process.  A major reason for doing this is to preserve confidentiality of information on computers allocated to individuals.  The needs of a person newly hired are evaluated on their own merits in making allocations.  Each faculty member and most staff members have an allocated computer from the College and the needs of people newly hired are not included in the limitation in number of "new stations" added during the allocation process. 

10.  Include the needs of those who are returning from sabbatical and other leaves.

11.  Include the needs of those going on sabbatical leave. Continued allocation of computer hardware and software is not automatic for those going on leave and must be requested, although there is a high likelihood of continued allocation.

12.      Allocated Windows computers will be Windows 7.  Like most of our peer institutions, the College is now deploying Windows 7, except when software still needs Windows XP to run properly. Except in departments where support is already in place, Linux is unavailable.

13.   Specialized software for Windows systems being requested as a replacement for a Mac must be included in the remarks box.

14.  If major upgrades or a switch to a new operating system (e.g., Macintosh to Windows) are being requested, include a very brief programmatic assessment of the overall impact of the changes being requested. Particular attention should be paid to shared resources within and between departments.

15.  Remember that the deadline for your department's requests is Thursday, April 20.

16.  Preliminary allocation decisions will be made available to departments in early May for review and possible minor adjustment.  Information about the distribution schedule will be made available then as well.

How does the budget reduction affect what you should request?

In spite of  past budget reductions, ITS will be purchasing over 450 new computers. A limited number of used computers will be available for reallocation as replacements for even older computers and for allocation to faculty and staff on one or two year appointments.  As in the past, we are not advising Mac users to switch to Windows unless there is a compelling reason for investing the significant effort that will be involved.

With the budget reduction, ITS has shifted to a four-year average replacement cycle.  We are trying to replace notebook computers after three years and desktops after five years. Those who are finding that they have filled up their hard drives are advised to create off-line CD or DVD archives of older files that can be quickly restored if needed, freeing up hard drive storage space.  Those who store large personal collections of photos, music (e.g., iTunes) or other files not directly related to College responsibilities should use CD or DVD storage or handle these files on a personally owned, home computer.

For both Macintosh and Windows upgrades there is no need to specify requirements unless there is something unusual about how the computer is used. As usual, almost all of the new computers purchased by the College this summer will be of one standard desktop and one standard notebook (for both Mac and Windows), with only a few more advanced computers where clearly justified. This strategy works well because this year's standard computer is more advanced than last year's special, advanced, expensive computer and provides a larger number of new computers to be purchased.

Rurik Spence and his PC Support Services group are available for consultation as you develop your requests and to answer any questions you may have.  In addition to Rurik's group, faculty may consult with Jason Parkhill, Director of Academic ITS, or me for advice.

For most people, what is required about once every four years is a standard replacement computer (faster, more storage, more memory, more media capabilities, etc.), or a switch to a notebook computer from a desktop computer or vice versa. Simply requesting "Upgrade Needed" on the form is adequate if the general needs or problems that have been experienced are described as above. If there are special concerns, these should be noted.

Requests for notebook computers will again be closely examined and clear justification will be required. Unfortunately, the cost of a notebook computer appropriately configured for use at Colby is significantly higher than that of a basic desktop computer, making the cost of portability very high.

General Policies on Allocations

There are some general priorities and policies that can help guide you in your own prioritization of requests.

1.  Macintosh OS X and Windows 7 will be the College standards on new machines.

2.  Generally, there is only a single College computer allocation to each individual staff or faculty member. There will not be an opportunity to be allocated both a desktop computer and a notebook computer, for example. However, the configuration of a notebook computer, if allocated, will make it comparable to a standard desktop computer through the addition of a flat panel display, external keyboard and mouse for ergonomic reasons.

3.  Computers and other equipment purchased with grant, endowed chair, department or other funds are not eligible for upgrades or replacement through this allocation process without prior approval.  It is strongly recommended, when a grant proposal is being developed to purchase desktop computers that will be used extensively by students, that Ray Phillips be involved to determine whether future replacement can be incorporated in the regular ITS-funded replacement cycle instead of having to obtain external funds for replacements.  Likewise, a request to include desktop computers previously purchased using non-ITS funding in the ITS-funded replacement cycle may be submitted to Ray Phillips.  Because of the long term cost of replacements, approval will require significant justification, including documentation of direct student use in the academic program.  The Academic and Administrative Vice Presidents will review Ray's recommendations prior to final approval.

4.  All computers, computing devices (including iPads/iPods), or software purchased using any College funds must be purchased through ITS and included in the College inventory, and will be supported, repaired and maintained by ITS. If you have questions about a purchase, please contact the ITS Administrative Secretary at 4201.

5.  Priority in allocations for academic areas are: (1) activities directly involving students, (2) faculty activities involving the curriculum, (3) scholarly activity of the faculty, and (4) administrative activities of the faculty.

6.  Priorities in allocations for administrative areas: (1) equipment to enable high priority tasks within the department, (2) equipment to increase efficiency and/or productivity, and (3) equipment to meet other needs.

7.  Hardware needs arising throughout the year should be communicated to me.  It is possible to make additional allocations of upgrades during the year.

8.  If you have questions about this process, please send me e-mail (Ray.Phillips@colby.edu) or call me (4209).