Procedure 7.12.01 - Information Systems Hardware and Software


Guidelines

Information Systems (IS) Environment

It is important that employees have technical information available concerning the IS Environment so that they can answer questions from students, vendors, and others in need of that information. The IS environment is in a constant state of change due to the changing needs of students and employees. Basic information about the IS environment is described below.

Basic Hardware

The following are some of the brands of hardware purchased by the college:

  1. HP and Dell Servers
  2. Dell Workstations
  3. Dell Laptops
  4. Cisco and Meraki Firewalls and Network Switches

Network Operating Software

The college’s data network has grown to enterprise size and thus requires constant balancing between providing services and maintaining the network’s integrity and security. SCC operates an IP protocol Ethernet network to provide connectivity, print, and Internet services. Microsoft Active Directory (AD) is used to authenticate users to the network and to control access to Microsoft server resources. Authentication and access control to other network resources are controlled by the specific server such as the administrative software servers. The college’s preference is to operate network software in the client/server mode, which assures product integrity while placing stringent interoperability demands on that software.

Network Application Software

Network application software should adhere to the following:

  1. It should be certified for use on an IP based network or a Windows server operating system such as Windows Server 2019 and be certified for use with the latest Windows 10.
  2. It should be designed to load on a server and then allow a workstation load with most files residing on the server.
  3. The company must provide sufficient technical support for installation and maintenance.

Software Replacement

The need to upgrade instructional software is driven by industry standards and by the textbook publishers and software included with their books. Instructional software upgrades are also driven by the needs of SCC’s customers and the versions of software they are using at work and at home.  Administrative software upgrades are usually driven by a need to be compatible with customers, vendors, and counterparts at other institutions. Another driving factor in administrative upgrades is the need for instructors to have the same software in their offices as they are teaching in the labs so that they can help students effectively.

The IT staff should be involved in the evaluation of all new software prior to purchase, thus utilizing their experience and expertise in assuring that the college has a working and manageable product for its customers.

  1. The software must be discussed within the department and submitted to the director of information technology by the vice president for the area making the request.
  2. A legal (license or evaluation) copy of the software must be obtained for test purposes. A copy of the license or evaluation agreement must be presented to the IT staff before testing.
  3. The software must be installed in the test lab and evaluated by the IT staff for network and hardware issues and by the requester for proper functioning on the network.
  4. A requisition must be processed and approved by the vice president and the director of information technology. When the purchase order and software are in hand, the software can be loaded on the network for use.
  5. If the software is for use in the instructional lab(s), it needs to be loaded prior to rebuilding the workstations between semesters so that it can be incorporated at that time.
  6. Timelines must be adhered to if the software is going to be available when needed by users. A legal copy of the software needs to be in the IT staff’s hands no less than six weeks prior to use on the network. The IT staff and the requestor have four weeks to load, debug, and test the software.  The other two weeks are used to process a purchase order so that the software is legal. If new software is shipped for permanent installation, then an additional four weeks are probably needed to allow the purchase order to be received and the product to be shipped. If the software is for use in the instructional labs, then the time needs to be calculated backward from the end of the semester so that the software can be incorporated when the lab workstations are rebuilt between semesters.

Hardware Replacement

The major factor limiting the college’s ability to upgrade software is the capabilities of the computer hardware. Ideally, workstations and laptops are replaced every five years with the following priorities:

  1. Instructional/Open Labs
  2. Faculty, as needed, with priority given to computer class instructors
  3. Administration on an as-needed basis

SCC’s obsolescence policy for printers and network equipment calls for a seven-year life cycle. Advances in printing technologies force the periodic replacement of printers that simply cannot process the newer commands being sent by the software. Likewise, old network switches become more of a liability than an asset as the security threats become more sophisticated.

Requests for interim upgrades of memory or disk space or for replacement before the normal five years must be made through the appropriate vice president to the director of information technology. All requests for upgrades are evaluated on a case-by-case basis with proven need being the ultimate determinant.

The intent of this policy is to establish an orderly obsolescence of equipment based on expected life cycles. The director of information technology will annually identify and request the funds necessary to replace all hardware that become obsolete within the fiscal year. However, since sufficient funding plays such a significant role in the replacement of hardware, it may be impossible to replace all obsolete hardware each year. Obsolete hardware not replaced in the year it became obsolete is given priority in the following fiscal years replacement plan.

Replaced Hardware and Software

All replaced software is held for one year at which time it is disposed of in the appropriate manner. The documentation is recycled as normal paper waste.  The software media must be disposed of according to the license agreement. In most cases, there are four alternatives for disposal: 1) Magnetic software media can be erased with a degaussing tool; 2) Any software media can be shredded or otherwise cut into unusable pieces. 3) Any software media can be dropped in an acid bath; 4) Any software media can be buried at an approved landfill. However, most licenses require that the owner observe the software being buried.

All replaced hardware systems must be appropriately reassigned, salvaged, or sold through the equipment coordinator. All hard drives will be imaged with ONLY the operating system and hardware drivers prior to being reassigned, salvaged, or sold. If a hard drive is in a condition that does not allow imaging, it is disposed of according to the above guidelines for software media.

Reviewed and Last Updated on October 19, 2020.