It boiled down to economics at our campus, as it appears to be at yours. It
was done a year before I arrived, which was two years ago. Things were
getting out of control - decentralized, individual choices on PC or MACs,
uncontrolled network growth, no centralized help desk support, no funds for
routine client equipment replacement, lots of end user complaints. PCs were
chosen because the college teaches classes requiring MS products, even
though some of our IT people agree MACs and their software are better in
We had many highly disgruntled faculty (and many still carry a grudge
against this department.) As I have heard it, they were just told tough
luck, we can't afford it, this is the way it's going to be. It's either
MACs or jobs that have to go, we're choosing equipment if that's ok with
you, since who knows whose job could be picked as an alternative. All
faculty justification for MACs that I have heard was personal preference.
All software that faculty were running on MACs has also been available
either as a platform port or as a different but similar functioning product
on PCs, so there were no hard reasons, only preferences. I had one faculty
member in my office fuming, foaming, and screaming this past year when he
was turned down for a network-capable MAC replacing his network-disconnected
dinosaur MAC, but again, it was preference. No go. So be it.
After shutting down multiple client platforms, it took us about three years
to standardize on the computers in the primary labs and classrooms. This
year we're getting a handle on locating and managing all the miscellaneous
student PCs tucked away in corners and mini labs. We don't even know where
they all are, and keep getting surprised, after we thought we had them all.
Some were purchased with grants, some were deployed by users as faculty
computer hand-me-downs when new computers were purchased. These "mini labs"
have been a cause of uncontrolled network growth, have been difficult to
monitor, justify, and support. They also represent resource power domains
for some areas, whether they are used much or not, so the future will be
interesting. Our long range plan, once we determine where mini labs are
justifiable, is to give them refurbished 3 yr old PCs from the primary labs
as replacements, and use them for a couple more years. We added network
signon to all computers, so with a bit of database work, we can start to
monitor use by PC over the next year or two to help justify or refute their
reasons for existence.
Over the last couple years, by standardizing equipment in the labs,
classrooms, and for faculty-staff PC replacement, adding a trained
student-supported help desk with staff to assist, adding a tape library to
backup all servers and shared storage, and virus protection network-wide,
the maintenance job got simpler. As a result, services have improved, in
spite of not being able to add much staff, and the fact that
network-attached equipment has been growing at 25-40% per year. As a
result, many MAC users who were dissapointed at first have, over time,
become somewhat consoled by service improvements. Doesn't change their
preferences but they understand the economics and see the beneficial
The campuses I've seen that are most cost-effectively providing multi
platform support, are using Unix on their servers. It still requires help
desk and client support personnel familiar with and keeping up on both PC/MS
and MAC technology, a non trivial task, and doubles complexity in a world
that's already increasing daily in complexity while staffing and funding
(esp. for education) seems to shrink.
In our case, supporting multiple platforms these days when we are wedded to
MS anyway is a luxury we just can't afford. We don't have all our critical
staff already experienced in Unix, and have no funds to add more staff or
handle the extra work to go through a platform transition. We don't even
have an extra server kicking around that we could use for testing
deployment - all have been pressed into service.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Pat Pettit" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2003 11:14 AM
Subject: [CIO] Platforms
> Due to budget constraints, we are looking at standardizing with one
> computing platform. If you have gone through this process, I would like
> to hear comments about the transition or reasons why your faculty or
> students were steadfast in their belief that having access to one
> platform or another (PC and Mac) was necessary.
> I am talking about hard reasons versus soft, such as preference. My VP
> of Finance wants hard evidence that supports the choice of one platform
> over another to continue spending extra dollars in support, maintenance,
> software, and service for two platforms instead of one.
> Thanks for your help,
> Pat Pettit
> Director of Academic Technology
> Millikin University
> 1184 West Main
> Decatur, IL 62522
> Phone 217-362-6488
> Fax 217-362-6494
> [log in to unmask]
> "A little dissatisfaction creates progress."
> Dorothy Cowser Yancy
> President of Johnson C. Smith University
> Charlotte, N.C.
> Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent
Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/memdir/cg/.
Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/memdir/cg/.