Standards for Information Technology

Fall 2005


Links to Stories:


Security Today


The Outlook Exchange Project


Why Change to Exchange?


General Security Practices


Dangers & Annoyances


September Computer Literacy Workshops


Security Begins at Home


Standards for Information Technology


What Version of Windows and Office Do You Use?


Kimís Column


Editor-in-Chief: Kim Tracy, Executive Director of University Computing


Managing Editor: Anna Brown, Computer Literacy Training Coordinator


Please send all comments, questions, and cajoling to

University Computing Services is currently investigating and deploying standards for our information technology components when appropriate. The Outlook using Exchange project is an example as described above. There are several motivations for deploying standards across the University. The main reasons are as follows:

Platform for other projects
In particular, we are preparing for the deployment of the University Information System (ERP replacement) which will be easier if we have a stable, well-known platform for everyone who will be using the new system. For example, we will be able to leverage other Exchange features where appropriate once we know that everyone is already using that platform.

Cost of maintenance
The more solutions we have for a given functionality, the more it costs to keep those solutions up and running. For example, the more different types of PCs and types of operating systems, the more different system images UCS has to maintain and keep expertise available. The more regular and known the computing environment, the easier it is to predict problems and to fix problems before they are discovered by end users.

Related to the cost of maintenance, is the reliability of the services and solutions provided. That is, the ability to keep on top of updates and to deliver enhancements to the services is greatly enhanced by having fewer environments to worry about.

Cost of procurement
By having a smaller set of solutions, we increase our ability to order en masse for a solution. For example, by standardizing on Dell for PC computers, we have been able to negotiate more substantial discounts.

Ability to scale and rapidly deploy
Having a standard solution (or maybe a couple of options) gives the ability to more quickly deploy that solution to other locations and other parts of the University. For example, if we were to deploy a second e-mail solution, that would require roughly doubling the resources needed to support our e-mail. However, if we deploy the standard e-mail solution to a new set of users it only requires a few additional resources to maintain more accounts on the same system.

A key point is that there are times when the benefits of using something other than the standardized solution can outweigh the benefits of using the standard. Additionally, standards tend to have a shelf life and need to evolve as well. So, UCS will be continuing looking for the next generation of standards and would appreciate any input you may have on how to evolve our services.


In summary, IT standards can go a long way to helping improve NEIUís computing environment, but should be taken in the context of providing the best possible service for NEIU.