Standards Definition and Use

Introduction

The premise of adopting standards is to enable innovation of technology within an environment that is well understood and defined. Once the standards have been established, the transition from the current environment to the evolving future environment will be planned and budgeted for. These standards should provide direction for the development of the future environment. The transition to standards will occur over time; the intention of establishing standards is not to enforce immediate compliance nor is it meant to preempt diversity and academic freedom. The planned and budgeted transition should take into account the current environment, the priorities and business directions of the University, and the academic needs of students and faculty. The Office of Information Technology (OIT) will provide assistance in transition planning to the University community.Standards need to be reviewed and updated on a regular and consistent basis. The technology in many areas, such as desktop computing, is evolving rapidly and the standards in these areas will need to be updated as the technology changes. The standards in other areas, such as network protocols, may change more slowly but still need to be reviewed and evaluated regularly. The procurement of hardware, software and computing services is a vital process for the successful implementation of technology initiatives. The following are examples that need to be considered for purchasing:

  • Review the cost benefits whether to lease or purchase the product;
  • Purchase a maintenance agreement on a product at time of acquisition;
  • The University’s information technology environment is heterogeneous rather than homogeneous.
  • The environment is made up of hardware, software, and other components from a variety of vendors rather than a single vendor.
  • Standards are important in providing the rules via which these products interact with each other.
  • Standards are essential in ensuring that diverse systems can communicate with each other.
  • Standards such as network protocols and interfaces between applications allow systems on a variety of hardware and operating system platforms to share information and data.
  • Support costs are a very significant portion of the cost of ownership in information technology.
  • A well-defined set of standards can provide the needed level of flexibility and diversity while, at the same time, providing for reduced support costs and economies of scale.
  • The University must adopt a set of standards that provides flexibility and diversity while at the same time ensuring compatibility across the enterprise.
  • Standards may include a particular vendor or a particular product, but in other cases may be more generic.

Definition

Standards provide a basis for reuse, inter-networking, cooperation, and portability of hardware and software. Standards allow different products to interact. This level of interaction may vary from an interface between products to true product integration. The level of specificity varies greatly from standard to standard. The two types of standards are de jure and de facto.De jure standards are generally known as public or industry standards, established by public bodies.

De facto standards are generally created by a single vendor with market dominance or a highly specialized niche product.

Use of standards

The University will strive to select a single product by category for both the academic and administrative arenas to achieve the stated standard. The standards categories must be diverse enough to promote the needs of the academic community. OIT’s ability to support a product may affect whether or not it is defined as a standard. Therefore, based on a particular curriculum or academic need, the presence or absence of a product within a standard cannot by itself preempt the acquisition and use of a different product or technology.

In the definition and the regular review of categories, the University will strive to optimize:

  • Economies of scale in purchasing
  • Benefits of competition among vendors
  • Support
  • Maintenance and repair
  • Training
  • Reusability
  • A justification has been included to support the decision of selecting a single product for the stated standard until the next regular review.

Information technology's ability to support products that do not fall within the standards may be limited. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that products purchased comply with the standards as outlined in this document unless there is an academic need for a different product. As new versions of products are introduced, standards should be updated as part of the regular review process to reflect the new versions. This process will have to be identified in more detail to handle the different scenarios that will occur.

The following is a list of areas for which standards have been defined or will be defined in the future:

  • Hardware, e.g. desktop computers, servers, etc.
  • Software, e.g. operating systems, word processing, database management systems, etc.
  • Network, e.g. network protocols, network hardware components, etc.

These areas were broken down into categories. The following items were defined within each category:

  • Category- name of the standard
  • Definition- description of the standard
  • Rationale- reason for the standard
  • Standard
  • Endorsed standard - a standard that OIT is either currently capable of or intends to become fully capable of supporting
  • Mandatory standard - a standard that is mandated by OIT for compatibility and connectivity of the network infrastructure (mandatory standards should be avoided whenever possible and must be justified in the category description)
  • Preferred poduct (administrative)– product selected for Administrative functions. Should be the same as the Academic product when possible.
  • Responsible function (administrative) –The person or group with primary responsibility for selection and use of the actual product, including version and model options.
  • End-user

System administrator (information technology consulted)

IT (Office of Information Technology only)

  • Preferred product (academic) - product selected for academic functions. The selection of a preferred product for academic functions is not meant to preempt academic freedom or inhibit diversity in information technology for academic use. If there is no reason for using a different product, then it is recommended to be the same as the Administrative product.
  • Responsible function (academic) –the person or group with primary responsibility for selection and use of the actual product, including version and model options.

End user

System administrator (information technology consulted)

IT (Office of Information Technology only)

  • Alternative product(s) – products that, while not endorsed, may still be supported by information technology. While the University’s commitment to academic freedom and diversity means that a variety of information technology products will be available, IT's ability to assist users in the installation, operation and maintenance of unendorsed products may be limited or nonexistent.
  • Justification for preferred product(s) - justify the choice of preferred product(s)
  • Technical considerations - any technical information that assists in the application of the preferred product in support of the standard
  • Review cycle - how often the standard is reviewed
  • Timeline - dates that reflect changes in the standard