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Computing Equipment Lifecycle

by Cal Doval published Aug 30, 2012 11:45 AM, last modified Sep 13, 2012 09:21 AM
Computing Resources Unit standards and practices for the life-cycles of computers, printers, and mobile devices.

  • The Systems Architect or other CRU staff will meet with unit heads to determine appropriate levels of computer equipment needed for Faculty, Staff, and Student Staff positions required to achieve the business needs of the unit. Using the stated and/or expected budget for the unit, a computer equipment lifecycle will be established in which computers will be purchased and disposed of on regular intervals, and warranties will be purchased commensurate with these intervals to avoid issues with warranty-lapsed equipment.
  • Out of warranty hardware will not be removed from desks nor denied support during the gradual transition to a 100% in-warranty environment. Out of warranty computers which are currently in service as of 4/1/2011 will be supported until they are replaced with new hardware. Out of warranty machines may not be introduced into our computing environment, for instance computers purchased from the Bargain Barn. Out of warranty machines which are replaced will be removed and properly disposed of through the campus Bargain Barn as required by UC policy.

Why this policy? Why now?

As budgets grow tighter, we’re all suffering from a lack of resources to accomplish our mission in the College. Below are some reasons why this policy is fiscally sound for the Dean’s Office and its supported units.

  • Out of warranty computers cause more and longer work stoppages.  Work stoppages equate to staff time being paid for but not utilized. As we focus on completing the same amount of work (or more in some cases) with fewer staff, work stoppages become more and more costly.
  • Out of warranty computers do not perform as well as newer models. Staff time is spent waiting for computers to complete even simple tasks, subtly adding to the cost of staff as a whole. Per campus Cyber-Safety standards, computers must be running software with the latest security patches installed, which in some cases means running software not intended to be run on older hardware at reduced performance.
  • Out of warranty computers cost more to support. Support staff must spend more time on older computers to keep them up to date and functional. Grooming machines of old software versions and periodically rebuilding them from ground up consume a great deal of staff hours that could be dedicated to providing more responsive support for issues like printing errors, proactive maintenance, and speedier deployment of new systems.
  • Every unit that plans a budget for equipment replacement on a regular cycle will enjoy a “no surprises” balance sheet when it’s time to look at the books. If an in-warranty device fails it will not represent a financial hardship to the unit. The device will be repaired or replaced without cost to the unit, allowing for dollars to be spent at the time of the unit’s choosing instead of requiring an “emergency” allocation.

Why can’t I keep my old computer for a new staff member/student staff member? It was working fine when I bought the new one.

This is question we get a lot. Here are a few reasons why this scenario works against all of us in some way.

  • Providing a computer isn’t simply a one-time cost at a cash register. A significant portion of the cost of providing a computer is the ongoing support of that computer. When you purchase a new computer and don’t remove the old one, you’ve effectively doubled the support costs on that seat in the organization, without any prior planning or notice. If you had a staff member who was moving to a nicer office in a building where you paid for square footage, would you assume you could keep the old office for another new hire for free?
  • To be effective at work staff and students must work on reliable computers with standardized software. Varying versions of the operating system and core business applications lead to problems in collaborative work environments. CRU maintains compatible application stacks whenever possible but these issues still arise.
  • Part of funding a staff or student position is providing them with workspace and materials. Desks, chairs, staplers, etc. have a long usable life and can be replaced without much hassle but are still requirements. In the 21st century a reliable computer is also a requirement for productive work.

What do you do with our old computers? If we can’t keep them here, can I take them home or give them away to a charity?

The disposition of University-owned hardware is governed by a clear set of policies relating to inventory as well as Cyber-Safety. Here are some facts about the system.

  • University policy requires that all computing equipment purchased using departmental funds have to be retired through the University Bargain Barn salvage program. We catalogue all old hardware and computers that we reclaim from departments and then we pay the Bargain Barn to come and pick up the equipment.  The Bargain Barn attempts to resell hardware and computers in working condition (most equipment can’t be resold).  If the Bargain Barn does sell the old hardware they keep the profit to cover their own operational costs.  See: UC Davis Policy and Procedure Manual, Chapter 350: Supplies and Equipment, Section 80: Disposition of Excess and Surplus Property (http://manuals.ucdavis.edu/ppm/350/350-80.pdf).
  • Equipment purchased on non-University funds may be redirected under certain circumstances.
  • In the event that we release equipment to any party outside the Dean’s Office, (including the Bargain Barn) all data including the operating system data will be securely wiped from the hard disk(s) to comply with security and licensing policies.

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The goal of the Computing Resources Unit is to provide the best possible customer service, application development, and technology infrastructure to support the business needs of the Dean’s Office and the College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences and its departments.