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Systems Architecture 7th Edition

Systems Architecture (7th Edition)

Book Edition7th Edition
SubjectComputer Science
Page 520

A Standard Hardware Platform?


Cooper State University (CSU) is a large school with more than 1000 faculty members and a full-time enrollment of 20,000 students. Academic programs span a wide range of fields, including hard sciences, humanities, engineering, education, management, law, and medicine. CSU offers many graduate degree programs and is highly ranked in terms of externally funded research.


CSU has a campus-wide computing organization, Computer Information Services (CIS), which is responsible for supporting the computing and information-processing needs of both academic and administrative users. It supports administrative users by operating a large mainframe computer, several LANs, and many administrative applications, such as payroll, accounts payable, class scheduling and registration, and student

academic records. It supports academic users with shared midrange computers and file servers and many microcomputers in classroom labs and general-purpose facilities. CIS also operates the campus network that links most offices, classrooms, and buildings to the Internet.


CIS has been under considerable budgetary pressure for several years. Demand for computing services has grown rapidly, but funding hasn't kept pace. Declining hardware costs have been a budgetary bright spot, but they have been more than offset by increases in support costs for CSU's wide variety of hardware platforms, software packages, and administrative applications. Integrating this disparate collection of hardware and software with the growing campus network has been a difficult and costly task.


Recently, CIS proposed standardizing the hardware platforms and OSs for microcomputers and midrange computers to minimize support costs, contracting with a single vendor for each computer class, and negotiating volume pricing on hardware, software, and maintenance. All CSU workstation and midrange computer purchases, including those made with non-CIS funds, would be part of the contract.


Reactions to the proposal have ranged from indifference to near revolt. Many administrative and academic departments that rely on CIS for most computing and information-processing needs are supportive, provided CIS can continue meeting their needs. Some academic departments that fund their own computer purchases are concerned with loss of control over the acquisition process.


The computer science, engineering, information systems, and physics departments are vehemently opposed to the proposal. They argue that their computing needs are unique and require hardware and software at the cutting edge of technology. They claim that standardized platforms would lag behind and interfere with their teaching and research missions. They point out that most of their computing needs are met with funds

from external sources, such as research grants and contracts, and oppose restrictions on how this money is spent.




  • Are the benefits that CIS anticipates from a standardized platform likely to be realized?

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