Ag IT Advisory Group (AITAG)

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Hardware and Software Baselines

Overview

The objective of an IT baseline is to identify software and hardware that will meet 80% of the IT needs of NDSU Agriculture 80% of the time. The wide range of IT needs of the 1,100 people who comprise NDSU agriculture prevents the organization from centrally supporting all the IT equipment and software needed by the faculty and staff. Thus the goal of “meeting 80% of the organization’s IT needs 80% of the time” is based on the premise that the majority of our IT needs are quite similar; such as word processing, e-mail, web browsing, spreadsheet, presentation, Web development, and other common IT activities. The IT baseline also specifies the hardware needed to operate these software applications, both in terms of minimum capabilities for existing hardware and recommended capabilities for new hardware.

  • NDSU Agriculture will provide technical support for baseline hardware and software.
  • Individuals and departments with unique IT needs will NOT be prohibited from acquiring and using the necessary equipment and software.
  • Applications or equipment that deviate from the baseline are the responsibility of the individual or department requiring that service. These users will be responsible for acquiring, installing and maintaining non-baseline items.
  • Non-baseline IT equipment and software must be compatible with the underlying IT infrastructure of NDSU and must not interfere with the IT activities of other users.

AITAG will regularly review (about every six months) NDSU Agriculture’s IT baseline as technology and IT needs change. Revisions to the baseline will include adding new IT, as well as removing older IT. This means the baseline will not always include the most recent developments. Instead, technology will be added to the baseline when appropriate, according to the number of potential users and how well the technology meets expected needs.  Older technology will be removed so IT staff do not have to spend resources to support old IT when only a small number of individuals still use it.

Goals for an IT Baseline

  • Provide better IT support by reducing the variation among hardware and software used throughout NDSU Agriculture
  • Provide everyone within the NDSU Agriculture a predefined level of IT support
  • Allow individual departments or units to acquire the IT needed to fulfill their responsibilities, but IT support needs beyond the baseline will be the responsibility of the department, unit or individual
  • Improve training for IT users and individuals who provide IT support on an informal basis to their department or unit

Establishing baseline hardware and software standards will:

  • allow most IT users to focus their IT training and skills on the baseline
  • allow IT staff to focus their attention on the baseline
  • make it easier for the organization to provide IT support through a combination of central and distributed IT staff
  • reduce the time to set up new systems
  • reduce the time required to make repairs
  • Give users the flexibility to meet needs that require non-baseline IT

Software and Hardware

The software baseline specifies categories; programs and versions; and whether it is being used for new installations, maintained for current installations, or will likely be removed from the baseline in the foreseeable future.

The hardware baseline specifies minimum capabilities for existing equipment, and recommended capabilities for new equipment.

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