Standardizing computer equipment at USask

Talking tech with Shari

By Shari Baraniuk, CIO, Information and Communication Technologies

As we start to plan for a new year ahead, it’s time to think about updating your tech equipment! A new desktop, laptop or other tool always comes with a bit of excitement…but if your upgrade isn’t optimized to our university-wide systems, it can also be a source of frustration. This conundrum has had me thinking a lot about the standardization of our IT equipment.

I know the word “standardization” can come across as counterintuitive to all the creative and innovative pedagogy and research we do at USask. As Chief Information Officer, however, I see standardization as a vital component of the support we offer our campus community, helping everyone cultivate success in everything they do.

Benefits of standardizing technology

At ICT, our goal is to ensure that the IT hardware and software you need to do your job are available and reliable. In doing so, we can provide you with several benefits that will support the work you do and enhance everyone’s collective experience at USask. Here’s just a few: 

  • Quality of service:  Standardization of equipment provides a benefit to our entire university community as it allows IT support staff to become expert resources for key equipment. Our team can focus their skills and knowledge so that they can respond to and resolve issues faster and more efficiently. We can also establish long term relationships with vendors to access several support and warranty benefits. This improves productivity throughout the university by having reliable equipment with responsive and comprehensive support when needed.

  • Cost savings: Through volume purchasing and vendor relationships, your department will benefit from lower, often hidden, computer purchasing expenses such as the cost of time required for purchasing, configurations, deployments, support and maintenance. Additionally, professional-grade equipment also provides higher quality components, more computing power and better warranties.
  • Alignment with IT security policies: By deploying equipment centrally, we can maintain standard security protocols on the machines. This allows us to automate a lot of our upgrades and security patches. Time is usually of the essence when a security breach gets detected so the quicker we are able to apply patches the better for everyone.

So, what does standardization mean for USask?

  • IT equipment website: This fall, we will launch our new IT equipment site. We strongly encourage people to purchase the hardware they need through this site. One major benefit to you is that with a higher volume of purchasing through suppliers, we can achieve lower vendor prices. In addition, there will be no setup fee as these computers will be optimized for our standard setup. We can also ensure that your equipment is ready to go and fully optimized to the university-wide systems as soon as it arrives at your desk.
  • Support for Apple computers: As we move towards standardization, our new IT equipment site will provide a link to the Apple Education Store. Because of Apple’s business practices, we cannot sell direct-to-consumer. We do recognize that for some, Apple products are the best option to conduct work efficiently and we will do our best to provide support when required. So, keep an eye out for my next post where I outline what Apple users need to know to get the most out of their equipment while working within university systems.

One of the aspirations in our Technology Plan is to provide technology that boosts productivity, strengthens security, and enhances outcomes. Standardization of our technology ensures that we can accomplish this by allowing our ICT staff to focus less on the basic technology requirements and more on the innovative and unique needs for our research and pedagogy. By helping you find and setup the right IT tools for what you need, we can help ensure that we are on the path to becoming the University the World Needs.