Desktop Computing Hardware Standards for Penn: 1997-98 Annual Update
Office of the Vice Provost for Information Systems & Computing
Important Note: this document remains on the computing web for archival purposes only - much of the standards and contact information in this document is obsolete.
Information Systems & Computing, in collaboration with the Penn community, annually publishes recommended and minimum standards for new desktop computers. The standards help hold training and support costs in check and make it possible for people across campus to work together. They clarify buying decisions and help in planning equipment life cycles. They also help determine how ISC's efforts in these areas will be focused in support of campus providers of computing services. For "supported" desktops ISC provides specific training, documentation, and hardware and software problem diagnosis. The revised standard configurations continue to be "freshness dated," with ISC support guaranteed for a specified period of time.
These standards apply to institutionally-owned computers. Students should consult their schools with respect to recommendations for individually-owned desktops.
Highlight of Changes:
Desktop systems purchased under the previous standards will continue to be supported until their previously documented expiration. ISC will continue to review desktop standards each year in light of University needs and industry changes. As new desktop standards are issued, they too will specify support guarantees.
There are two levels of standards: desktops for general-purpose computing (like e-mail, word processors and spreadsheets), and desktops for new administrative systems (like those used by business administrators and other administrative staff for Project Cornerstone). The standards for new administrative systems are somewhat higher than the standards for general-purpose computing. A machine that can access Cornerstone systems can handle general office functions, but the reverse is not necessarily true. Research and instructional computing may require more specialized machines.
As new administrative applications become available, especially useful to faculty and students, it becomes less clear whether the distinction between "administrative" and "academic" users is useful. All users should consider Cornerstone-compliant computers for new purchases to ensure compatibility with new campus systems.
The Computer Connection offers configurations that match the standards below. In addition, buyers with limited budgets may choose to trade off various components of a desktop system depending on specific needs: for example, memory versus additional hard disk space versus a larger monitor. Remember, it is easier to add additional memory or peripherals later, but some components (like a smaller monitor) cannot be effectively upgraded.
If your school or department is considering major changes or investments, ISC strongly recommends a consultation to weigh pros and cons in today's rapidly changing environment. Contact Noam Arzt, ISC Executive Director of Information Technology Architecture (arzt at isc.upenn.edu; 898-3029). Up-to-date standards and additional information are available at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/arch/standards/desktop.html.
All desktop systems should have important data backed up and be virus-free. Additional information on information system security can be at http://www.upenn.edu/computing/security/.
For more information on off-campus network connection see http://www.upenn.edu/computing/remote/.
Desktop Standards for General-purpose Computing
If you are buying a new machine, here are the recommended standards. ISC will support the Windows 95 recommendation until July 2001, but support for the Macintosh recommendation is only until July 2000. Buying the best computer you can afford usually pays off in extra years of service from the machine, so you may prefer to buy a more powerful configuration:
Desktop Standards for Cornerstone Administrative Systems
Cornerstone systems have already begun to be deployed and will continue to roll out. If you are purchasing a computer at this time and expect to use any of the Cornerstone Systems (currently general ledger, purchasing, accounts payable, data warehouse and budget planning) in the future, buy the recommended standard below. Buying the best computer you can afford usually pays off in extra years of service from the machine, so you may prefer to buy a more powerful configuration.
Once again, Macintoshes are not recommended for Cornerstone purchases at this time. This is due in large part to uncertainly over the availability of client software for the Macintosh. Support commitments made in previous years to the Macintosh will be honored at least through their support guarantee dates. The current releases of Cornerstone financial applications (General ledger, Accounts Payable and Purchasing) can be accessed by existing desktops that fall below the standards described below, and even by terminals. Business Objects, the currently-supported product for access to the Data Warehouse, is best supported on a Windows desktop.
Macintosh computers with Pentium DOS co-processors may be used, if properly configured to satisfy MS-Windows standards.
Fuller and continuing support for Apple products will be actively reconsidered during the coming year as we assess the availability of new systems and the future of Apple.
A more complete discussion of the printing strategy, including supported printers, for Cornerstone financial applications is available from the Cornerstone home page under FinMIS Technical Architecture.
Desktop Standards for Existing General-purpose Computing
The following minimum configurations for general-purpose office computing represent the general departmental purchase recommendations from three years ago . They will be supported by ISC for one more year only. Transition from these configurations as soon as possible to the new purchase standards:
Appendix: Laptop Guidelines
Generally, laptop computers cost more than similarly functioning desktop computers and lag at least a generation behind in technology. If you are planning to purchase a laptop to use as a primary desktop workstation it should comply with the appropriate general-purpose or Cornerstone minimum standard configurations. Due to the physical conditions endured by many laptops, and the rapid changes in technology that affect repair costs, expect laptop computers to have a shorter useful life than typical desktop computers.
Other than some slight differences in peripherals, support for laptop computers is generally no different than for desktop computers. The following guidelines represent ISC's recommendations for laptop computer configurations:
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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