Computing Labs - Software Additions and Modifications

Last Updated: 06/01/2011

OIT is responsible for the administration and maintenance of many computing facilities on the Boulder campus. We are responsible for providing services requiring centralized resources or administration such as campus-wide networking and Internet access. We are tasked with providing common software applications such as those used for document creation or communications and OIT purchases and deploys these applications to all OIT managed labs. In addition, it is often useful to make discipline-specific tools such as statistical analysis, CAD, or math programs available for student use when these more specific applications are requested and supplied by departments.

OIT maintains an ongoing process of evaluating and deploying new infrastructure and technical capabilities to allow us to support the needs of lab users as efficiently and as flexibly as possible. Coupled with a robust policy of timely requests and vigorous testing and verification, OIT is committed to ensuring that all supported labs are available to support the academic mission of the university.

Because of the number of faculty that utilize these labs, each department is responsible for designating a lab coordinator who takes the role of liaison to OIT for the lab or labs the department uses and provides a single point of contact for all lab change requests. Anyone wishing to have software changes made for an upcoming semester should contact the appropriate departmental liaison no later than six weeks before the end of the current semester to ensure that all requests are received by OIT in sufficient time to be evaluated.

OIT receives many requests to add applications software to existing computer labs. In most cases these requests can be accomodated. However, because of the limited resources in the lab and the heavy demand for them, modifications and additions must be done carefully to avoid disruptions. As these changes make demands on our staff, both for the initial installations and ongoing maintenance, OIT has adopted the following procedures for lab software changes:

  1. Designated lab liaisons will receive an email 6-8 weeks before the end of each semester providing instructions on how to request software changes and updates for the upcoming semester (Spring or Fall). Liaisons then have approximately 4 weeks to communicate their requests to OIT.
  2. OIT reviews all requests and informs the liaisons of any issues that are present. All requested software must be able to run on the installed lab hardware and under the installed operating system and must be supported under those constraints by the software publisher.
  3. If new software or upgrades to existing software are needed, the liaison will be responsible for providing OIT with either media and licenses, or speedtype information so that media and licenses can be purchased. If requested by the liaison, OIT will test an "evaluation" copy of an application. This software must be identical to the version intended for purchase and will need to be provided by the department. Licenses for these programs should not be purchased before OIT has determined that the software can be deployed to the lab.
  4. OIT will create and test a loadset using all of the software that needs to be deployed to the lab. This testing will be necessarily limited in scope as mastery of complex software applications is beyond the scope of OIT responsibilities, but all loadsets will be tested for application conflicts, basic file management, printing, security, and network functionality.
  5. OIT will install a prototype loadset onto one machine in each lab. This loadset will reflect all upgrades, additions, and deletions to the lab software configuration for the upcoming semester. Liaisons will have approximately 3 weeks to evaluate this prototype and communiate any issues found to OIT. During this time, OIT will address any incompatibilities found and make changes to software settings, but will not install any additional software.
  6. OIT will schedule lab closures for installation of the finalized semester loadset during the two weeks preceding the beginning of the new semester. These closures typically last one or two days.
  7. All software requiring licenses must have have accompanying licenses sufficient to use the software on all machines in a lab simultaneously. License compliance will be verified before the software is installed.

Because of the need to maximize system reliability and accessibility in the labs, OIT has implemented the following additional policies:

  • Except in very unusual circumstances, no software will be added to a lab loadset after it has been deployed.
  • Any copy protection method employed by a software application will be evaluated before the software will approved for lab use. Under no circumstances will software requiring hardware copy protection devices be approved for lab deployment. OIT supports a number of non-hardware copy protection tools commonly used by software publishers and may, at OIT discretion, adopt others and reserves the right to refuse installation of any software that uses problematic copy protection methods.
  • In cases where a requested software application has no support from the software's developers (when an application is in the public domain or was written by a faculty member for example), OIT will not be able to provide support should problems arise.
  • OIT will work with each lab liaison during the update request period to determine software usage in each lab and to identify seldom used applications that can be removed.
  • All requests for software changes must come from the lab liaisons during the lab update request period.