University Standard Software

2,500 Computers will be Replaced in Coming Months

By Mark Sullivan
Staff Writer

Boston College has announced a sweeping plan to replace the primary desktop office computers of all employees with high-power systems and up-to-date University standard software.

These new desktop computers will be replaced routinely every three years, with servers and printers likely to be replaced every four and five years. University standard software will also be upgraded on an ongoing basis.

The "Desktop 2000" campaign will replace some 2,500 desktop computers on campus over a span of three to four months beginning early this summer, according to Project Manager William Fleming.

Extensive information on the project is available on the Web at /desktop2000. A schedule for the transition to new computers is to be posted online the week of April 19.

Fleming said the University is taking the occasion to move administrative departments to a Windows-based computing environment, replacing Apple Macintosh desktops in administrative offices with IBM personal computers.

Faculty in general will have a choice as to whether to use an Apple Macintosh or an IBM Windows machine, said Fleming, with those choosing to remain with Apple receiving new Mac desktops.

"There will be lots of support and training available throughout the process," Fleming said, "particularly for people migrating from Macs to Windows platforms."

Fleming said software upgrades will allow the new Macs and Windows-driven PCs to interact, with everyone in the University using the same versions of office software.

The old computers are to be sold through an outside service provider that is to be hired to install and maintain the new Desktop 2000 hardware.

Desktop 2000 is the first phase of a comprehensive new program for handling departmental computing needs on campus, the Enterprise Technology Resource Management project, which administrators say will provide Boston College with "technology for the 21st century."

The project was announced in an April 7 open letter to the BC community by President William P. Leahy, SJ, Executive Vice President Frank B. Campanella, Academic Vice President David R. Burgess, Financial Vice President and Treasurer Peter C. McKenzie, Human Resources Vice President Leo V. Sullivan, and Information Technology Vice President Kathleen T. Warner.

Fleming said the three main objectives are: to significantly strengthen the flow of communication and information around the University; to provide a strong technological foundation for University Academic Planning Council, Project Delta and Agora initiatives; and to enable faculty and administrative staff to meet their individual academic and administrative goals much more effectively than is currently possible.

"At a time when more and more University functions and services are being carried out in cyberspace," Fleming said, "it is vital that all community members have their technology resources refreshed before they 'run out of gas.'

"Look at Project Agora," he said. "Many people on campus cannot take advantage of Agora services, because they don't have the computers or the software that allows them to use it.

"In many cases, the computers are too old to run current versions of the software that is needed to use services like Agora," said Fleming. "Worse, unless we are confident that everyone has the same high level of technology, we can't be sure that they can read files we send to them, or share communications about common projects.

"For faculty and students to use our network to strengthen their academic relationship, electronic communications must take place without concern for who has what at the other end of the wire."

Fleming said the project will cover "public-access" systems like those in Lyons and McElroy halls; computers shared by part-time instructional and administrative staff; compatible systems for the Student Learning and Support Center; and the Audio Visual Department's computerized classrooms.

"Desktop 2000 will greatly enhance the free flow of information, communication and services across our campus," Fr. Leahy and administrators stated in the letter announcing the project.

"Once we make the singular transition that Desktop 2000 represents, everyone will have the benefits of a high level of office computing capability on a regular, consistent and timely basis," the statement continued. "We believe that Desktop 2000 will make a major contribution toward developing the electronic community of Boston College that we desire."

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