School's out (or almost out) ... time to go to work!

While your faculty and students will be relaxing this summer, more likely than not, your university IT department will be frantically deploying new hardware and software.
Written by Marc Wagner, Contributor

In K-12, Education IT will soon have a couple of months off before planning for fall begins.  Not so for colleges and universities.  Overall better funding means that university IT departments often have some year-end money left over.  If not, July 1 marks the beginning of a new fiscal year for many an institution.  My point? 

While the bulk of your students are on summer break, and your faculty are away from campus for ten to twelve weeks, you've got lots of work to do.  This will be your first, and perhaps your only, opportunity all year to make major upgrades to your labs.  Whether they are thin clients or standalone workstations, whether they are running Windows or UNIX/Linux, or even MacOSX, you have software to upgrade.  Hopefully, you have a robust remote software deployment/upgrade model to keep you from having to traipse all over campus to get hundreds, if not thousands, of workstations ready for fall. 

If you have a significant investment in Windows, you are undoubtedly planning to establish a Vista 'pilot' for your faculty to begin testing their favorite instructional software while keeping your main labs running Windows XP for another academic year.  

If Macintosh is your platform of choice, Leopard won't be ready for Fall so that's one less thing to worry about for this year -- but, if yours is a mixed-platform environment, come next year you could be deploying Leopard and Vista at the same time. 

If you haven't started planning yet, you're probably already behind.  By the start of classes in the fall, your faculty will be expecting full access to your facilities and all of the software they need installed and ready to use. 

If your IT department is well-funded, you will replace one-third of your workstations this summer but even if you're poorly-funded, you should still be replacing at least 20% of your workstations this summer.  If you're not, your putting your students and faculty at a disadvantage by saddling them with lame hardware, barely capable of running the latest in discipline-specific software.  Even your Linux boxes are long in the tooth after five years of nearly constant use.   

So what's your IT upgrade plan for summer?

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