Computer Refresh: Part 1 – Evergreen Cycle

This is the beginning of a 3 part series on computer refresh cycles. This week’s post we are looking at the ins & outs of the TWU evergreen cycle: what it is, how and why we do it.

We will be back in a few weeks, to post about the future refresh cycle and what that will look like. While we aren’t changing policy yet, we are going to look at new options.

Our final post on the topic, will be closing remarks and how we will be measuring success.

What is Evergreen?

Current TWIT policy is that all full time staff and faculty receive a TWU issued computer. As the machine ages, there is a policy in place to refresh it with a newer model within a specified time. This is Evergreen. It ensures you always have a computer that is up to date and up to snuff.

Our policy has been to issue a new laptop after 3 years, and a new desktop after 5 years. Historically desktops age more gracefully. They don’t move or get bumped around. They are more powerful than laptops and stay up to snuff longer. Their parts are bigger and therefore more robust.  They are also easy to fix as compared to a laptop.

Why Evergreen?

There have been a few contributing factors to having an evergreen program in place. Of highest priority is to provide reliable technology to get the job done. By having this policy in place, we are able to keep the University on the cutting edge of technology. We can ensure that staff and faculty have great products to work with, additionally, TWIT is supporting great products, enabling us to provide great service. This should all add up to less down time for you the customer.

How do we perform Evergreen?

It’s no lie that there is a lot of work that goes into ensure your technology is kept up to date. The process starts months in advance with arranging for demo machines to pre-test, followed by a big order of computers shipped to TWU.

An interesting fact about this, is that all our machines are bought with extended warranty covering any breakdown within the evergreen cycle. This warranty starts when the units are shipped. It may take several weeks before the machine is powered on and in the hands of the customer, but the warranty clock has already been ticking.

There are currently 3 technicians that support all the desktops and laptops at TWU. There are roughly 850 TWU computers on campus. This is a pretty standard ratio compared to other I.T. shops. While supporting their current issues as they come in, they will be working to set up and deploy new machines once the shipment has arrived. The deployment process can take a few months to complete.

Deployment happens in 5 phases (not in order):

  • Windows Laptops
  • Windows Desktops
  • Apple Laptops
  • Apple Desktops
  • Student Lab machines (summer refresh)

It’s basically half a day for a technician to exchange a computer for staff or faculty. The bulk of the time is taken by transferring all the data from the old machine to the new. Then there are the little adjustments like shared drive, printers, and special software requirements.

Another interesting fact is that, with exception of Apple computers, if all data was stored under the Document folder, TWIT wouldn’t have to spend any time on transferring data. Our customers could log into any computer and all their documents would synchronize. You could even sync your browser data by signing into a browser account.

Once deployed the customer has a brand spanking new machine to last for another few years. TWIT will also offer a survey, specific for computer deployments, to follow up on how smooth the transition was and to gain feedback for future deployments.

The old machines have to be wiped clean of any data. This process is very thorough to ensure total zeroing of data. Then they are either returned to a leasing company, or sold to anyone looking for a cheap, as is, computer.

That is our Evergreen refresh cycle.

Next year we are trying something new. Check in next post to learn about what TWIT is changing, how it’s going to happen, and why we are doing it.

Questions? Contact TWIT

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