But the schools labor-intensive method of loading software onto lab computers resulted in neither latency nor high availability, according to Naveed Husain, assistant vice president for IT and CIO at Queens Colleges Office of Converging Technologies.
Things were so bad that it took the department approximately 12 weeks from the receipt of a request to completion of the lab imaging process, not including testing to make sure the imaging was successful. On top of that, each semester lasts only 15 weeks, Husain said.
"Students would have classes in labs and not be able to get the software they needed in those labs. I wanted to build a stable, reliable network for the college and for the students," Husain said, one that was based on Microsofts Active Directory.
"The goal was anytime, anywhere computing. Were trying to allow commuter-school students to be able to access campus resources from anywhere," Husain said.
In search of ...
Having sent out an RFP (request for proposal), Husain researched submissions from six developers and their partners. In addition to a solution that integrated Active Directory, the RFP included functionality, project management and training, he said. The college needed a plan to ultimately allow self-management.
And it was crucial that the Office of Converging Technologies personnel believed in both the technological solution and the partners, Husain said.
"Essentially, when you do a project like this, you have to make sure your network engineers have buy-in. If you have buy-in from your team, you then have commitment to the project," Husain said.
Custom Computer Specialists, in conjunction with CA, headed to the lead position in the race for the contract. Custom Computer, in nearby Hauppauge, N.Y., is a tier-one CA partner, as well as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, and had worked with Queens College in the past, said Kelly Walker, account manager at the 27-year-old solution provider and integrator.
The partners worked tightly with each other on all aspects of a possible implementation—from technology design to the sales pitch, from the installation to post-sales training and support, Walker said.
The solution provider has extensive experience in serving the technological needs of higher education institutions, she said. For example, the company has held professional development days and provided hardware and technical services to schools such as Fordham University.
In fact, the solution provider is the exclusive New York state reseller of Infinite Campus, a Web-based Education Process Management system designed to allow administrators, teachers, parents and students to streamline communication, work more efficiently and improve performance, according to Custom Computer.
"We worked collaboratively over many sessions at Queens College and in [Husains] office," said Peter Welling, account director for New York City government at CA, in Islandia, N.Y. Likewise, Husain and a team that included Morris Altman, director of network services, and Yan Juras, director of systems engineering at the college, met several times at CAs offices to watch the two prospective partners put CA solutions through their paces, Welling said.
The combination of a strong partnership between the two providers, as well as the technological capabilities of CAs solution, helped seal the deal, Husain said.
"CA Unicenter seemed to solve the software distribution and asset management problems we faced," Husain said. "Unicenter was the icing on the cake."
Queens College is part of the CUNY (City University of New York) system, which includes 19 colleges and more than 100 research facilities. More than 17,000 students attend the college—and, already, the network includes more than 12,000 active accounts, Husain said.
Custom Computer and CA worked as a unit with the colleges internal staff to install the Unicenter solutions, as well as CA security programs, such as eTrust PestPatrol Anti-Spyware. The solution features authentication capabilities designed to ensure the correlation between the classes a student has enrolled in and his or her access to related software-based courseware.
"CA has unified and simplified Queens Colleges IT operations by automating the whole process—a realization of the benefits of CAs Enterprise IT Management vision," Welling said. "Its gone from a very manual, lengthy process to close to an on-demand solution."