This page describes a partnership between CLC and other administrative units for the joint management of student computer labs and classrooms.
- Tools and Infrastructure
- Participating Areas
- Limitations and Requirements
There are multiple reasons for cooperative lab management:
- This service provides a consistent user interface for students among the cooperating areas and the public labs and classrooms at University Park. When students become familiar with the lab environment at one location, they can use the facilities at another location with very little difficulty.
- Leveraging CLC's tools and infrastructure for managing student labs can provide an adaptive and secure environment while also reducing the IT staff time required to manage departmental or campus labs.
CLC manages 2,990 Windows 7, Macintosh and Linux computers in labs, classrooms and public areas throughout University Park, using distributed and scalable technologies. These technologies allow CLC to manage each workstation remotely, requiring CLC staff to typically touch the physical machine at most once per year. It also allows for a customized application software suite for each lab depending on the hardware and the location. Enhancements made to the process in 2005 made it feasible to extend the methods, processes, and infrastructure to support labs primarily run by other administrative departments. Also, various "homegrown" tools and our backend database have matured to the point that sharing the use of them became feasible, and the Cooperative Lab Management program was initiated.
As of Fall 2013, nearly 9,000 computers managed by 45 different units are in the CLM infrastructure. They were used by 76,000 different users during the Fall 2012 semester, totaling 3 million logons and 2.4 million hours.
The various components that make this an attractive arrangement include:
- SysMan Build Key: a customized OS deployment application that uses an 8GB USB flash drive to install Windows on the machine in as little as 5 minutes of staff time.
- Remote rebuild: computers can be remotely scheduled to rebuild themselves if they are malfunctioning or if a new set of application suites is deployed.
- Hardened OS Image: the file system and system configuration have been secured to make it difficult for users to interfere with the operation of the system.
- Management: computers are automatically joined to a Microsoft Windows domain, managed by CLC, and to the Systems Management @ Penn State environment (BigFix or IBM Endpoint Manager).
Software Packages: computers install and update software packages using TEM.
- CLC provides and supported a base set of freeware or site licensed software packages that can be deployed to every machine within CLM.
- Any cooperating unit can add and deploy an application package that is needed in their area as long as running it does not compromise the security of the workstation.
- Application package sharing between units is strongly encouraged, helping reduce the time needing to deploy new or updated software.
- Licensing an application prior to deploying an application in the software repository is still the responsibility of each administrative unit.
- Updates: CLC tests and deploys OS and application patches using both BigFix and WSUS (Windows Software Update Service).
- Account Management: Users login with their Penn State Access Accounts using the dce.psu.edu Kerberos realm. Units have the ability to create groups and restrict who can login to machines in their CLM machines, if needed.
- Roaming profiles: contain user preferences and application settings that follow the user from computer to computer. CLC maintains servers at most campuses where roaming profilfes can reside for faster loading for users affiliated with that campus. User profiles are automatically moved when users change locations.
User tools include:
- Clear Profile: a Web-based utility to clear or reset the roaming profile when application settings are encountering problems.
- Classroom Control: for use by the instructor from a podium computer in a classroom to lock student screens, send messages, reboot, etc.
- Current Lab Use: users can see how busy a location is before going there.
- Lab Hours: a Web application for listing a room's hardware and hours of availability.
Administrator tools include:
- All computers are automatically joined to TEM (BigFix) in the CLM division and can be managed from the TEM console.
- Lab Commander: This is a Windows application for administrators to control lab computers (query, schedule reboot, issue commands, etc.). This talks to a custom service running on each machine.
- Update Service: A Windows service written by CLC for managing the computers; responds to commands from Lab Commander.
- Lab Use Data: CLM partners automatically get access to a suite of usage reports to examine lab/classroom use by semester, day, or hour.
- Keyserver: An optional component that allows for application usage tracking and has the ability to allow pooling of software licenses using concurrent, if allowed by the applications EULA. This component is licensed per workstation and also has a yearly renewal cost.
- Printing chargeback: ITS Printing Service is easily deployed in CLM.
- Power Management: CLM machines by default use BigFix to implement aggressive power settings. Podiums by default use moderately aggressive power settings. A unit can decide to customize these settings, if they desire to do so.
This is a partial list:
- Auxiliarly and Business Services
- The College of Agricultural Sciences
- The College of Communications
- The College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
- The College of Health and Human Development
- The Division of Student Affairs
- The Eberly College of Science
- The Smeal College of Business
- Information Technology Services
- Morgan Academic Support Center for Student-Athletes
- Penn State Navy ROTC
- Penn State Abington
- Penn State Altoona
- Penn State Brandywine
- Penn State Dickinson School of Law
- Penn State DuBois
- Penn State Great Valley
- Penn State Harrisburg
- Penn State Lehigh Valley
- Penn State Mont Alto
- Penn State Schuylkill
- Penn State Shenango
- Penn State Wilkes-Barre
- Penn State Worthington Scranton
See the OurRooms page to query a database of campus, building, rooms and units that support the CLM computers in those rooms.
- Participants benefit from the availability of the tools and infrastructure described above by having more reliable facilities that are easier to setup and manage.
- The students and faculty experience a more consistent computing experience when moving between campuses or around University Park.
- Once an environment has been migrated into CLM, most participating unit's reported a decrease in the time needed to support their facilities.
ITS does not charge any unit for this service, however there are some hardware and software costs.
- Administrative units at University Park can leverage CLC existing server infrastructure.
Campuses sometimes are required to have a single file server on their campus dedicated to the project.
- A campus can sometimes leverage the Media Commons server, if there are no special license managers or no local print queue requirements.
- The typical cost of such a server is normally $4,000 to $5,000 and the server typically has a 4-5 year life cycle. All server hardware must be under an current maintenance contract.
- In some cases network improvements are needed to connect managed computers to the campus server(s).
- Each unit is responsible for all software licensing costs.
- Sassafras KeyServer is an optional component that a unit can elect to use. For ease of administration, we run a central KeyServer for this purpose and coordinate the purchase of licenses and renewals. Keyserver is licensed per workstation and each license has a renewal cost per year. For more information about the cost of Sassafras KeyServer, please e-mail admin at win.psu.edu.
There are some limitations with this service that need to be considered by potential participants:
Hardware: Only certain models of computers are supported by the SysMan build key.
- If you have hardware that is not listed, please contact admin at win.psu.edu to inquire if support can be added.
- Networks: several requirements for networking the lab computers to the server will be provided when a campus begins discussions with us. Each
- Applications not already used in CLC or CLM partners' labs can be installed, but it is the units responsibility to get the application installer to run silently and be deployed through BigFix.
Dual-booting is difficult to secure and as such is not supported.
- We support Linux by the user using the CLC's Linux cluster. A graphical user interface to the Linux environment is available through VNC.
- CLM machines are not for individual faculty and staff workstations.
Partners are required to:
- Have their executive officer sign a "memo of understanding" defining responsibilities for CLC and the administrative unit.
- Register all administrators with CLC.
- Attend a SysMan (TEM a.k.a. BigFix) bootcamp and be a TEM console operator (for full benefit).
- Purchase all hardware and software (there is no charge for the services).
- Provide or purchase a server, if needed, to host roaming profiles and be a BigFix relay.
- Share application packages with other partners when feasible and legal.
- Use the dedicated mailing list for discussions and reporting problems.
- Visit the SharePoint Web site regularly to review documentation and announcements.
Questions from potential partners about this program can be addressed to CLMSupport at win.psu.edu.
Last Updated November 04, 2013