Highlights of Campus UNIX Systems Support Program

The Campus UNIX Systems Support Program (CUSSP) is a program designed to provide a comprehensive software and hardware support program to faculty, staff and departmental owners of UNIX systems at Rensselaer.

CUSSP Software Support Programs

CUSSP offers a formal software support program as well as a rate structure for simple time and materials.

CUSSP: DotCIO-Managed RCS Systems

This program is available only to minimum hardware configurations that are similar to the systems in the DotCIO-managed Rensselaer Computing System (RCS) labs. At this time, this includes IBM RS6000s, Sun SPARCstations and some SGI systems with a minimum of memory and disk. See the detailed program writeup for specific configuration requirements.

In general, the CUSSP program allows your the user's workstation to become just like an RCS lab machine, implying that it becomes an "applications platform." In the simplest case, the system's owner has NO systems administration duties; while the owner does have full-time access to all RCS applications installed in the RCS Andrew File System (AFS), he or she does not have to manage the process of creating accounts for the user, doing backups of disks to tape, etc.

This program is appropriate for system owners that do not have the time, inclination, or personnel resources to spend a few hours a week doing systems administration tasks. Also, this program clearly offers the best support for UNIX novices where having a UNIX system is deemed "mission critical," but they are still at the beginning of the learning curve.

Under CUSSP, DotCIO manages your regular campus RCS account; various groups within DotCIO maintain the campus environment. For example, Academic and Research Computing's Help Desk, in conjunction with Payroll and the Registrar, creates and gives out accounts as needed for new faculty, staff and students. DotCIO's Operations group will backup your home directory on a regular basis. The Server Support Services group installs updated versions of the vendor operating systems and campus applications on a timely basis in order to assure Rensselaer's computing users that they are running the most recent versions of the various operating systems and applications of interest to them.

CUSSP does not necessarily strictly limit its services to the exact configuration of machines in the RCS labs. For example, CUSSP can make provisions for additional memory, disk and locally attached printers, and thereby provide some configuration flexibility. It may well be the case that your system qualifies for the significant savings -- in both time and money -- derived from signing up for CUSSP.

However, you should note that CUSSP is not appropriate for those Sun or IBM systems which differ substantially from RCS lab machines, nor is it available for machines by other vendors such as NeXT, Hewlett-Packard or Digital Equipment Corp. CUSSP supports such machines under its Time & Materials program, as described below.

Since this program allows the CUSSP personnel to leverage their RCS lab maintenance mechanisms, it is the least expensive program.

Time & Materials: Customer Managed Systems

This program, which is available to any Rensselaer faculty or staff member, supports a broader range of UNIX systems than the formal CUSSP program, including:

This program's greatest feature program is the independence and freedom it gives the system owner to reconfigure their system however they choose at anytime. Towards this end, the system owner retains superuser access, and can set up any type of user account structure and resource control as seen fit. Under this program, system owners can configure their system so that it is completely independent of the network for "mission critical" applications, while still taking advantage (via AFS) of the campus file system on the occasions when they need to use them.

Please note that, with this program, the customer assumes all of the classic UNIX system administrative responsibilities, such as regular backups of system and user filesystems, adding new user accounts, saving and deleting obsolete accounts, and monitoring system security.

While the systems in Time & Materials are sufficiently more labor-intensive, and therefore make this program significantly more expensive than CUSSP, many customers still find it very reasonable, especially when compared to vendor software maintenance rates.

CUSSP's Time & Materials program provides software support on an as-needed basis, and is no longer provided free-of-charge. The program now incurs an hourly rate, and the work must be scheduled ahead of time, except in the case of emergencies.