Personal Computer Support at Fermilab

Paper: 454
Session: G (talk)
Speaker: Kaletka, Mark, Fermilab, Batavia
Keywords: desktop computing, PC operating systems

Personal Computer Support at Fermilab

Keith Chadwick, Tim Doody, Jack Schmidt, Al Thomas

Personal computers (Macintosh and IBM PC clones) have been on site at
Fermilab in a variety of roles for well over ten years. No formal
laboratory wide management and support was undertaken until the
establishment of the Personal Computing Support Group in the
Computing Division in 1993. The first mission of the PCS group was to
design a plan to efficiently manage personal computers on a lab-wide
basis. As a consequence of the over ten years of decentralized
acquisitions and installations of personal computers throughout the
laboratory, the new centralized site-wide personal computing support
role offered significant challenges. There was no formal strategy for
hardware configuration, software acquisition, or support. Many times
people were responsible for maintaining their system, or calling the
local guru.

The Personal Computer Support Group realized that to provide
responsive and cost effective service to the Fermilab community the
plan must be scaleable, provide reliable performance, backup and
security, and make efficient use of Computing Division resources.

The PCS group reviewed the problems encountered with support and took
into consideration the design requirements. The solution to
centralized services is based on four key points. The support design
is based on a client-server model where software packages and critical
data are in a secure, monitored location and applications and data are
served across the network to the client desktop upon demand. Customer
contracts are created to avoid any misunderstanding of support by PCS.
The correct base platform; Windows NT Advanced Server meets the
necessary requirements. A reliable, standard network structure based
upon workgroup technology developed by the Network department at

The PCS group has held true to the support plan and provides customers
with services that range from network connectivity and support
(on-site and off-site); file services (both individual and shared work
group) with adequate backup and security planning; office automation
and central services (mail servers, web-servers, meeting coordination
systems.....); and license management.

PCS Today
The PCS group has followed the initial design plan with great success.
Currently servers and desktops are supported in each division at the
lab with only a handful of people. The recent lab reorganization has
placed the PCS with a major role in providing lab-wide pc support..
The PCS group believes that the model will hold true as it expands to
full lab-wide service.