ITS Support Model for Vendor-Provided Web-Based Systems
Effective March 2003
Revised December 2005
On This Page:
Note: Refer to Web Browser and Desktop Operating System Support
for more information.
Over the past few years, M-Pathways systems have transitioned
from Citrix-based to Web-based systems. MAIS has also rolled out
several other vendor-provided Web-based systems, like eResearch
and My LINC. This move to Web-based applications introduced several
challenges in how MAIS supports desktop software. The purpose of
this document is to define the guidelines that ITS uses to support
Web browsers and desktop operating systems.
These guidelines have been determined after reviewing
information collected from various sources including: software vendors,
other universities, and representatives of a wide range of University
of Michigan units including central offices, schools and colleges.
This document addresses the ITS support policy for
Web-based systems that have been, or will be, purchased from vendors.
This includes nearly all the components of the M-Pathways applications
from PeopleSoft, the My LINC online learning system from SumTotal,
and the eResearch software from Click Commerce. This document does
not address the support policy for any systems that ITS develops.
The distinction between vendor-provided systems and
ITS-developed (or University-developed) systems is significant.
The support for vendor-provided systems is greatly influenced by
the support policies of the vendors in question. Support for ITS-developed
systems, on the other hand, is completely within the control of
ITS. Because of these differences, ITS has chosen to address these
systems in different ways. Support for ITS-developed systems will
be addressed later in a separate document.
Definition of "Support"
Throughout this document, the terms "support"
and "supported" are used to describe services provided
by ITS or expected by end users. The following text describes what
is included in ITS "support" of Web browsers and desktop
- ITS will conduct user interface testing on all supported
software combinations. User interface testing will focus on
common Web browser and desktop operating system compatibility
- ITS will conduct all end-to-end system testing on the one
"primary" supported Windows OS/browser combination.
Note: most functions of the system are not affected by the
version of the browser or the desktop operating system.
- ITS Help Desk
- The ITS Help Desk will answer all questions relating to
the system for users of supported software combinations, or
it will pass questions to Tier 2 staff (application and technical
experts) as appropriate.
- The ITS Help Desk will assist users of non-supported software
combinations on simple questions such as those pertaining
to navigation through the application, but will not address
technical questions for these users, or pass any of these
questions to Tier 2 staff.
- The ITS Help Desk does not provide direct support to students.
Student support for the M-Pathways systems will continue to
be provided through ITCS 4-HELP. (Training for 4-HELP consultants
will take place prior to an upgrade or functional enhancement.)
- Fixing Problems
ITS will provide fixes and/or workarounds for software problems
on supported software combinations, or ITS will work with the
appropriate software vendor to resolve the problem.
ITS will provide guidelines/best practices to be used by system
administrators and/or end users for securing supported software
To the greatest extent possible, ITS will follow
these support guidelines for Web browsers and desktop operating
- ITS will only provide support for software on
versions of Web browsers or desktop operating systems that are
supported by the vendor of the software.
- For example, if PeopleSoft does not support "Browser
X," then ITS will not support PeopleSoft on "Browser
- It is important to understand that
this guideline may make it impossible to meet some or all
of the other guidelines that are listed below on specific
products. In other words, this guideline will always be followed,
and the other guidelines will be followed as long as they
are in accordance with this guideline.
- ITS will purchase software, when possible, that
conforms to industry standards for Web software.
- Software that follows industry standards, such as HTML4
and XHTML1, should work on the broadest set of browsers and
desktop operating systems possible.
- Standards will be selected based on input from campus units
and reviewed on a regular schedule (e.g. annually).
- Ultimately, support for these standards will be weighed
along with business requirements in purchase decisions. If
other business requirements warrant it, ITS may choose to
purchase software that does not meet these standards.
- The larger the community of users that must use an administrative
application, the more heavily ITS will take Web browser and
desktop operating system into consideration when purchasing
- ITS will endeavor to influence its current software
vendors to develop software that meets industry standards for
ITS' ability to influence vendors will vary depending on the
vendor, but ITS will work with other higher education institutions
to help influence vendors to follow appropriate standards.
- At any one time, and when it is possible to do
so in concurrence with vendor software support guidelines, ITS
will support two versions of Internet Explorer on two versions
of the Windows operating system. As support from vendors becomes
available, ITS will support one version of Safari on one version
of the Macintosh operating system.
- For example, ITS might offer support for Internet Explorer
5 and Internet Explorer 6 on Windows 2000 and Windows XP,
and Safari 1.2 on Macintosh OS X. (These version numbers are
provided as an example. The specific version numbers are identified
in Web Browser and Desktop Operating System Support.
- MAIS and PeopleSoft initially supported Internet Explorer
(IE) on Macintosh OS 9 and OS X. However, Safari has emerged
as the browser standard for Macintosh computers and Apple
has ended support for IE. Therefore, ITS will make an effort
to establish Safari as the supported browser for Macintosh
OS X computers as support becomes available from our software
- Sometimes lack of vendor support (see guideline #1 above)
may prevent ITS from supporting two versions of the Windows
- ITS supports several different PeopleSoft modules, and
these modules may be constructed from different versions of
PeopleTools. PeopleSoft may support different operating system/browser
combinations for different versions of PeopleTools. This will
influence the support that ITS can provide to its user population
and may result in support models that differ between various
M-Pathways systems. In addition, ITS supports software from
a number of software vendors. Whenever possible, ITS will
make an effort to support common, robust and current operating
system/browser combinations, but it is likely that ITS will
at times issue support models that differ from system to system.
- ITS will identify a primary combination of Microsoft
Internet Explorer and Windows operating system and a primary combination
of Safari and Macintosh operating system for use with a given
- ITS developers will use the Windows/IE primary combination
during the application development.
- ITS will provide similar support levels for all supported
combinations, but the primary supported combinations will
be the least likely version to contain compatibility problems.
- ITS will not prevent people from
using non-supported browser and desktop operating system combinations,
although support for these combinations will not be available.
The recommended configurations are only identified as a convenience
for the users. Users are not required to use these recommended
- ITS will perform some preliminary testing on
commonly used, but not vendor-supported, operating system/browser
combinations prior to implementation of a new system or upgrading
an existing system.
While ITS cannot provide support for these operating system/browser
combinations (see #1 above), ITS will perform some testing to
determine if major issues can be identified and communicated to
the user community.
- ITS will review this policy on a regular basis.
- Any significant changes to this policy will be discussed
in advance with the appropriate campus constituencies.
- Updates to these guidelines will be coordinated with changes
in vendor support polices, software upgrades, and/or releases
of new products.