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Frequently Asked Questions about Managed Desktop

Info for End Users


What is Managed Desktop?

Managed Desktop is a service that offers IT staff an efficient, secure method for managing workstations. Multiple tiers of the service provide different levels of flexibility, balancing value and security with appropriate support for a range of situations.

The service is available for IT support organizations. If you are an end-user, contact your local IT support.

Why is Cornell managing workstations?

Cornell’s IT staff have managed workstations for many years, but have often done so manually or have operated their own desktop management software. The Managed Desktop service provides a less expensive but more secure and reliable user experience, and more effective integration with other support services such as the IT Service Desk.

What kinds of things does the service do?

Managed Desktop helps provide faster, more efficient IT support. Managed Desktop can install or reinstall operating systems and applications very quickly, can update software, help identify problems before they become obvious to the end-user, provide a more secure environment, help protect workstations in the event of a widespread security issue, and help Cornell identify software that would be good candidates for bulk purchasing.

What information is being gathered about my computer?

The Managed Desktop service stores inventory information about the hardware and installed software of the workstations, updated once per week. No user data is inventoried, and application usage information is not stored. The basic hardware and installed software information is at the heart of the functioning of the Managed Desktop as it makes it possible to “target” activities such as software installations and updates to appropriate computers.

Who can see the information about my computer?

System administrators (that is, those who manage the Managed Desktop service) have access to the servers where the inventory data is stored. IT directors and their direct designates can access campus-wide inventory information. Local IT support staff only see information about computers they support.

Can anyone see my documents?

No. No information about user data is stored in the inventory database.

Who manages my computer?

Your local IT staff use the Managed Desktop service to manage your computer. They may do this directly by accessing the management tools or they may do it by making requests to the central Desktop Engineering team.

Do I need to use specific software? What if the software I need is not available on the Managed Desktop?

One of the advantages of a Managed Desktop is that it is a known, predictable environment, which allows for more complete, knowledgeable and efficient support. The Managed Desktop service includes a growing library of common software found around campus. If you have a need for specific software that is not available via the Managed Desktop, contact your local IT support who they will work with you to help find the best solution, either by installing the software or requesting it be added to the library of applications associated with Managed Desktop.

Do I need to use specific hardware?

For the Managed and Managed+Support tiers, we specify a small range of Dell and Apple computers. For the Lite tier, most functionality is available for other models for computers, but with limited support and no guarantees. See our Managed Desktop Technical Requirements page for the list of currently supported models.

Why does my computer have to be patched?

In order to comply with university policy 5.10, which is aimed at creating and maintaining a secure work, teaching, research, and study environment, all systems that are used to conduct university business and/or are on the university networks must be patched at regular intervals.