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Success comes from knowing, not guessing.

Colleges and universities use Core Data Service benchmarks to inform IT strategic planning and management. CDS focuses on IT financials, staffing, and services data, and is organized by a set of IT domains. CDS comprises three parts:

  • Data Collection — The annual CDS survey is organized into a set of required modules that collect core information and optional modules that collect more details on IT domains. View all 2014 survey questions, or view the 2014 survey by module:
    • Module 1: IT Organization, Staffing, and Financing (required)
    • Module 2: IT Support Services (optional)
    • Module 3: Educational Technology Services (optional)
    • Module 4: Research Computing Services (optional)
    • Module 5: Data Centers (optional)
    • Module 6: Communications Infrastructure Services (optional)
    • Module 7: Information Security (optional)
    • Module 8: Information Systems and Applications (optional)
  • Data Reports and Core Metrics — Data submitted in the survey flows into CDS Reporting, a self-service tool enabling institutions that submitted data to create custom peer groups, view data in graphs and tables, download detailed reports, and look up responses to individual questions.
  • Reports and Analyses — EDUCAUSE researchers produce publications that summarize and analyze CDS data. While some reports are restricted to ECAR subscribers, many are available to the larger community.

CDS data is governed by an Appropriate Use Policy (AUP) that establishes how the data must be protected by CDS participants, as well as how EDUCAUSE may use the data to communicate the state of IT and to enhance services to its diverse membership. A fundamental tenet of the institutional AUP is that access to identified data is limited to survey participants.

Why Participate?

CDS is often a first step in an institution’s larger benchmarking efforts. Participating in CDS enables you to:

  • Better understand your IT organization
  • Benchmark against the past (trending analysis)
  • Have an insurance policy (so you have data if you need it)
  • Share successes/experiences with others

What Topics Are Covered?

Cloud, information security, e-learning, and over 100 more IT topics are covered in the CDS survey. Review the questions in the survey modules above for a comprehensive list of topics, or see a select list here:

  • CIO reporting line
  • CISO reporting line
  • Classroom technology deployment
  • Cloud
  • Collaborative spaces
  • Communication technology deployment
  • Compensation spending
  • Data center management
  • Data center power sources
  • Disaster recovery
  • E-learning
  • Emergency communications
  • Faculty support services
  • Help desk contact methods
  • Help desk satisfaction
  • Help desk service usage
  • High performance computing
  • Identity management
  • Information security policy
  • Information system management strategies
  • Information system products
  • IT expenditures
  • IT funding
  • IT staffing
  • ITIL implementation
  • Kiosks
  • Knowledge management
  • Labs
  • Laptop loans
  • Mobile
  • Outsourcing
  • Percent virtualized
  • Research support
  • Residence hall services
  • Risk assessment
  • Spending on training
  • Tablet loans
  • Virtual desktops
  • Wired infrastructure quality
  • Wireless coverage
  • Wireless infrastructure quality

How Do Institutions Use CDS Data?

With data from CDS, you can:

  • Communicate the value of IT
  • Benchmark budgets
  • Benchmark staffing
  • Compare department structure and service delivery with peers' and aspirational peers
  • Target a benchmarking effort (hone in on who's doing what for a more extensive analysis)

Map CDS Data to the Top 10 IT Issues

CDS data helps you to address the 2015 top-ten IT issues, for example:

  • Issue #1 — Hiring and retaining qualified staff, and updating the knowledge and skills of existing technology staff. Knowing staff training budgets of your peers can help you set or validate your own (Core Metrics and Module 1: IT Expenditures).
  • Issue #2 — Optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning in collaboration with academic leadership, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use. Benchmark your institution's service portfolio for faculty support so that you can ensure faculty have what they need to integrate technology into the classroom (Module 3: Educational Technology Services).
  • Issue #3 — Developing IT funding models that sustain core service, support innovation, and facilitate growth. Benchmarking your budget across dollars spent to run, grow, and transform your organization, as well as across capital and operating work. Use these benchmarks to determine the blend of innovation spending and operating spending that supports your institution’s goals (Module 1: IT Expenditures).
  • Issue #4 — Improving student outcomes through an institutional approach that strategically leverages technology. Identify commonly deployed e-learning and student success technologies and look at which technologies are used by institutions similar to yours. Use this information to plan or adapt your own strategy (Module 3: Educational Technology Services and Module 8: Information Systems).
  • Issue #5 — Demonstrating the business value of information technology and how technology and the IT organization can help the institution achieve its goals. Reveal organizational efficiencies and opportunities for improvement with benchmarks on IT spending to institution size and IT spending to institutional expenses (Core Metrics).
  • Issue #6 — Increasing the IT organization's capacity for managing change, despite differing community needs, priorities, and abilities. Identify peer institutions using ITIL change management so that you can conduct best practices research (Module 1: IT Service Delivery).
  • Issue #7 — Providing user support in the new normal—mobile, online education, cloud, and BYOD environments. Compare your service delivery catalog and help desk support to those of your peers. Use these benchmarks to assess where you are meeting needs and where you may have opportunities to improve (Module 2: IT Support Services).
  • Issue #8 — Developing mobile, cloud, and digital security policies that work for most of the institutional community. Benchmark your institution’s information security training initiatives to see how you align with best practices. Use this information to identify where you are well prepared and where new focus may be needed (Module 7: Information Security).
  • Issue #9 — Developing an enterprise IT architecture that can respond to changing conditions and new opportunities. Identify systems your peers are replacing within the next three years, as well as which vendors your peers are using. Consider this data as you work on plans for your enterprise systems (Module 8: Information Systems and Applications).
  • Issue #10 — Balancing agility, openness, and security. Identify areas of the institution for which peers have recently conducted risk assessments. Reach out to peer contacts for information as you plan for your own (Module 7: Information Security).

Who is Eligible?

Any higher education institution can participate in CDS. View eligible institutions. If your institution is not listed, and you’d like to participate, please contact us.


How Do I Get Started?

  1. Complete the CDS survey. The survey preparation checklist outlines seven steps that help you get started.
  2. Subscribe to CDS Update to receive timely updates and information.



View the CDS FAQ or contact us:

  • 303-449-4430 (Hours of operation: Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m., Mountain Time)


"I have found CDS invaluable. I strongly encourage institutions to participate as you never know when you might need answers quickly."

— Kirk Kelly
Associate Vice President and CIO
Portland State University


2015 Timeline

  • January-March: 2014 data and reports released
  • July: Survey opens
  • October: Survey deadline
  • December: 2015 data released
  • January 2016: 2015 reports released


"CDS is an important tool for providing comparative data to senior leadership. What we get back is more than worth the time spent completing it. We're often just verifying last year's responses, and it’s been very helpful to have preloaded data so we don’t have to start from scratch."

— Kyle Johnson
Dean of Information Technology
Chaminade University of Honolulu


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