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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)


CDS data helps you to address the 2014 top-ten IT issues, for example:

  • Issue #1 — Supporting student outcomes with IT. Identify early adopters of academic advising and early alert systems so you can conduct best practices research (Module 8: Information Systems dashboard).
  • Issue #2 — Developing a partnership between IT and institutional leadership. Identify peers with similar reporting structures so you can collaborate on communicating the value of IT to certain lines of business (Module 1: CIO).
  • Issue #3 — Assisting faculty with instructional technologies. Benchmark your institution's service portfolio for faculty support so you can assess the degree to which your institution addresses faculty needs (Module 3: Ed Tech Services).


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



  • July 18: Survey opens
  • November 7: Survey deadline
  • December 15: Extension deadline
  • December: 2014 data released
  • January 2015: 2014 trends 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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