Skip to main content

Starting a new academic year

We always plan to have the IT systems run smoothly at the start of the academic year.  This is the time when many new students first come to the university and find their way around, when personal tutors discuss their students' academic plans, and when the new systems we have implemented over the previous year come into full use. 

It is usually this last point that can throw a spanner in the works.  This year, we installed a new learning environment, replacing the aging WebCT with Learn 9; we applied the annual upgrade to the EUCLID student record system (which is needed to cope with changes in government regulations, let alone improvements in functionality); we rolled out the first version of software to support personal tutors; we upgraded several databases from Oracle 9 (which is no longer supported) to Oracle 11, and we continued to upgrade our Cold Fusion servers. Although we test each of these systems, we can be caught out when staff and students start to use the systems in earnest.

This year, we had problems on three separate systems - our main database server, our main application server, and our main hosting server.  These combined to give less than satisfactory performance.  People will mostly seen this as the MyEd portal taking a long time to log them in.  The problems had several different roots.  The hosting server failed to reboot properly following a network problem, which meant that some MyEd channels were very slow.  The database server was slowed by a rogue indexing process related to Learn 9 and also from some other applications using too much memory.  The application server seems to have had an unrelated hardware glitch.

Our support teams have worked hard to resolve these problems and keep everyone informed.  My development staff have helped to debug some of the issues.  The major issues seem to have been dealt with and we should be back to business as usual.

We will also be reviewing the situation to see what we can learn for the future.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

2016 has been a good year

So much has happened over the last year with our Enterprise Architecture practice that it's hard to write a succinct summary.  For my day-to-day experience as enterprise architect, the biggest change is that I now have a team to work with.  This time last year, I was in the middle of a 12-month secondment to create the EA practice, working mainly on my own.  Now my post has been made permanent and I have recruited two members of staff to help meet the University's architectural needs.

I have spent a lot of the year meeting people, listening to their concerns and explaining how architecture can help them.  This communication remains vital, the absolute core of what we do and we will continue to meet people in this way.  We also talk to people in other Universities in order to learn from what they are doing and to share our own experience back.  A highlight in this regard was my trip to the USA last January.

Our biggest deliverable for the past year was the design of the data wa…

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…