Skip to main content

Upgrades & integrating vendor software

The last month we seem to have spent a lot of time dealing with projects to upgrade various  systems.  We run a large number of such systems, covering everything from virtual learning environments and wikis to student record systems and timetabling, and also encompassing underlying middleware software.  I say "vendor systems" but some of these are open-source projects maintained by a global community.  Others are traditional vendors, ranging from large multi-national corporations to niche vendors of HE products.

We have encountered problems with a number of systems, from various sources.    Some of these have been bugs in the third-party software.  I won't name the systems, nor even say what functions they perform, as I don't want to bring any particular vendor into disrepute.  Other issues have turned out to be caused by mistakes in our own systems.  In one failed upgrade, we kept the existing system running on one site while we upgraded the system on the backup site, only for the tests to fail; it turned out that the problem was a setting in the load balancer that we were using to separate traffic between the two sites.

Upgrade failures are very frustrating for everyone involved.  We have responded quickly in all cases.  Usually we have brought an external consultant on site for a couple of days, as a new pair of eyes can help to diagnose problems.  The consultants don't always find the underlying problem but sometimes they do, and at least they can confirm that we aren't missing anything obvious.

In most cases we have resolved the issues and the upgrades have either proceeded or are due to proceed shortly. One or two do remain and we are working with the vendors to find a way forward.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…