Monday, March 23, 2009

Banner 8 - An Early Adopter Story

Presentation: Banner 8 – An Early Adopter’s Story
Presenter: Kathryn Matuch, Drexel University

It is here where I thank my lucky stars that I moved to an organization that is NOT into early adoption.

Hopefully, I’ll get a preview of the hiccups and priorities with this upgrade. See if I missed anything during my initial evaluation of our baseline instance.

BTW – “Baseline instance” means an installation of the application with no modifications. Designed as the vendor sells it.

My takeaway - as a trainer, watch and ask about technical issues during the upgrade.
Not a lot to train unless there is a process change as a result of reviewing new features.


Drexel – 4 campuses, including 1 in Sacramento, CA.
(funny how universities are now all about branding rather than location)

They went live with 8.1.

(This is going to be a technical presentation – you may not see that many notes)

Small windows available for upgrade
- Monday over Xmas holiday.
- Use quarter term system. Not a lot of downtime.

The System Administrators in the Student and HR systems wanted the new functionality
- Multi-year encumbering
- Algorithmic packaging
- Course wait listing

To limit the amount of work involved – limit all modifications. One set of code for all campuses.

They use practically everything except ODS/EDW or new Enrollment Management Solution

Have home grown and 3rd party products with hooks into Banner (really important when implementing to know what these are)
- Banner 8 upgrade not too difficult
- Big piece was to make sure your integrated pieces don’t break. (3rd party and homegrown)

How many people?
- IRT (5 DBAs – 1 dedicated to Banner, 1 70%, 3 came on board fast)
+ 14 Software engineers
+ 4 systems people
+ 1 Lumis Application Admin

- System Administrators (liaisons between IRT and the end-user)
+ 13 Drexel Student, Financial Aid, Admissions
+ 6 finance, HR, Accounts Receivable
+ 4 hosted schools.
+ Responsible for data QA, initial troubleshooting, etc.

- March 2008 – Early Adopter program (past Beta)
- June 2008 – agreed to participate (already had trial character set. Server roadmap being developed already since knew were going to be replacing servers)
- July 2008 – database conversions and baseline Banner 8
+ Apply baseline mods (trying to stay close to baseline)
+ Test 3rd party databases – look for required changes
+ PIN documentation and impact reviewed and questioned.
+ Finalize hardware needs
- September 2008 – release code for testing
+ System Administrators begin comprehensive Banner 8 testing
+ Any C programming changes tackled. Reviewed baseline code. Gotta change the code to support UTF-8
+ Had direct contact with the SunGard developers
+ Encrypting the PIN is NOT OPTIONAL (for tech folks using this – this will make more sense. Potential headache. Definitely impacts your reports and how things go out to the students. Also impacts Duplicate PIDM process – for those who know what I am talking about.).
- September 2008 – of course there was also a 3rd party upgrade scheduled. Had to move to whole new architecture on one of their major systems.
- October 2008 – (more tech prep and testing. All of this is back-end. Speaking in code for those who know it.)
- November 2008 – Banner 8.1 installation and hardware installation.
+ Lesson here – watch migrating files, machine name changes, host key verification and tns name issues. Most result of migration issues to new hardware.
+ Took time to streamline and do base configuration management so everything talks to each other. Great opportunity to document.
+ Saw COBOL and C issues surface. If in 64 bit environment, can’t compile COBOL right now.
+ Configure production manager.
- Go live December 08.
+ Production down for a week due to load issues (oooh……this is bad.)
-- (I’ve saw this in the EMR upgrade with a new product. Works great in test. Works well with smaller institutions. Go live. Bad juju.)
+ Received emergency build and index rebuild and configuration changes.

(at this point, absolutely no training involved whatsoever in this discussion. I am getting the impression that training for the upgrade really isn’t that important. All end-user issues mentioned in the sessions I’ve run into so far have been technical, not training.)


Jools said...

Hi Wendy, my institution goes live with Banner 8.3 in 2/ this point we have determined that only minor changes to training and docs are required except as we may decide to implement a new feature like waitlist sooner... so trainers have been drafted for testing support; coordinating the testing schedule, preparing scripts, etc. which keeps us busy and in exactly the right place to identify any training needs that may arise from this upgrade. Our motto is 'on time, on budget.'

Wendy said...

Julie - those are the conclusions we are coming to as well.

Our big focus during this implementation is going to be getting our installation "back to vanilla." Any re-training on our end is going to be functional.

I'm personally using it as an excuse to also change some of the baseline training and support because the end-user base is going to be primed for change anyway. Seemed like a good opportunity :')

Kirk said...

Can anyone share some general examples of custom code changes that might be necessary to implement as a result of upgrading to Banner 8, specificaly in regards to the new UTF8 character set?

Our organization tries to keep custom code changes to a minimum but we all know that users like extra features, so we do support some non-baseline code which will need to be functional in Banner 8, if possible.

Wendy said...

Kirk - we are in the throes of upgrading now. If I can get the info from our analysts, I will try to pass it on.

You may want to get in touch with Sungard and join one of the Sungard User Groups. Ask your question to them. You should get some great feedback.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

What was the solution to the cobol compile problem?