Virginia Community College System (VCCS)
one of the world's largest student information systems
With 77,334 full-time-equivalent
students and a combined credit and non-credit enrollment approaching 350,000
individuals annually, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) has
"big-time" computing needs. But beyond academic record keeping, there
is the need to provide students with E-mail and Web applications. VCCS
also needs HRIS and a full-fledged accounting system. Its requirements
are the college equivalent of a business ERP system.
Over the years, the college computing
system grew up in an IBM mainframe CICS environment with a variety of
COBOL apps. Now, VCCS has embarked on a multi-college Student Information
System (SIS) integration project. This includes converting to a Web-based
system utilizing PeopleSoft and an Oracle database running on IBM 580
and SP servers. With 350,000 students on 39 campuses covering the entire
state of Virginia, Larry Hengehold, vice chancellor of information technology
services at VCCS, believes this is the largest PeopleSoft student information
system in the world.
Rather than write conversion programs
to transfer data, such as directory information for hundreds of thousands
of students, the project employs the ActiveWorks Integration System, Active
Software's message broker technology, to move and translate the data from
the legacy system to PeopleSoft. This conversion is being done in four
phases, and is scheduled for completion at the end of 2001.
Project: VCCS multi-college Student
Purpose: To integrate legacy apps to
an e-business Web site, allowing real-time Internet access to student
registration, E-mail, security, college directories and library
Benefits: Increased services, timely
information retrieval and self-service activities.
Platforms: Oracle, PeopleSoft
The first phase of the project,
begun in June 1999, had a very tight deadline. VCCS wanted the SIS system
up and running so students could access records, registration materials,
directories and E-mail via the Web in time for classes in November 1999.
Hengehold credits ActiveWorks with making it possible for a team of two
VCCS IT professionals and one Active Software consultant to design, implement
and deploy the initial SIS applications in three person-weeks.
Because ActiveWorks does conversions
automatically, it saved programming time and costs. Also, the bi-directional
capability of the message broker to move from legacy to the PeopleSoft
system, and from PeopleSoft back to legacy, means there is less risk of
downtime. If IT runs into a glitch during implementation of a new PeopleSoft
SIS app, for example, they can simply move the data back to the legacy
system and run the old app until the new one is up and running.
ActiveWorks is at the
center of the SIS "hub-and-spoke" architecture that provides a central point
for sharing data across disparate systems. The project employs the ActiveWorks
adapters for PeopleSoft and the Oracle databases. This allows SIS apps to
exchange information via bi-directional pathways between the native format
and the information broker, so end users accessing the system through PC-based
Web browsers receive information seamlessly in real time. Hengehold plans
to employ ActiveWorks to handle any messaging needs that arise as SIS expands
and matures. For example, when PeopleSoft, Oracle or any other software
vendor provides an upgrade or new version, IT will be able to phase in the
updated software with ActiveWorks providing whatever data conversion is
required between the old and new systems.
ActiveWorks Integration System from
you don't have to worry about integrating different vendors," said Hengehold.
"It's an infrastructure piece that you put in your network for your message
broker. It allows us to be network-oriented rather than database-oriented."
— Rich Seeley