Callista Software Services Improves Client Satisfaction with Student Management Systems through Advanced, User-Friendly Features and Forms
 
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Callista Software Services Improves Client Satisfaction with Student Management Systems through Advanced, User-Friendly Features and Forms

Callista Software Services (Callista) provides enterprise resource planning software and student management systems for about a third of Australia’s tertiary education institutions. The company develops and delivers the Oracle-based Callista Student Management System (SMS), a comprehensive software system for universities and Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. More than 300,000 local and international students around Australia—and hundreds of academic and administrative support staff—use Callista SMS and associated services daily to manage the entire student lifecycle, from initial inquiries about courses, to graduation.

Callista upgraded to Oracle Application Development Framework 11g (Oracle ADF 11g), Oracle JDeveloper 11g, Oracle WebLogic Server 11g, Oracle Forms 11g, and Oracle Reports 11g to align its student management system with evolving tertiary education business practices and requirements. It has improved the system’s functionality by upgrading more than 1,500 forms and reports, improving features available to Callista SMS users, and cutting total costs for clients to apply patching and upgrades.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Callista Software Services

  • “Oracle ADF 11g has allowed us to satisfy our customers by providing the first phase in our next-generation student management system. Callista SMS is now user-friendly, highly configurable, and ready for future growth.” – Evan Vicary, General Manager of Technology and Research, Callista

  • Modernize its student management system by developing a more user-friendly interface and addressing new demands from users, such as relating the system to applications, like Facebook and Twitter
  • Upgrade the system’s architecture from Oracle ADF 10g to Oracle ADF 11g to improve system performance and ensure system updates could be sent to clients with minimum disruption to their daily student management processes
  • Migrate more than 1,500 built-in Oracle forms, reports, and Web services to the Oracle Fusion Middleware 11g platform
  • Utilize previously unavailable advanced features and benefits of Oracle ADF 11g and Oracle JDeveloper 11g, such as bounded task flows
  • Align the student management system with evolving tertiary education business practices and requirements

Solutions

  • Developed and implemented the new Callista SMS quickly by reusing Oracle ADF components and applying planning and research methods learned from the implementation of Oracle ADF 10g
  • Enhanced the student management system’s performance by migrating approximately 1,300 forms, 70 reports, and eight Web services in Oracle ADF 11g, and building about 300 Oracle ADF pages and 75 bounded task flows (totaling approximately 150 entity objects)
  • Reduced system downtime for higher education and TAFE institution clients by eliminating the need to redeploy Callista SMS for each patch installation and upgrade
  • Cut total costs for clients’ patches and upgrades by enabling them to minimize risk of bugs and providing required testing to assure the quality of changes
  • Enhanced users’ experiences by introducing new capabilities similar to Web-based conventions used on Google or Facebook, and allowing users to easily complete complex, daily, student-management tasks online
  • Increased user satisfaction rates by developing new menu features and functions that enabled clients to control color, font, and text size, and create online forms—for course enrollment, for example—that match institution branding
  • Improved features available to Callista SMS users by including advanced functions and system extensions, such as the ability to propose, manage, and approve new university courses and units
  • Satisfied company and client requirements by continuing to support the current student management system without interruption, while performing a controlled migration to the new system
  • Allowed tertiary-education institutions to better communicate with their students and student support staff by building advanced communication features into Callista SMS, such as e-mail, text messaging, and mail-outs
  • Improved company reputation and credibility by winning an Oracle Innovation Award 2011 for developing a modern, advanced student management technology using innovative Oracle technology

Why Oracle

Callista chose Oracle ADF 11g, as it was an application that would be easy to transition to and would integrate with existing Oracle Forms and Oracle Database products.

“Oracle ADF 11g was very compatible with the technology we were already using, and Oracle offered support to help our developers with the transition from Oracle Forms to Oracle ADF,” said Evan Vicary, general manager of technology and research, Callista.

The company chose Oracle WebLogic Server 11g as the platform for Callista SMS, since it wanted a more modular architecture that could handle a large number of shared libraries.

“We prototyped approximately 1,000 shared libraries on Oracle WebLogic Server, just to make sure that the approach we were using would actually work,” said Vicary. “WebLogic Server was able to handle that, which was very reassuring for us.”

Another benefit of Oracle WebLogic Server 11g was that Callista could run its entire student management system from the same deployment platform. This would allow a much easier integration between Oracle Forms 11g and Oracle ADF 11g, provide a unified view to Callista SMS users, and allow the company to modernize the system without disrupting clients’ daily student management tasks. It would also enable clients to complete upgrades and patching without redeploying their entire system.

Implementation Process

Callista deployed its upgraded student management system in several stages over a period of about two years. In August 2010, the company released a version that ran on Oracle Database 11g to enable clients to move initially to the Oracle 11g platform. In March 2011, it upgraded the system to include Oracle Forms 11g, Oracle Reports 11g, and Oracle WebLogic Server 11g.

In early 2012, Callista released the final upgrade of its student management system, including functions that have been built with Oracle ADF 11g.

“We deployed it in stages, as wanted to deliver the Oracle 11g platform as quickly as possible,” said Vicary. “A lot of our clients have invested in local customizations, so we wanted to let them upgrade their local developments first, before rolling out the rest of the system.”

Partner

Callista used several Oracle partners at various stages of its student management system upgrade. Sage Computing Services provided the company with training in Oracle JDeveloper 11g and Oracle ADF 11g; Red Samurai Consulting reviewed the system architecture; and Rubicon Red acted as a consulting resource.

“We were happy with the involvement of all the Oracle partners we used,” said Vicary.