Pacific Lutheran University Improves Database System Speed for Ongoing Data Volume Growth and Mobile Application Deployment
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Pacific Lutheran University Improves Database System Speed for Ongoing Data Volume Growth and Mobile Application Deployment

Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) is a private Christian liberal arts college located in Parkland, a suburb of Tacoma, Washington, that offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a variety of academic disciplines. It is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. PLU has approximately 3,500 students enrolled between the graduate and undergraduate programs. As of 2012, the school employs 283 full-time professors on the 156-acre woodland campus.

The university recently needed to move to the newest releases of Banner—the enterprise resource planning (ERP) and student system software suite from Ellucian (formerly Sungard)—which supports various administrative and student-facing processes including admissions, registration, advising, and financial aid. The latest software releases required a move to Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Linux for continued support. A long-time Oracle Database customer, PLU made the move to the latest version and experienced even greater performance and reliability than ever before, due to non-disruptive patching, no impact to the enterprise resource planning application, and more integrated features. With Oracle, PLU is well-positioned for continued growth as it estimates data volume could rise by 10 gigabytes every five years as the university rolls out new IT systems and services, including mobile applications for students.




A word from Pacific Lutheran University

  • “Oracle Database 11g is a very powerful system. Oracle, in conjunction with our ERP and student system applications, enables us to stay on the leading edge of technology to most effectively serve our students, faculty, and staff.” – Kathleen O’Donnell, Database Administrator

  • Upgrade database to version supported by third party enterprise resource planning (ERP) and student system provider
  • Stay current on support and move to a more modern operating system to support ongoing educational needs for students, faculty, and staff
  • Position the university for steadily rising data volume growth and prepare for the shift to mobile applications for students


  • Upgraded to Oracle Database 11g and Oracle Linux to support the university’s Banner ERP system from Ellucian (previously Sungard)—providing uninterrupted, excellent service to 3,500 students, as well as faculty and staff
  • Positioned for future growth, as the university’s database has grown from 50 to 60 gigabytes in the last three years and expects to grow by 10 gigabytes every five years
  • Put the technology foundation in place to start offering mobile applications to the student population
  • Moved to virtualized system with Oracle, reducing ongoing ERP costs by $300,000 over seven years by cutting license requirements
  • Improved database system speed and performance, ensuring online administrative and student systems are always up and running for the university’s constituents
  • Maintained a consistent level of hardware replacement with Oracle Linux, by eliminating the need to make a major hardware purchase every five to seven years and saving the university hundreds of thousands of dollars over the long term
  • Used Oracle Enterprise Manager to enable a small team of four employees to monitor all campus technology systems, ensure optimal performance, and easily maintain an updated patch environment
  • Used My Oracle Support to easily open, maintain, and follow service requests as needed
  • Improved the university’s ability to enforce stricter security measures

Why Oracle

“What I really love about Oracle is that Oracle either leads the revolution or is very well aware of what is happening and is there to support its customers with new technology and a seamless way of getting there. The upgrade process gets better, stronger, and easier to track.” – Kathleen O’Donnell, Database Administrator, Pacific Lutheran University

Implementation Process

To move to the latest Banner software release, Pacific Lutheran needed to upgrade to Oracle Database 11g and move to Oracle Linux. The university put together a “sandbox” environment in June 2011 to train its system analysts on the new technology. It built a test server and loaded it by October 2011 for end user testing. Pacific Lutheran went live on December 28, 2011, ahead of schedule.

Since going live, the organization has also benefited from Oracle Premier Support to ensure a high performing system.

“We are very pleased with the high level of customer support and technical assistance Oracle makes available to us. Oracle acts immediately to resolve even the smallest problem, demonstrating a level of commitment that has exceeded our expectations. Our investment in Oracle Premier Support is incredibly valuable, and we wouldn’t think of not having coverage of all our Oracle software,” O’Donnell said.