The University of Central Florida (UCF) is the second-largest university in the country in one of the 10 fastest-growing states in the nation. With more than 200 academic programs and a large portion of Florida’s college-age population centered in Orlando and its surrounding counties, the university has become a prime choice for undergraduate and graduate students from Florida and across the nation. Since 1995, UCF’s enrollment has nearly tripled, and today it serves approximately 60,000 students.
UCF is an academic and research leader, offering programs in fields such as optics, modeling and simulation, engineering and computer science, business administration, education, science, hospitality management, and digital media. The university, which operates a main campus in Orlando and nine regional campuses in Central Florida, has 12 colleges, including a medical school established in 2006.
To help streamline academic administration, manage continued growth, and meet growing demand for web-enabled platforms and self-service options, the university required a powerful, scalable, and reliable IT infrastructure. UCF looked to Oracle for software and hardware solutions to help it continually improve operational and academic excellence, as well as student satisfaction.
Today, the university relies on Oracle’s PeopleSoft 9.1 applications, PeopleSoft PeopleTools 8.5, PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, and Oracle Database on Oracle’s SPARC Enterprise T-Series and M-Series servers running Oracle Solaris. It also deployed Oracle’s StorageTek SL3000 modular library system and StorageTek SL150 modular tape library.
Over the years, UCF has continued to expand its Oracle footprint. Most recently it implemented the Academic Advisement module within PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to support its student success initiative, which focuses on increasing and accelerating degree/certificate completion and reducing the number of excess credit hours that students accumulate on the way to earning their degree or certificate. The new academic advisement solution is live for graduate advising and will go live for undergraduates in 2015.
UCF first deployed Oracle’s PeopleSoft applications and SPARC servers in 1997 as it began to grow rapidly. To improve student experience, the university focused on building capacity to deliver services ahead of need—adopting the motto “Online, not in line.”
Today, UCF’s Oracle infrastructure supports and automates a wide-array of administrative processes, including financial, supply chain, human resources, academic reporting, and financial aid functions, as well as online courses and class assignments. With the unparalleled reliability, availability, and scalability of PeopleSoft applications and SPARC servers, running Oracle Solaris, UCF provides connectivity to nearly 60,000 students, as well as faculty and staff, and meets surges in demand during even the busiest days of the academic year.
In 2011, the university upgraded to PeopleSoft Financials 9.1, PeopleSoft Supply Chain Planning 9.1, and PeopleSoft Customer Relationship Management (CRM) 9.1 applications, which are integrated with PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and PeopleSoft Human Capital Management, to help it maintain its reputation for technology leadership and better serve its user base, which has matured and elevated its expectations.
Focusing on Student Success
Focused on educational excellence for every student, UCF has launched a student success initiative that relies on big data and analytics and is intended to increase and accelerate degree/certificate completion. The initiative assesses student progress toward a degree/certificate and provides targeted and timely support to maximize success.
“We have flags in place to keep students on a success trajectory, and we do this predictably and analytically to prevent issues that would hinder student success,” said Joel Hartman, vice provost and CIO, University of Central Florida.
The university’s legacy degree audit request system had complex integrations with a number of applications, including the institution’s PeopleSoft CRM and PeopleSoft Campus Solutions applications. It was increasingly difficult to maintain and required significant manual processes.
UCF replaced its graduate degree audit request system (DARS) with PeopleSoft Academic Advisement, which seamlessly integrates information from the university’s PeopleSoft CRM and student systems.
Students can access their degree audits by logging into the myUCF portal, built on PeopleSoft Applications Portal. Faculty and staff who are officially designated as advisors in the PeopleSoft system also have access through the myUCF portal. The new system supports “what-if” audits to assist students and advisors in determining how a student’s courses would apply if they were admitted to another program. It also provides greater and more immediate visibility into student progress, streamlines degree certifications, and is easy to use and navigate.
PeopleSoft Academic Advisement saves student, advisor, and administrative time and overhead costs, including paper consumption. With the legacy environment, staff members had to scan paper documents printed from DARS into the PeopleSoft Campus Solutions environment to audit and certify degrees for more than 8,000 graduate students. Now, advisors can manage the entire degree audit and certification process from a single platform. The savings will multiply when approximately 50,000 undergraduate students are added to the system.
“Our ultimate goal was to encourage students to complete their degree and certification programs efficiently, accumulating the minimum number of excess credit hours, to result in quality education at a lower cost,” said Bob Yanckello, chief technology officer, University of Central Florida. “Oracle helps us provide students with real-time access to their records and university services. Students also can easily monitor their graduation units and efficiently plan their courses to minimize excess units, and, thereby, reduce the cost of education.”
To ensure high availability for its business-critical applications, UCF runs Oracle’s SPARC T4 and SPARC Enterprise M-series servers on Oracle Solaris. The university is using SPARC T4 servers to refresh its PeopleSoft production application server tier for PeopleSoft Campus Solutions and PeopleSoft Applications Portal.
UCF uses SPARC Enterprise M-series servers to support the university’s Oracle Active Data Guard environment, which keeps copies of the university’s most critical databases running at two additional locations. In addition, the servers support UCF’s IT development environments, its federated identity management system, and distance learning system.
“Oracle’s SPARC servers provide the performance and scalability needed to ensure that students, faculty, and staff have access to the system even during the most severe traffic spikes,” Yanckello said. “With SPARC servers running on Oracle Solaris, we reap further benefits. Our IT team members are experienced with the Oracle Solaris platform, which helps us to jumpstart projects and build new systems consistently.”
With Oracle hardware, UCF has reduced annual maintenance costs by more than US$120,000, improved system performance by 4x, and reduced operating costs and energy consumption with efficient, space-saving servers.
Oracle’s StorageTek SL3000 modular library system is a critical component of UCF’s data protection architecture, and the university is using the solution for offline storage. It also recently deployed StorageTek SL150 modular tape library and is enjoying faster tape drives with double the capacity, as well as high stability and efficiency. The solution is highly reliable and provides continued support of hardware encryption for all tape media. The university is protecting approximately 1.4 petabytes of data on tape.