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December 21, 2010

University's migration aims at simple goals

Bob Adams, director of the Washington State Board of Community and Technical College's Portfolio and Project Management Office, has planned his 18-month migration off of 3000s with basic goals. Moving the apps intact, without changes, has been his aim since September 2009.

Some third party solutions used at the colleges were ready with a version for HP-UX, the SBCTC project target. One solution which moved from the 3000 to the Unix environment was Hillary Software's byRequest e-forms and PDF report solution. The software is used by the colleges in varying processes. “It's been pretty transparent,” Adams said of the tool that's been serving the colleges since 1999.

Hillary engineered byRequest to work with a bedrock technical solution, Speedware's AMXW environment emulation tool. AMXW takes the place of SBCTC's home-grown job scheduler, for example. But some 3000-specific pieces will be replaced with new software, created by 3000 developers. Adams pointed to the Dictionary/3000 data repository, which feeds the colleges' reports.

“We didn't actually replace Dictionary/3000,” “[UDA Link] still uses that database to get its file and database structures," Adams said. The TransAction replacement for the colleges' Transact supplies the needed replacement for the repository.”

Speedware's Didem Chatalolu said that the company had five full-time staffers at one time dedicated to the Transact/TransAction issue of the project. The migration vendor said it's been able to apply resources as needed to accomplish the code migration within schedule.

Sometimes a customer's code syntax is modified to adapt to target technology, Koppe said; a 3000 COBOL to Micro Focus COBOL project works this way. However, in any migration which uses legacy tech as extensively as at SBCTC, the tools must be modified to transition the apps.

“ScreenJet's team worked to make their product 100 percent compatible with the customer's code,” Koppe said. “The onus was on ScreenJet, to make the product work flawlessly. That makes the cycles a bit longer than patching up code here.”

Transition redux, sans servers
     About 100,000 students attend the SBCTC colleges, and 25,000 employees work in the system, Adams said. “Scale-wise, this is huge. It's in the billions of dollars that we are processing.”

The work that Speedware, its partners and the college IT staff is doing will move the organization onto HP-UX next year, Adams expects. But he only sees some parts of the shifted solutions as having a 5-7-year lifespan before they move again, probably to a managed services platform: the cloud.

Speedware had to work within the colleges' budget throughout a project that saw a 20 percent cut in overall expenditures. All of the SBCTC servers are now relocated into a central datacenter where the HP Integrity server will do the work begun in 1982 by HP 3000s. But a hosted ERP setup without servers onsite, is the ultimate goal, in Adams' view.

The bottom line is that this project was our last chance to get this thing done right,” he said. “We weren't going to change technologies. All we wanted to do was extend what we have.”

09:13 AM in Migration, User Reports | Permalink

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