School District Learns to Migrate
The Payoff of Being a Pricer, Not a Cheaper

School District Goes Native for Migration

By James Harding
UNICON Conversion Technologies

Second of two parts

When Oregon's Medford School District looked at a long-term plan for the student information systems on its HP 3000, MSD looked at options to purchase a new student system application for another platform, homestead on the 3000 for the foreseeable future, re-write the system in house, or hire outside help to re-write.

MSD ultimately selected what UNICON calls its ‘native’ approach. FUJITSU COBOL .NET was chosen as the target programming language running on Microsoft Windows and utilizing Microsoft SQL Server for the database. VPlus screens were converted to Winforms using Visual Basic as the code-behind.

MSD said the the benefits of going native were immediately apparent. From a staffing perspective, IT Manager Keith Brabham would on the one hand be able to retain his HP COBOL programmers along with their invaluable knowledge of the applications and business rules — since transitioning from programming in HP COBOL to FUJITSU COBOL was relatively straightforward, But when these staff members moved on, replacement would no longer be a concern.

“When staff turned over, we wanted to be able to select from a large pool of qualified applicants,” Brabham said. “We wanted a system that would be viable for at least 10 years or more. By migrating to native Windows .NET. further development could be achieved in any .NET-compliant language.”

Another benefit for MSD was user impact. “Minimizing change [to our user community] was a driving force of every decision we made” Brabham said. “We didn’t want the users to have to learn a new system. And while we knew some changes would be unavoidable when migrating to the new platform, UNICON helped us minimize the impact of our changes by working closely with us.”

With up to 800 concurrent users on the system, MSD wanted a Windows platform that not only adequately handled the workloads, but one that would provide them room for growth and scalability well into the future. MSD selected Dell for its hardware needs and procured a system that effortlessly handled the required workloads at a price in the region of $50,000.

In addition to meeting MSD’s needs to migrate away from the HP 3000, UNICON’s pure, native approach also delivered major modernization to the applications. Not only did the solution empower MSD to preserve all the valuable investments made over the years in its custom software, it brought them to the forefront of today’s computing and database technologies.

The school district is now able to leverage the rich features and benefits that come with open systems architecture — and benefit from the power and versatility of full relational database management systems. Brabham is in no doubt that UNICON’s solution was the right way to go.

“We are very happy with our migration,” he said. “I am extremely confident in the direction we have chosen. This will make it much easier to continue rewriting and enhancing our system in the .NET world. I would definitely recommend UNICON to anyone seeking to migrate to open platforms.”