Faster U of T student registration, future modernization

It’s a project that has converted 2 million lines of code, replaced a 1,000 kg mainframe server and will modernize U of T’s student information system, ROSI, for years to come. Set to launch on November 19, the Next Generation Student Information Services (NGSIS) has been updating the system’s platform to enhance services for U of T’s staff and students.

Led by U of T’s Information Technology Services, the NGSIS Platform Modernization Project has been focused on improving system performance and capacity, and real-time integration with other applications.

“We’ve converted the old code into Java, which is more flexible and resilient, and we’ve moved from the mainframe server to more cost-effective blade servers.” says Frank Boshoff, senior manager, technical solutions and architecture with Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI). “The new platform will provide a foundation for improved information flow, and we’ll be able to get the right information to the right people at the right time.”

The three-year project has involved EASI, Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions (EIS), and Information Security. As well, it has included extensive cross-campus consultations and stakeholder engagement.

During peak registration periods, 15,000 students will be able to use the system via ACORN simultaneously, versus the current 700. It will also open up the potential for live integration with divisional systems, and ensure U of T stays at the forefront of technological innovation.

So far, the project team has completed the initial build, system testing, system integration and performance testing. They have also conducted user acceptance testing with over 100 users from all three campuses, and have successfully completed dry run cutovers during October.

The training team is currently visiting divisions for a second round of information sessions, and is offering training through online videos, webinars, open forums and hands-on-help. After all of this preparation, the final cutover will happen from end-of-day November 16 to beginning-of-day November 19.

The next phase of the project will involve developing the Data Decision Support System, which will be a near real-time copy of the platform. It will allow staff to perform operational and analytical reports more quickly during peak registration periods. ACORN will also perform faster for students as they no longer need to compete with administrative staff for processing power.

“This project has been the culmination of lots of planning – it’s one of the largest university-wide initiatives undertaken since the original implementation of ROSI,” says Cathy Eberts, executive director of EASI. “It requires a lot of user feedback and it’s truly a partnership between information technology and our divisional end-users.”

Benefits of the NGSIS Platform Modernization Project:

  • Permits 15,000 students to access the system via ACORN simultaneously versus the current 700
  • Opens up the potential for live integration between divisional systems and ROSI
  • Provides new option for PDF output
  • Allows for a modern file management interface
  • Helps U of T stay at the forefront of technological innovation