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     October 5, 2009

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The mainframe is planning for retirement

Less than five years ago, the IBM mainframe was the center of enterprise systems for Purdue University business. It contained more than 50 systems, 71,000 programs, 61,000 files, 500,000 records, and with volumes consuming more than 3.5 Terabytes of space. Today, the SAP and SunGard Banner systems run on distributed Oracle, Windows, and Unix servers in ITaP, and there are about 15 processes remaining on the mainframe.

About nine months ago, Julie Miller of IT Enterprise Applications was assigned as project manager of this initiative with one goal – Move all data and applications off the mainframe before July, 2011. With only an executive steering committee and a couple staff who had other full-time assignments, Miller and committee determined that an approach for moving historical data needed to be approved quickly, and work needed to commence as soon as possible in order to meet this goal. In March 2009, a general methodology for moving the data was tested as a proof of concept. Miller said that the data archival approach met the following requirements of the committee: a) safely secure sensitive data; b) make data accessible to people who need it using Cognos, SAS, and other query tools; and c) preserve integrity of data for audit and longitudinal research needs. The approach being used involves writing SAS programs to move the files from the mainframe and store them in a SQL Database.

“Having moved all financial and Physical Facilities system data files, we made excellent progress in a short period” says Miller. “We are in the process of moving Human Resources data files and will begin to focus on Student data files this fall.”

Lee Gordon, Assistant Vice President for Student Services Technology and Assessment, says moving student data files will prove to be more complex. “Over 70 percent of all data on the mainframe are student records”, says Gordon. “We also need to continue business processes that are currently on the mainframe, such as academic transcript generation and 1098-T reporting.” Gordon said that decisions will be made soon about business continuation of these processes.

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