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This summer, ITS is starting to upgrade the University’s Oracle software to a newer version. The upgrade, which ITS Infrastructure & Operations expect to complete by November, will monumentally change the way ITS configures the infrastructure of Carolina’s databases.

With the updating of Oracle to the 19c version from 12.2, ITS introduces automation. Automation will make it easier for Infrastructure & Operations to implement security updates in the future and to minimize the probability of errors.

Scotia Roopnarine
Scotia Roopnarine

Until now, each Oracle upgrade was done by Database Administrators performing manual configuration changes.

“The manual process isn’t consistent or standardized, and it takes longer,” said Scotia Roopnarine, Director of Applications for Infrastructure & Operations.

By introducing automated upgrades through Oracle version 19c, the Infrastructure & Operations team aims to reduce the chance of errors.

“We’ve been able to develop and see that automation does work, condenses the time and makes the process that was once manual and arduous very quick and streamlined,” Roopnarine said.

Aligns with Carolina Next

Automating Oracle upgrades will also reduce the number of employees needed to run testing comparisons in the future, freeing up time to focus on more value-add tasks.

The project’s focus on resource efficiency directly aligns with the University’s Carolina Next strategic plan. The Carolina Next plan outlines the University’s improvement goals over the next three years, including a commitment to automating student support services.

Groups across ITS, in fact, are examining possible new resource-saving opportunities through automation. The Infrastructure & Operations team hopes that automation will soon be widespread for many processes.

“Setting automation into motion for the future is something that is much bigger than what we’re doing now,” Roopnarine said.

Lasting impact

Brenda Carpen
Brenda Carpen

The Oracle upgrade to the 19c version requires updates to PeopleSoft, the system the University has configured as ConnectCarolina. It serves as the University’s integrated system for student administration, finance and HR/payroll.

The automation ability of Oracle 19c will roughly cut in half the time to update PeopleSoft.

“We’re looking at a timeline of three and a half months to update PeopleSoft, which previously took six months,” said Infrastructure & Operations Project Manager Brenda Carpen. “We’re not only reducing the timeline for this but also reducing the risk of errors.”

Timeline of careful planning

In May, the Infrastructure & Operations started talking through the impacts of the upgrade. After considering all of the risks that come along with the upgrade, the team ran a test upgrade of a smaller development area in an attempt to emulate how long the upgrade would take for PeopleSoft.  The team determined a timeline on the practice test and then started working with ITS Enterprise Applications.

Having that collaborative relationship with Enterprise Applications was a priority, Carpen said.

Not flashy, but really important

Infrastructure & Operations team implements new technology in support of the University’s high-level applications, like ConnectCarolina, and updates existing technology to keep things current for campus operations and users, like for this Oracle upgrade. Sometimes upgrades — again, like this one — are also necessary when vendors will no longer support their older versions of the software. Oracle will no longer support its 12.2 version beginning in December.

“It’s not all brand-new functionality for you to see,” Carpen said. “Upgrades aren’t flashy but are really important and need to happen so that all of our business processes can continue to function.”

Said Carpen: “Implementing technology that allows us to be more flexible and be proactive as opposed to reactive will help us respond quickly in the future.”

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