KFUPM upgrades for education excellence

Saudi Arabia’s KFUPM has completed an upgrade of its core Ellucian Banner and Luminis systems, to improve services and administration and prepare for new technology growth

Tags: EducationEllucian (www.ellucian.com)King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM)Saudi Arabia
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KFUPM upgrades for education excellence Othman Al-Numair, Manager of Academic Information Systems, and Project Manager for the Banner & Luminis Upgrade project, KFUPM.
By  Mark Sutton Published  May 9, 2014

“The old version of Banner, at the time, 2008, was working with Windows XP — now Windows is upgraded and some other applications, for example Java, have been upgraded and need new versions,” Al-Numair said. “The old version of Banner could not handle the new version of Java, this is the difficulty we face. We have to upgrade the system so that other applications can work with the new system. After the upgrade, we did not receive any complaints from users about applications not working.”

The university decided to go with a complete upgrade of systems, including switching to new hardware, and updating the databases, to Oracle 11g. The Banner solution was upgraded from version 7.X, to the latest stable version, 8.X, and Luminis Portal was upgraded from 3 to 5.

The whole process of upgrading took around one year, including training sessions for all stakeholders across the university. Ellucian consultants for both Banner and Luminis worked closely with the KFUPM team to deliver the project, and the system went live in October this year.

The first big test of the new system came in November, during the peak student registration period, Al-Numair said: “The most important user, the most critical user for Banner, is the student. During registration on 17th November, the students were happy. After two weeks of registration, they did not face any issues, any problems, the performance of Banner was perfect, along with the portal. After two weeks, we saw a lot of feedback from the students on social media platforms such as Twitter and the KFUPM forum along with many ‘thank you’ and appreciation messages.”

The upgraded Banner solution has provided enhanced performance and stability for KFUPM in the administration of students. The new version of Luminis has also allowed the introduction, and integration of a lot more services into a single sign-on portal, creating a one-stop-shop for students and faculty. Luminis utilises portlets, pluggable user interface software components, which enable integration with solutions including the university’s Oracle eBusiness Suite, Symphony Library System, Print Quota System, healthcare, telephone billing, mail and calendar. The portal also enables an applications dashboard for smartphones and tablets and other devices, to make more services available on mobile platforms.

“There is a big difference between the old and new systems. The new Luminis that we have now, has more features for students, faculty and staff. In the new version, there are more services that are combined in one place. For example, I can use many services such as library, blackboard, Banner, e-business, email and calender and so on, with just a single sign-on.”

With the new systems in place, KFUPM is now planning for a potential upgrade to the latest version of Banner, Banner XE (Extensible Ecosystem), although as this is new technology, KFUPM will carefully assess the new platform before initiating any new plans.

“We have a plan to upgrade our current Banner to the latest version of XE, but as you know XE is still a new technology and still in the stage of growing, so we need time to see the feedback from other universities and their experience,” Al-Numair explained. “The main purpose of the upgrade is because we want to follow the technology and remain current with local and international universities and we don’t want to be left behind. Definitely we will need to follow this [technology] trend in future, so it is better that we stay up-to-date.”

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