Internet Academia

University College of Bahrain is shifting its core applications to the cloud in a bid to reduce cost, improve functionality and create an ICT environment that intensifies the teaching and learning process

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Internet Academia Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa.
By  Greg Wilson Published  April 6, 2016

The small IT team at the University College of Bahrain (UCB) has ambitious plans to transform its teaching and learning environment, starting with a plan to migrate its core applications to the cloud. Rather than spend its time grappling with servers and application up time, it wants to shift its focus to service delivery.

“The whole notion of the university is to focus on teaching and learning, everything else should just fade into the background… but all the tools are at their fingertips,” explains Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa, executive director, technology & innovation, University College Bahrain. “We’re fuelling our education through technology. We’re making sure that everybody has the best tools,” he adds.

The 500-student university’s initial step in building its digital academia is the migration to a cloud-based student information system (SIS) and associated enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.

The project, which kicked off in mid-February and will run for next the four to five months, will see the university migrate away from its collection of locally-hosted, standalone Oracle applications to Ellucian’s Quercus student administration application and related financials and human resources modules.

“This is not just the student information system, but it involves HR and financial modules… so in effect it is a full ERP,” says Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa.

The initial roll-out has two primary objectives – reducing the overall operating cost and improving functionality for both students and administration staff, largely due to greater application integration.

The migration towards the cloud will reduce both UCB’s licensing and support fees. Its current suite of aging Oracle applications is increasingly ‘restrictive’ says Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa. If the university needs to make changes to its core applications it has, in the past flown, in expertise. However, the costs are “just unsustainable”, he adds.

Under the terms of the Ellucian deal, software updates are handled by the vendor remotely.

The other major saving for the university is the Oracle licensing fees which are “very high,” comments Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa.

“This system solves the problems that we were facing; first of all it is much more affordable… and it is more efficient and more cost effective. We want to concentrate on teaching and learning, not managing IT,” he adds.

The migration to the cloud is a means to an end; when completed, it will enable UCB’s team to improve its delivery of IT services. Currently, if the core applications crash, it is not uncommon that they remain down for as long as a week. “And that is a massive hassle for everybody,” says Sheikh Abdulla Al-Khalifa.

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