Oracle started at the head of the class at California Polytechnic University, and over the past eight years has remained there under the guidance and support of the University's CIO, Jerry Hanley.
In late 1997, Hanley, also the vice provost for IT services at Cal Poly, gave Oracle the old college try and hasn't looked back since, building on the Oracle infrastructure year after year.
Today, the 25,000 students, faculty and other staff that call the university their place of higher learning are currently taking part in the many stages of a migration from Oracle 9i technology to the 10g suite of database and collaboration products.
In the late 1997 Hanley, who is also a member of the Oracle Higher Education Advisory board, decided to migrate to Oracle on the database from IBM DB2 running on Unix.
Just five years later, Hanley, formerly a 25-year veteran of telecommunications business with AT&T, took his IT staff of 120 and adopted the Oracle Collaboration Suite. Today, all of the university's database and collaboration technology is Oracle-based.
"We're moving to 10g in the collaboration suite in the fall [of 2005]," Hanley said. "We expect to be at the 10g level on the database level even sooner."
Hanley said he believed Cal Poly's exclusive use of their infrastructure came as a result of the database centric approach of the Redwood Shores, Calif.-based technology giant.
"Companies that don't think about a very secure and available back end database are in a position where they are not going to scale, remain secure or survive," Hanley said. "From my perspective the fact that Oracle started out as a database company is like a hidden advantage for where I think the world is going to go."
Hanley said his IT department is currently working on an applications-related project concerning the integration of their learning management system, called Blackboard.
Blackboard Inc., the Washington, D.C.-based creator of the software, is an enterprise software company specializing in online education. According to the Blackboard Web site, the company was founded with a vision to transform the Internet into a powerful environment for the education experience, and traces its roots to its original teaching and learning software platform, CourseInfo.
"We are integrating Blackboard into a range of what we call 'Fusion deliverable,'" Hanley said, adding that his staff is working on a project that looks at how they will integrate Blackboard with its core Oracle system.
The university currently uses PeopleSoft for its enterprise applications software, Hanley said, and will be migrating to Fusion. Future migration plans also include a migration to Linux, he said.
"We are seeing real growth in high available real application clusters [with Linux]," Hanley said.
Hanley had some advice for CIOs and administrators who might be thinking about a migration.
"The level of complexity [of a migration], the complexity of the patching and integrating, should not be underestimated," Hanley said.
Hanley also cautioned fellow university CIOs about what he perceived as an upcoming debate on compliance issues.
"From my perspective universities are facing a lot of [compliance issues] nowadays," Hanley said. "This is a big thing because over time the compliance issue is going to become very political, very fast."