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Higher Education

Navarro goes for the gold with Oracle Cloud

Navarro College is a lot more than its award-winning cheer team – though its 14 National Championship trophies are hard to ignore! That plucky, fearless spirit is representative of the institution itself, a four-campus community college that annually serves around 20,000 students in the North Texas region, with a mission to empower students and provide socioeconomic uplift to its broader community. And to meet these transformative goals, it’s partnering up with Oracle.  While Navarro has its own unique identity and mission, its challenges are shared among many other community colleges: a long-outdated ERP system, a small IT shop, siloed staff and systems, and a limited budget. The institution’s desire to improve student services, modernize business operations, and increase cybersecurity has led Navarro to go all in with Oracle, adopting Oracle Cloud ERP, EPM, HCM, CX, and Student Financial Planning. Now, as Navarro College President Kevin Fegan, Ed., shared with Oracle Higher Education Development VP Nicole Engelbert in our June 2021 fireside chat, “With Oracle, Navarro College is going to evolve from the transactional to the transformational.”  “Moving to Oracle Cloud is as important to Navarro College as our founding in 1946,” Dr. Fegan says. “In order to pursue our vision to be a nationally-recognized higher education institution and deliver innovative pathways and student-centered learning, our technology must be at the highest level, and the Oracle Cloud will provide that for us.” In particular, four elements led Navarro to Oracle: it provides a fully-cloud based platform for security and data recovery; automation; decentralized data management; and affordability.  “Moving to Oracle Cloud is as important to Navarro College as our founding in 1946. In order to pursue our vision to be a nationally-recognized higher education institution and deliver innovative pathways and student-centered learning, our technology must be at the highest level, and the Oracle Cloud will provide that for us.”                 -    Kevin Fegan, Ed.D                          President, Navarro College District Navarro’s staff was surprised to learn that moving to Oracle Cloud made economic sense, even on a community college’s budget. “We couldn’t afford not to make the investment,” Dr. Fegan says, as their outdated ERP and host of third-party systems were labor-intensive and pricey, without adding business value. “In time, it was going to be less expensive for us to make this transition to Oracle. There are some upfront costs, but once we work through that, we’re going to save money.” In addition, Dr. Fegan adds that “our revenue potential will be substantially increased” because Oracle’s integrated platform and analytics will provide better insights into the student populations Navarro can recruit and retain. “Student success and institutional success is built on the relationships and partnerships you share,” Dr. Fegan says, “and you have to free up the business components or technical components of what the staff does to give them that time.” This is where Oracle Cloud’s true value lies: for example, a financial aid report that previously took six hours -- four hours to generate, and two hours to analyze -- takes just ten minutes with Oracle Student Financial Planning. Now, as Dr. Fegan says, “they’ve got five hours and fifty minutes to do something with that data and develop those relationships.”    To learn more about Navarro College’s partnership with Oracle, its strategy to achieve campus-wide buy-in, and Dr. Fegan’s recommendations for other schools embarking upon a technology initiative, watch the webcast, read our case study on Navarro College, or our press release on the growing number of community colleges joining the Oracle SFP community.   

Navarro College is a lot more than its award-winning cheer team – though its 14 National Championship trophies are hard to ignore! That plucky, fearless spirit is representative of the institution...

Surveying the Post-Pandemic Academic Perspective from Inside Higher Education and Oracle

In May 2021, Inside Higher Ed released its Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, conducted by Hanover Research. Oracle has sponsored IHE’s College and University Business Officers survey for the past several years, and we’re equally proud to show our commitment to our industry’s core mission of teaching, learning, and research, as well as our dedication to finding answers to some of our industry’s greatest challenges. In fact, while Oracle’s solutions aren’t traditionally associated with teaching and learning, they are a fundamental part of the ecosystem that promotes – or inhibits – student outcomes. Our solutions provide all users, from students to staff, with a more seamless, more informed experience that will lead to improved academic and personal outcomes. This is because Oracle’s overall mission is to help people see data in new ways, discover insights, and unlock endless possibilities at their institution. For example, Student Cloud empowers all academic models, from traditional term-based academic programs to “pay-to-enroll” continuing ed and other non-term-based academic offerings, Cloud HCM supports faculty and professional development, Cloud ERP finds costs-savings for institutions to channel back into research and student-centric efforts, and Cloud PPM allows institutions to manage the grants process. Oracle’s mission is to help people see data in new ways, discover insights, and unlock endless possibilities at their institution. In the survey, 183 provosts and academic affairs officers from a wide range of institutions shared about their colleges and universities’ experiences. IHE’s questions ranged from exploring changes in institutional policy and mission to the post-pandemic financial health of their institution to professional development opportunities. What becomes apparent while reviewing this survey is that Oracle’s solutions can help institutional leadership make the most well-informed decisions for their institution’s success and sustainability. And with three decades of experience partnering with higher education institutions, we are constantly updating our solutions to provide the capabilities that will help our customers meet their current and future challenges.   85% of provosts report that financial concerns are top of mind as they assess and create new academic programs, with 69% believing that funding for these programs will come from the reallocation of existing revenue (pg. 58); similarly, 69% of respondents believe that they will be cutting underperforming academic programs (pg. 42). Using Oracle Cloud EPM provides institutions with insight into which programs are in most-demand and generate the most value for their institution (though this author, a former writing and literature instructor, hopes that a liberal arts foundation remains central to education, a belief that 90% of provosts share!).  A whopping 85 percent of respondents plan to increase collaboration with other colleges and universities in the next year (pg. 42), but enabling academic sharing across different institutions usually requires manual intervention and configurations from staff. To meet this need, we’ve engineered , Oracle Student Management Cloud to “make the complex simple” – especially when it comes to academic sharing. Our multi-entity capability will allow institutions to dynamically enable peer-to-peer sharing for shared academic programs, while still maintaining legal and academic independence elsewhere. In addition, where provosts note gaps in communicating effectively with faculty (pg. 18-21) or lack of professional development offerings (pg. 38-41), Oracle Cloud CX and HCM can offer more comprehensive ways to engage with faculty and other constituents, provide them with professional development and training, and even manage the tenure process. Read the survey for more findings and check out some of our other thought leadership pieces on the future of higher education: the Inside Higher Ed Chief Business Officers survey, our whitepaper on establishing a student-centric financial aid process, or our ebook about how our higher education customers are building their resilience with Oracle.    

In May 2021, Inside Higher Ed released its Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, conducted by Hanover Research. Oracle has sponsored IHE’s College and University Business Officers...

Higher Education

The First Step Towards Embracing Change

Within the culture of higher education, a spirit of mentorship and learning thrives: not only for students, but for staff. Those of us fortunate enough to have worked in the field know that it provides a safe place     to share candid feedback and discuss career goals. People are never shy in asking "What are you going  to do next?" Normally, I’m never at a loss for words, but  I always stumbled through an inarticulate answer that essentially amounted to an admission that I had no idea. I fundamentally loved the work I was doing at the University of Wyoming—but a part of me desired change. At UW, I had the privilege of working with an amazing project team to implement Oracle Cloud ERP and HCM, in 2017 and 2019 respectively.  In this role, I oversaw our Executive Business Analyst team: a special, hand-picked team that would build a culture of continuous improvement at UW. Paired with Oracle Cloud’s platform that adds enhancements every quarter, we were able to develop a cadence of three enhancements/process improvements per month. The more UW fully leveraged Oracle Cloud, the more I understood and appreciated the vision and direction that Oracle had taken when developing the product. Not only did our Oracle Cloud platform help us streamline our processes, it also provided us new tools—such as the ability to have suppliers self-register—that then removed paper-based processes and manual, duplicative data entry. By streamlining these back-end processes, more resources could be redirected towards mission critical activities—teaching, research, and service. I loved this continuous cadence, knowing that we were always working towards creating efficiencies and saving our campus their most valuable resource—time.   Despite enjoying my work, my colleagues’ question—“What next?”—still made me wonder. I dabbled in a few other areas of higher education via some special projects at the UW, but I still most enjoyed my work supporting UW’s continual financial transformation. Even my external, collaborative work with the Higher Education User Group (HEUG) Oracle Cloud ERP/HCM Advisory group further reinforced my interest and passion for using technology to revolutionize business processes. Then I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in a job opportunity at Oracle to serve clients who were beginning or had completed their cloud journey.   And it all suddenly clicked. I saw this new role as an opportunity to take my passion for and experience in financial transformation and continuous process improvement to a larger community, in a way I had not thought possible. Higher education is at a crossroads as an industry. It can either choose to adapt to budget reductions, changing enrollments and delivery methodologies…or it can fail. Admittedly, change is hard for higher education institutions, but starting with a financial or human resources transformation is a significant first step. And because Oracle systems push innovation every quarter and enable the reallocating of staff resources, they are a critical first tool that helps campuses embrace transformation.  I still remember the first moment I saw UW begin to make this shift. I was presenting to a group of 150+ peers, demoing the new Newsfeed user interface in our development instance. The first two comments related to how people couldn’t handle any more change.  But then the third person raised his hand and said, very simply, “I like it! This is great.”  And with that, the tide turned. Our users were excited, even thrilled, by this new interface and its ease of navigation. I’ll never forget that moment because it demonstrated that higher education could change.  I love our industry and I want it to survive, and thrive, in the coming decades. Thus, we need to help campuses become comfortable with change. Once your back-end systems start to create change acceptance on campuses, the possibility for change in other areas abound. That is why I’ve joined Oracle, because I can help clients as they begin their cloud journeys and build flexible, adaptable institutions. When you transition to Oracle Cloud, you are not only getting a strong, track-tested, finance and HR platform, you are getting the most critical tool your institution may ever acquire—one that will allow your organization to expand its mindset and embrace change.

Within the culture of higher education, a spirit of mentorship and learning thrives: not only for students, but for staff. Those of us fortunate enough to have worked in the field know that...

Higher Education

Oracle Cloud EPM and the “New Rutgers”

Today’s finance professionals know that Enterprise Performance Management provides a useful toolkit for forward-thinking companies and higher education institutions. How? It helps them uncover new insights, plan for the future, and find greater operational efficiencies to advance their core institutional missions of teaching, research, and public service. And throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Oracle Cloud EPM’s ability to navigate scenarios of financial uncertainty - budget cuts, reduced funding, fluctuating student populations – has been helpful to  Rutgers University.  In Oracle’s May 2021 webinar, Ernie DiSandro, Rutgers’ Associate Vice President and University Controller, shared how Oracle EPM has helped Rutgers reinvent its financial processes and pursue finance modernization over the past three years. Rutgers, a public research university and member of the Big Ten conference, is made up of three regional campuses in Newark, New Brunswick, and Camden, and one academic health center (Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences) and serves over 71K undergraduate and graduate students on a $4.5B annual budget. When the state enacted legislation to merge most of the units of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) with Rutgers in 2013, it kicked off a multi-year program to “understand and define what ‘the new Rutgers’ would look like,” DiSandro says. To support this institutional transformation, Rutgers needed to leverage cloud technologies, adopt new administrative systems, and transform business processes. Adopting Oracle Cloud ERP and EPM was an initial step.     With Oracle Cloud EPM, we’ve moved from an annual close process to a monthly close. - Ernie DiSandro, Associate Vice President and University Controller, Rutgers University   Along with Oracle Cloud ERP, the implementation of the Oracle EPM suite enables Rutgers’ overall effort towards standardizing business processes and improving collaboration across various campuses and units. Oracle EPM provides insight into a broad range of accounting, financial, strategic, and operational management processes, from automating the close process to providing workforce planning capabilities. In doing so, EPM supports the university's staff's financial stewardship of the university’s funds.    Oracle Cloud EPM offers a wide range of capabilities, such as planning and budgeting, forecasting, account reconciliation, financial close and consolidation, and cost of education/responsibility center management. Rutgers’ ability to streamline their financial close was enabled by tools like Close Manager (in EPM’s Financial Consolidation and Close module), where they can build a monthly template, create a schedule and keep track of what tasks have been fulfilled and what tasks are still outstanding. By moving to a monthly close, Rutgers can track their financial spend more accurately and consistently and expedite their year-end audit.   EPM Account Reconciliation allows Rutgers to manage its 1000+ balance sheet accounts, and ultimately rationalize and eliminate over 300 balance sheet accounts, while the Compliance Dashboard’s “traffic light” indicators help with accountability by visualizing which users have completed their reconciliations, and which users might be in need of a nudge. Another key module is Narrative Reporting, which helps manage the production of the university’s annual financials report, “which used to be extremely manual and paper-based; the Controller’s Office was full of binders and schedules,” Di Sandro says. “Three years ago, we implemented Narrative Reporting to eliminate paper and automate the production of the financial statement, but more importantly, we streamlined the overall process, so that the functional owner or contributor actually owns their own part of the document.” Now, Rutgers’ users can collaborate securely throughout the entire reporting process, without requiring a middle- administrator to compile the document.  In addition, EPM Planning allows Rutgers to manage workforce planning and employee compensation and expenses (which make up 65% of Rutgers’ operating expense base); this capability is even more useful when integrated with Oracle Cloud HCM. Rutgers used Oracle Cloud EPM and ERP during the COVID-19 pandemic to tackle challenges such as moving to remote operations and managing student refunds and budget cuts. Oracle EPM enabled Rutgers to have more dependable financial data and better forecasting and scenario planning. “We used Oracle tools to analyze millions of dollars in refunds for housing and dining issued to students and families, and to understand the impact on our bottom line,” DiSandro says. “And we were able to access these tools remotely; because of the COVID-19 pandemic we did the whole audit with the audit team and external auditors entirely remotely last year.”  To learn more about Rutgers’ future plans for its EPM and Oracle Cloud journey, and to hear Ernie’s top three tips for other schools embarking upon their own EPM implementation, check out the webinar, where you’ll also get an in-depth look into Cloud EPM’s features and functionalities. For even more on EPM, read our ebook, Measuring the Value of Oracle Cloud EPM, or request a demo here.

Today’s finance professionals know that Enterprise Performance Management provides a useful toolkit for forward-thinking companies and higher education institutions. How? It helps them uncover new...

Oracle Student Financial Planning: More than a Game-Changer

When I rejoined Oracle in 2017 to lead our Higher Education Development team, my number one objective was to build and support solutions that empower our schools and, more importantly, their students. This ambition has informed our development of Oracle’s truly modern, cloud-native student system, Student Cloud, which is engineered to make the complex simple by giving institutions the tools they need to embrace continuous change.  Supporting student agency is a mission I carry out in my personal life, too. I mentor local students in the Bay Area, and one of the things I always say is that “education is your passport to the future.” Research shows that a post-secondary degree is one of the chief enablers to increase your wage potential, find economic stability, and to support your career and personal development – which I know from my own experience. While our Student Cloud focus is currently centered on the US market, some of you may know that I attended university in Australia – I’m a loud and proud University of Technology Sydney alumna – where secondary education is more affordable than in the States. However, if my family and I had had to pay today’s prices in the United States (where the average cost of attendance is $25K at a public, in-state university or $53K at a private nonprofit), I’m not sure I would have been able to graduate with my computer science degree and pursue the career I have now. That’s why I’m so passionate about tackling affordability in higher education, and why in 2018 we acquired Vocado Student Financial Planning to become the financial aid module of Student Cloud. Financial aid is one of the most complex, and most important, elements in a student system, and the design, architecture, and innovation of Vocado was perfectly aligned to our vision for what a student system can and should be. You’ve heard us talk about how much of a game-changer SFP is. But I think it’s even more important to say that the potential to attend college – and do so with as little debt as possible, and with greater transparency around your borrowing decisions – isn’t just a game-changer; it’s a life-changer as well.  SFP is transformational for administrative staff and for students, enabling automation to simplify processes and to help quickly provide students with the maximum amount of funding possible. In other words, SFP takes financial aid out the back office and moves it to the institutional foreground, by delivering an exceptional, streamlined experience that will help students focus on their desired academic and professional outcomes. Financial aid is a necessity for 83.5% of US students today, and we want as many of those students as possible to benefit from SFP. If education is the passport to the future, financial aid is the first step to getting that passport.   SFP takes financial aid out the back office and moves it to the institutional foreground, by delivering an exceptional, streamlined experience that will help students focus on their desired academic and professional outcomes. - Vivian Wong, GVP of Higher Education Development, Oracle   In the nearly three years of our SFP journey, SFP has received an astonishing response from our Campus Solutions customers and from institutions new to the Oracle family, who are all looking to spend time on students, not process. In fact, with all the new customers who have adopted SFP in the last year, we have now doubled the number of students who will be able to benefit from SFP. Our first Campus Solutions customer, Butler University has been fully packaging and disbursing aid with SFP since 2020. Other members of the SFP family include Florida A&M University, an HBCU where the majority of students are Pell Grant-eligible; Rutgers University, a Big 10 public research university; and faith-based Spring Arbor University. Furthermore, SFP can fit into any institution’s systems landscape in a variety of ways. It can be adopted as a standalone product or, like Spring Arbor is choosing, as part of Student Cloud. Butler and FAMU are using Oracle’s delivered out-of-the-box integration between Campus Solutions and SFP; this integration is facilitating the migration of our installed base to our cloud student system, at the pace and timing that meets each institution’s unique context. Regardless, all of these schools are striving to fulfil a moral and social responsibility to make education more affordable, and I am so proud that they trust Oracle to help them fulfill that goal. Together, we will “swing wide the campus gates.” As part of this effort, Oracle Higher Education Development is launching our first-ever Student Advisory Group this fall, centered around SFP and financial aid. This group of students will advise our SFP product development team on design, features, and functionality from their perspective, and in turn learn about the technology development process and gain public-speaking and other professionalization skills. You can read about it here – and if you belong to an SFP school, please encourage your students to apply!  If you want to learn even more about SFP and our customers, read our ebook on the importance of taking a student-centric approach to higher ed’s affordability crisis. You can also watch our recent webinar with FAMU to hear about SFP’s role in their institution’s mission of affordability and debt-reduction for their graduates.  You can also start a conversation with me on LinkedIn, Twitter, or here in the comments. I’m excited to keep sharing our journey and vision for SFP and higher education, and I want to hear more about yours, too.

When I rejoined Oracle in 2017 to lead our Higher Education Development team, my number one objective was to build and support solutions that empower our schools and, more importantly, their students....

Higher Education

Bowie State University and Coppin State University transform the financial aid experience with Oracle Student Financial Planning

  The merry month of May is full of special occasions: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, even a day to celebrate Star Wars. But for those of us in the higher ed industry, May represents spring graduation: one of the most meaningful events in a student’s journey. Whether these ceremonies take place in-person or virtually, they allow an institutional community to celebrate not just a student’s academic achievements, but the professional and earning potential that their diploma or certification confers upon that graduate. There’s been plenty of research on how higher education symbolically and literally enriches the lives of students, families, and their broader communities. This belief in the value of higher education is why HBCUs (historically black colleges and universities) were established: to improve access, increase diversity, and provide academic excellence at an affordable price. A study conducted by the United Negro College Fund found that HBCUs generate $14.8B in economic impact each year, and that the 50,000 HBCU graduates in 2014 are predicted to earn $130B over their lifetimes – a 56% increase over their earning potential without a college credential. The economic and social impact of the HBCU community is profound: while HBCUs make up only 3% of all total U.S. higher education institutions, they produce nearly 20% of all Black graduates. This month Oracle welcomes Coppin State University and Bowie State University to the Oracle Student Financial Planning family. Together with Florida A&M University, these schools represent Oracle’s growing momentum in the HBCU community. This growing momentum is an endorsement of Oracle’s vision to “swing wide the campus gates” and increase access and affordability for students. We also hope that the addition of institutions whose primary mission is equity and social justice will help SFP continue to evolve the ways it helps institutions spend time on students.   “Our focus at Coppin is to transform our students’ experience. With Oracle Student Financial Planning, we can offer our students increased visibility into their college financial planning, and an easier digital experience. This will support them in making better informed decisions with improved outcomes, helping ensure greater success.” - Ahmed El-Haggen, CIO and VP of Information Technology and Advancement, Coppin State University Bowie State and Coppin State belong to the University System of Maryland, a public system made up of three regional centers and twelve institutions (three of which are classified as HBCUs). Both institutions are committed to supporting underserved populations: 36% of Bowie State and 68% of Coppin State students are first-generation students, and 50% of Bowie State and 60% of Coppin State students receive Pell Grants. Bowie State University has been named as one of the top five Maryland institutions for graduating Black students with bachelor’s degrees in nursing, biology and computer sciences, and its cybersecurity program has been designated by the NSA and the DHS as a National Center of Academic Excellence. “At Bowie State University, we are working to remove the financial barriers that too often prevent students from successfully completing their education,” Brian Clemmons, Bowie State’s Vice President for Enrollment Management, says. “Oracle Student Financial Planning will provide a window for students to see their full financial picture as they explore options to pay for college and the digital dashboard enables them to seamlessly navigate through the financial aid processes to secure all available resources to assure their success.”                     Founded in 1900, Coppin State is known for supporting a large population of nontraditional, multigenerational students: for example, the average age of a Coppin State student is 26, and 61% are working adults with children.  As Ahmed El-Haggan, Coppin State’s CIO and VP of Information Technology and Advancement, says, “Our focus at Coppin is to transform our students’ experience. With Oracle Student Financial Planning, we can offer our students increased visibility into their college financial planning, and an easier digital experience. This will support them in making better informed decisions with improved outcomes, helping ensure greater success.” The value of a Bowie State or Coppin State degree is immense: the UNCF estimates that graduates from these schools will earn (over their lifetimes) nearly $1M in additional income due to their credentials. Accordingly, these schools recognize that providing students with a more transparent financial aid process will help students make more informed choices and minimize debt as they pursue their education. Oracle SFP will be fundamental to the work of the financial aid office. Automating up to 90% of the financial aid process, from ISIR processing to disbursement, SFP empowers financial aid officers to move away from manual processes (such as managing ISIR verification or confirming student eligibility for different types of federal and non-federal funding). Instead, they can spend time assisting their students in more meaningful ways -- ensuring they make it across that graduation stage. “At Bowie State University, we are working to remove the financial barriers that too often prevent students from successfully completing their education. Oracle Student Financial Planning will provide a window for students to see their full financial picture as they explore options to pay for college and the digital dashboard enables them to seamlessly navigate through the financial aid processes to secure all available resources to assure their success. - Brian Clemmons, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Bowie State University To learn more about Oracle Student Financial Planning, visit our website or this recent Inside Higher Ed article featuring implementing customers, FAMU and Spring Arbor University. You can also watch our February 2021 webinar to hear FAMU’s VP of Student Affairs, Dr. William Hudson, Jr. talk about his school’s vision for financial aid and see a demo of SFP. Finally, register today for our upcoming webinar on May 5th, 2021 at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST, where Rutgers University’s AVP of Enrollment Services Jean McDonald-Rash will share how Rutgers is modernizing their own financial aid experience with Oracle Student Financial Planning. See you then!  

  The merry month of May is full of special occasions: Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, even a day to celebrate Star Wars. But for those of us in the higher ed industry, May represents spring graduation:...

Education and Research

Addressing data egress uncertainty for academia

Oracle has a deep understanding of the needs of the public sector built on four decades of experience. Oracle helps education and research institutions to enhance teaching, learning and research with innovative cloud solutions.  Predicting the unknown IT departments of large public institutions typically plan for annual or multi-year budget cycles using traditional pricing models designed for on-premises hardware and software procurements. Government funded research projects have total budget caps and rigid cost categories to claim direct and indirect expenses. Fitting the modern, flexible Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) cloud pricing models into these financial processes is challenging for public sector. Although it sounds attractive that institutions only pay for what they use, it is very difficult for them to plan budgets and cloud consumption upfront. The biggest unknowns are associated with hidden costs, unexpected overages and unused cloud credits.  Reassuring through the OCRE framework The higher education and research community in Europe, collaborating under the umbrella of the GÉANT Association, executed a joint public procurement tender for cloud services frameworks in 2020. The Open Cloud for Research Environments (OCRE) Framework helped address the requirement of predictable cloud pricing for academia. Oracle was successful in the tender, with cloud framework contracts awarded in all 40 framework countries, via 6 value-added reseller partners.  Addressing predictable pricing In a cloud environment, hidden costs are typically associated with those service metrics that are hard to predict due to unexpected behaviors of direct or indirect use. Networking, for instance, is an essential cloud component where ingress and egress traffic volumes coming to/from public Internet directions are difficult to estimate. Outgoing network traffic charges are vastly different depending on the cloud platforms, their upstream connectivity providers, geographical regions and commercial internet exchanges used. Since 2016, many big cloud vendors announced special egress traffic fee waivers – or rather discounts – to the research and education community, in order to help reduce uncertainty. Microsoft, Amazon and Google modified their initial pricing policies to waive Internet egress traffic charges up to a maximum of 15% of the total monthly consumption bill. They expect most of the higher education and research use cases to fit under this discount threshold. Oracle, however, took a different approach. Oracle guarantees free Internet egress traffic up to 10 TB data per month. This accommodates most of the usual academic usage scenarios. Moreover, above 10 TB data per month, Oracle's data egress traffic charges are the lowest in the industry, often by 80-90% in Europe and North America. Therefore Oracle provides cheaper and more predictable pricing should the traffic volume reach 15% of the monthly consumption bill or higher. Further discounts may be offered by the reseller partners depending on the actual academic use cases. Connecting to research networks In addition to the public Internet peering referred to above, Oracle FastConnect service provides dedicated private connectivity via the pan-European GÉANT network to academia where Oracle does not charge for any traffic volume. Read about how the solution helps the community in my other blog post.  For more information on Oracle cloud economics, please visit: https://www.oracle.com/cloud/economics/ Read the report on how to Modernize Your IT Infrastructure and Lower TCO with Oracle Cloud. 

Oracle has a deep understanding of the needs of the public sector built on four decades of experience. Oracle helps education and research institutions to enhance teaching, learning and research with...

Higher Education

Creating the Financial Aid Office of the Future with Florida A&M University and Oracle

  In February 2021, Dr. William Hudson, Florida A&M University’s VP of Student Affairs, joined Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education, to discuss the affordability crisis in higher education. While the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated economic instability, affordability has always been a major challenge in higher education: tuition at U.S. institutions has more than doubled in the past twenty years and student loan debt has skyrocketed to an alarming $1.7 trillion. As Dr. Hudson says, the higher ed industry “falls short not just in terms of funding but in how we educate individuals on how to receive funding, and how difficult we make that process to get the funding…we’ve got to streamline some of the processes to make funds readily available to those who are most needy.”  The only public HBCU in Florida, FAMU prides itself on its ability to support a large population of first-generation, Pell-eligible students. The institution attracts students not only because of its commitment to social justice and academic excellence, but because of its low tuition and proven potential for social mobility. “The majority of our students are Pell-eligible, between 60-65 percent, and over 80-85 percent receive some type of financial assistance to go to college,” Dr. Hudson says. While the average household income of many FAMU students is below $40,000 a year, “with a degree from FAMU many students make more financially than their family income.” Financial aid is a critical lever for enabling the success of FAMU students, Dr. Hudson says. “Many of our students have to work to support their families or to cover their own expenses. But financial aid allows them to focus on their academics and persist to graduation in four years.” In an effort to transform their financial aid capabilities, FAMU knew it needed an equally transformative financial aid tool: Oracle Student Financial Planning.    “If a student feels they have their financial aid all set up and they can focus solely on their academics - then their grades are going to improve, their persistence to graduation is going to improve, and their feeling about the campus and their experience is going to be better as well. All of that plays a role in student success.” - Dr. William Hudson, VP of Student Affairs Florida A&M University   “My vision for financial aid moving forward is going to be significantly impacted by Oracle [SFP],” Dr. Hudson says. He hopes that FAMU’s financial aid office will be known for its efficiency and excellent customer service, thanks to SFP’s streamlining of the application process, managing of electronic documents and signatures, simplified verification process, and more. He adds that “technology changes daily, so moving to a cloud platform was attractive to me,” as Oracle will manage all product updates, along with all changes to federal and state aid to keep FAMU in compliance. SFP will help the school with its goal of providing financial literacy as well: “leveraging technology to get rid of all the paperwork [will allow] our staff [to] spend more time educating students and parents and doing financial literacy with them early so that they understand what it means to take out a loan, and how it impacts them financially after college.” To learn more about Dr. Hudson’s recommendations for other schools looking to reimagine their financial aid offices with SFP, watch the webinar or read a recent Inside Higher Ed piece featuring FAMU and another SFP adopter, Spring Arbor University. In the webinar, you can also see Oracle Principal Sales Consultant Dave Curran demo SFP from two different perspectives, the Student Portal and the Staff Dashboard, learn more about SFP’s minimum automation rate of 85 percent for aid processing, award packaging, and disbursing, and even discover how to create tailored analytics reports in real time. If you’re interested in a demo of SFP, please contact your Oracle sales representative or email Oracle Strategic Sales Executive Derek Kurzenknabe (derek.kurzenknabe[at]oracle.com) and learn more about how you can build a financial aid office of the future at your institution, too.    

  In February 2021, Dr. William Hudson, Florida A&M University’s VP of Student Affairs, joined Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education, to discuss the affordability crisis in higher...

Higher Education

Leading Change Together at Alliance 2021

Alliance 2021 is just one week away! While it will be virtual, we’re excited to come to you, wherever you are, to share in this digital experience. This year’s theme, Leading Change Together, is truly germane: despite all the challenges of the past year, the higher ed community has embraced the pivot to new working and academic models. Alliance is an opportunity for institutions to come together, and we at Oracle can’t wait to share with – and just as importantly, learn from -- our customers about how our solutions are supporting the future of higher education.    Our forty sessions at this year’s Alliance will cover a lot of ground, from roadmaps to product deep-dives to panels with institutional leaders, students, our partners, and more. You won’t want to miss the Oracle roadmap sessions, which will be available on demand one week before the conference. Click here to see what’s new with Student Financial Planning, Campus Solutions and Student Management, and other Oracle Cloud solutions and learn more about new features and key benefits realized by existing customers.  Other can’t-miss sessions to check out (either live or later on demand): How Baylor’s Leadership Team Collaborated and Engaged the Campus to Reap the Benefits of Cloud  Monday, March 15th, 9:00-10:00 AM EST Student Panel on Improving the Financial Aid Experience Monday, March 15th, 11:40-12:40 PM EST CS/Vocado Student Financial Planning Integration Year in Review  Monday, March 15th, 1:00-2:00 PM EST Accelerating Research with Oracle High Performance Computing (Monday, March 15th, 2:20-3:20 PM EST) Extending the SIS to Continuing Education: Precollegiate Program Support and Other CE Capabilities (Tuesday, March 16th, 1:00-2:00 PM EST) What’s New with Campus Solutions: From Admissions and Student Records (Tuesday, March 16th, 4:20-5:20 PM EST) Rise of the Machines: Harnessing Automation to Deliver a More Compelling Student Experience (Tuesday, March 16th, 4:20-5:20 PM EST) Cloud HCM and ERP: Strategic Workforce Planning (Tuesday, March 16th, 6:30-7:30 PM EST) Anatomy of a Chatbot and Digital Assistant (Wednesday, March 17th, 5:40-6:10 PM EST)  Supporting Contactless Financial Aid: A Six-Foot Leap to Financial Aid’s Digital Transformation (Thursday, March 18th, 10:20-11:20 AM) Student Cloud Admissions: From Applicant to Acceptance (Thursday, March 18th, 1:00-2:00 PM EST) Building the Financial Aid Office of the Future Thursday, March 18th, 2:20-3:20 PM EST Seven Considerations for Accelerating Your Cloud Transformation (Thursday, March 18th, 5:40-6:10 PM EST) Mark your calendars – we can’t wait to see you soon!

Alliance 2021 is just one week away! While it will be virtual, we’re excited to come to you, wherever you are, to share in this digital experience. This year’s theme, Leading Change Together, is truly...

Expanding research infrastructure at Rice University

OpenNebula now interfaces with Oracle Cloud It always surprises me when researchers say, “wait…Oracle has a Cloud?” In fact, we do – a very robust and secure cloud with High-Performance Computing (HPC), fast networking, Autonomous Database, and more.  Through Oracle for Research, researchers get both free access to Oracle Cloud and free technical collaboration to optimize the use of cloud to accelerate their research. Through Oracle for Research, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Klara Jelinkova, CIO, and her wonderful team at Rice University. Rice is leading the expansion of research in Houston, sparking innovation and growing national visibility and computational capacity.  When Klara applied for a 2-year National Science Foundation (NSF) infrastructure grant to expand Rice’s HPC capacity for research, I was thrilled she invited Oracle for Research to collaborate with her. Under the grant, Rice would build out its on-premises data center, develop infrastructure to burst into a commercial cloud when needed, and share 20% of this goodness with the Open Science Group to advance research across the U.S. At Oracle, we were eager to advance her vision and the research mission at Rice, and supporting the NSF grant application to expand computational capacity was a natural fit.  If awarded, we anticipated a close collaboration, with teams from Rice and Oracle working side by side. This was 6 months B.C. (Before COVID).  By the time Rice learned it had been awarded the grant, the world was in lockdown. Like everything else, our collaboration went virtual.  We kicked off the project via Zoom in October, 2020, with the overarching objective of exploring the efficacy of cloud-bursting research workloads from the on-premises HPC cluster into Oracle Cloud.  To explore this, the team had to enable Open Nebula to interface with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI). Bursting from an on-prem environment into a commercial cloud for extra capacity sounds like it should be straightforward – just take the research workload that needs more capacity and move it between environments. In reality, this is a complex technical challenge. Research users, some of whom have little technical knowledge, need to be able to interface with the system to submit their workloads. Research workloads must be organized and prioritized within the on-prem environment. The on-prem environment must determine when and what type of extra capacity is needed, and be able to manage the workloads to optimize use of the cloud capacity. The research workloads that will move to the cloud must be transmitted and processed securely, efficiently and without disruption of the on-prem environment. Research results must be returned to the researcher the same way – securely, efficiently and without disruption of the on-prem environment. And, cloud capacity must automatically be spun up and spun down so research dollars are optimized. In understanding, this, a project that sounded like it was going to be an easy, one-mile flat loop is suddenly seeming a lot more like climbing Mt. Everest.  In both cases, though, the wisdom of Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu holds true: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. At Oracle, our technical teams engage in complex collaborative projects with customers every day. They are experts in simplifying the process through sophisticated project plans, assigning project roles and tasks, organizing cadence calls, and writing and testing code, and communicating in technical shorthand via Slack. Oracle for Research brings these technical collaborations to research teams at no cost.  Working with Erik Engquist, Director, Center for Research Computing, and his team at Rice, Oracle for Research and the OCI team plotted a map of milestones to move us forward, identifying a systems architecture and required capacity, integrating tools like Kubernetes and SlateCI for containerizing and orchestrating research workloads, and connecting and aligning the on-prem architecture with OCI.  The work includes developing and delivering an auto-scalable IaaS GPU enabled Kubernetes solution and the seamless integration of SlateCI with the Oracle Kubernetes Engine. Together, this enables Rice to administer and scale multiple on-premises and OCI Kubernetes clusters from a single interface. When Oracle for Research engages in research collaborations, we actively look for ways to develop community and help make connections between researchers. We also aim to build reusable images, tools, and documentation that can help researchers across disciplines accelerate their results. Sometimes, we find our way to interesting projects because researchers bring them to us. That was the case here: we were especially excited about the opportunity to develop the OpenNebula API driver and contribute it to the open source community.  OpenNebula is an open source platform to build and manage customized, enterprise cloud environments, and is used across the Rice University campus to make it easy for students, faculty and researchers to use Rice’s IT infrastructure.  It is a critical component of our collaboration with Rice to help expand their research computing capacity. “We are delighted that this project with Oracle has enabled Oracle and Rice to contribute this resource back to the OpenNebula community,” said Klara Jelinkova, CIO, Rice University. “The close collaboration between Oracle technical experts and my team has provided learning opportunities and enabled us to explore new and innovative technical solutions.” The creation and donation of the OpenNebula API is an early and exciting mile marker in the current journey that Oracle and Rice are on together, with many more to come. We are grateful for the ongoing and committed collaboration of our colleagues at Rice. For more information about Oracle for Research and how you can gain access to Oracle Cloud and technical collaborations to advance your work, please visit Oracle for Research.  

OpenNebula now interfaces with Oracle Cloud It always surprises me when researchers say, “wait…Oracle has a Cloud?” In fact, we do – a very robust and secure cloud with High-Performance Computing (HPC),...

Higher Education

Tech equity: How Oracle works with HBCUs to diversify the technology industry

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University produces more Black engineers than any other college except Georgia Tech. And that’s no small feat: with a student population of less than 13,000, NC A&T is half the size of its Atlanta-based rival. Like North Carolina A&T, other historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have thriving engineering programs. According to Oracle’s long-term partner, United Negro College Fund, the beneficiary of more than US$12 million in scholarships and in-kind giving from the company, approximately 25% of Black graduates with STEM degrees come from HBCUs, while almost 30% of Black graduates from science and engineering doctorate programs started college at an HBCU. But this success has not translated into diversity in the tech industry. Black Americans make up 13% of the nation’s workforce, but Black employees represent only 3 to 6% of workers at leading technology companies. To ensure a place for Black talent in the technology industry, Oracle is partnering with HBCUs to promote both the talent and demand for Black skills: first by investing in students and then by recruiting the talent from HBCUs to build a diversity of voices into the company’s workforce. “Our partnerships with HBCUs have a strategic goal: to build deeper and more impactful long-term relationships and a pipeline of technical talent,” says Brittiney Jones, diversity and inclusion consultant at Oracle. “To do that, we need to start well before the job interview and engage students upstream in their academic programs. We are building relationships with deans, faculty, and students that will extend beyond the classroom and help shape Oracle’s future.” Investing in talent To create space for Black voices to influence the future of Oracle, senior leadership has made a commitment to reach young engineers before they start their careers. An important early part of this effort was to enlist influential Oracle executives as sponsors of HBCUs to ensure that curriculums align with business. The company also has representation on the board of Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering (AMIE), a coalition of corporations, government agencies, and HBCU engineering schools. “We had to expand awareness of the valuable talent at HBCUs,” says Jones. “In the tech industry, most think of engineering schools and Ivy League Schools—places like MIT or Stanford. But there’s a whole world of engineering talent at HBCUs and they are hidden gems.” Introduction soon evolved into specific action. For example, Oracle Executive Vice President Steve Miranda is the executive sponsor of North Carolina A&T and is sponsoring a scholarship fund for students interested in product development. And Senior Vice President, Developer Services for Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Dan Gerrity is the executive sponsor to Morgan State University’s Computer Sciences and Engineering schools and works with both departments to create interdisciplinary courses, which he notes are key to understanding cloud technologies. He and his coworkers are also giving a series of undergraduate lectures, and have invested $100,000 to sponsor an Oracle Summer Coding Bootcamp on campus in 2021. Other Oracle executives oversee similar relationships with North Carolina A&T, Howard University, Southern University and A&M College, and others. “I learned the value of diverse perspectives when I was working with scientists from different fields to develop and patent new technologies at Intellectual Ventures,” says Gerrity about the impact he expects Black talent to have on Oracle’s business. “I saw that diversity is essential for synergy, which in turn is essential for superior results.” Jones expects that cultivating ongoing relationships at HBCUs will have a far greater impact than simply donating money, eventually culminating in coding camps and leadership development academies to support HBCU students. “There are lots of other ways our executives can nurture these programs, from sitting on advisory boards to mentoring students and faculty, giving guest lectures, and offering resources like free our cloud credits,” she says. Gerrity says for him, Morgan State is a great fit. “They were looking for help with curriculum development, which was something I’d had experience in and wanted to explore further. I also love to teach, and I can’t think of anything more worthwhile than giving people who traditionally haven’t had a serious chance a better shot to succeed in the cloud world.” From classrooms to careers But helping develop Black talent is only one part of the equation. You’ve got to put that talent to work. To that end, Oracle is recruiting more heavily than ever at HBCUs, focusing on the schools where executives are building relationships and investing in programs. “North Carolina A&T and Morgan State are two of our targets,” says Terrance Lockett, Oracle’s senior diversity program manager. He adds that, like everything else, recruiting has been tricky due to COVID-19. “But we’re looking forward to being back on campuses this fall.” One idea he hopes to launch: Coffee, Coding, and Culture, informal one-to-one sessions with interested Black students who seek a more private—and honest—dialogue. “They hear things from their peers about the tech world and Silicon Valley,” says Lockett. “They want to ask about issues like workplace microaggression and how to deal with it. If they’re going to move across the country, say from a Southern HBCU to the West Coast, they want to know what it’s going to be like.” Data Scientist Ronald Doku joined Oracle last summer after graduating from Howard University. He too had heard the tech world can be tough on young Black candidates. “I had read about things like the ‘impostor syndrome,’ where people don’t feel like they’re good enough or that they’ll ever belong,” he says. “Before my interviews, I psyched myself up, reminding myself that I got a good education, had good experience, and that, in fact, I did belong.” Huston-Tillotson University graduate Taleah Hawthorne and her grandparents, Drs. General and Lavon Marshall—both former deans at the HBCU.   To help candidates prepare for job interviews, Lockett created a learning resource, “How to Hack Your Oracle Interview,” which offers dos and don’ts, plus tips on what to expect. One key piece of advice: Be ready to explain—clearly and simply—the core business value of their engineering interests and to illustrate how they think and solve real-world problems. Oracle also offers a resume-writing workshop and a mentorship program for recent graduates from diverse backgrounds. Account Executive Taleah Hawthorne came to Oracle from Huston-Tillotson University, a small, private HBCU where her grandmother was dean of student affairs and her grandfather was dean of the math department. “My Oracle recruiter was really helpful in describing not only the job but Oracle’s culture as a whole,” she said. “That helped me transition from a college of only 1,000 students to a large organization.” She tells HT students who are considering jobs in tech to reach beyond HR and speak directly with employees. “They’ll share their experiences and their challenges, so you’ll get the bigger picture.” According to the US Department of Education, high schools with a majority of nonwhite students are far less likely to offer calculus and physics. Those that offer advanced STEM courses may be giving students their first taste of subjects such as coding, while in tech centers such as San Francisco students have access to coding at an earlier age. As a result, many minority students have to play catch-up in college, thanks to America’s public education gap. “Evaluating certain skills can be a matter of perspective,” says Lockett. “A student who has learned a lot about computer science in three or four years of college might demonstrate the potential employers are looking for, even if that candidate has less specialized experience than someone who grew up in a tech bubble.” Lockett tells Black students they have a chance to be agents of change. “I stress that they have a unique opportunity to do something groundbreaking—help the industry and Oracle gain from different perspectives.” Since coming to Oracle, Doku has joined the Alliance of Black Leaders for Excellence (ABLE) , an employee resource group with a chapter in Colorado, where he plans to move this year. His chapter connected him to a mentor, with whom he has weekly meetings that he finds “extremely helpful.” Hawthorne, who is president of the Austin ABLE chapter, says the group fosters a sense of community. “It’s good to connect with people who look like you,” she says. “They’ll give you smart advice, like the value of networking and having career conversations with hiring managers. And it’s cool to see ABLE members advance in their careers. It inspires a sense of teamwork.” Notes Lockett, “The company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is real. I see it at all levels. People aren’t just talking about change; they’re doing the hard work it requires. I think the new generation of Black technologists can be part of something big.”

North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University produces more Black engineers than any other college except Georgia Tech. And that’s no small feat: with a student population of less than...

Higher Education

Swing Wide the Campus Gates: Reimagine Financial Aid with Oracle Student Financial Planning

The last twelve months have imparted many hard-earned lessons for those of us in the higher education industry about the need to improve current institutional processes. There’s no better place to begin than with financial aid, as it is the enabler for most US students to get their foot in the door to an education. Oracle’s 2021 mantra, “swing wide the campus gates,” represents this foundational principle: we must reimagine our financial aid practices and tools to provide a better, more optimal aid experience for our students. This goal is why institutions like Spring Arbor University and Florida A&M University are implementing Oracle Student Financial Planning (part of Oracle Student Cloud, but is also available as a standalone solution). SFP is our contactless, automated financial aid solution that allows financial aid administrators to fulfill their number one goal: to move away from manual tasks like verification and document matching to build more personalized, impactful relationships with students and their families. Students further benefit from SFP’s ability to optimize different funding sources to reduce loan debt, and its insight into the financial repercussion of their borrowing decisions. In short, SFP equips students with the funds – and just as important, the agency – they need to make the best choices for their educational journey and future. SFP customers like SAU, FAMU, and the American University of Antigua College of Medicine all see SFP as a means to transform the student experience, with its modern, consumer-friendly interface and its ability to provide insight into the long-term impact of borrowing decisions. As Randall Melton, SAU’s CIO says, “if financial aid is the key gateway to college, that door should swing freely, and the hinges better not squeak.” Read more about why FAMU and SAU adopted Oracle Student Financial Planning and how it will help their institutions improve student outcomes in this February 2021 article from Inside Higher Ed and about how AUA is automating 90% of their financial aid processes with SFP in this January 2021 Oracle Connect article. In addition, you won’t want to miss Oracle’s webinar on February 25, 2021 at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST with Dr. William Hudson, FAMU’s VP of Student Affairs, who will share more about how SFP will support his institution’s mission of affordability, access, and excellence. You’ll also learn about our vision for SFP from Nicole Engelbert, VP of Oracle Higher Education Development, and see a demo of its latest capabilities. Please register here and help build the future of financial aid with us.

The last twelve months have imparted many hard-earned lessons for those of us in the higher education industry about the need to improve current institutional processes. There’s no better place to...

Education and Research

3 ways to benefit from the European public procurement framework for cloud services

The outbreak of an unprecedented modern day pandemic posed extraordinary challenges to all industry segments, especially the higher education and academic research sector. Educators needed to rapidly adapt to remote teaching and learning environments while researchers were urged to develop new vaccine candidates with the help of public cloud services. 2020 was also the year when the OCRE (Open Clouds for Research Environments) project consortium launched a European-level public procurement tender for a cloud services framework – funded by the European Commission. This framework will ease access to commercial cloud services for universities and public research institutions – about 10,000 entities in 40 countries across Europe. Oracle responded to the tender via its extensive network and on January 20, 2021 OCRE announced the availability of the frameworks in all participating countries. We could not expect a better start to the new year for our higher education and research customers! Oracle – along with other major cloud providers – will be listed in the OCRE Cloud Catalogue including Oracle's entire technology cloud portfolio i.e., all IaaS/PaaS services that can be purchased for Universal Cloud Credits in OCI (Oracle Cloud Infrastructure). Selected partners will deliver these services to the market in each and every county by adding consultation, implementation, training and other added-value services. Public sector customers don’t need to run their own time-consuming and costly public procurements. In the next 4 years, they can just refer to the framework and simply call-off contracts with the partners for the selected cloud providers and their services. How can public higher education and research institutions benefit from the OCRE framework in Europe? 1. The European-level public procurement tender process provides the legal basis for all participating institutions as it is fully compliant with the national public procurement laws and regulations. Purchasing entities don’t need to run their own public procurements that typically last 60 working days and cost about 30,000 EUR on average per institution. We expect a significant reduction of expenses for institutions to buy cloud services. 2. National associations of university networks (aka. NRENs) can act on-behalf-of their institutions, aggregate demand at the national level, and bulk-purchase cloud credits to be distributed to end-users. Similarly, project consortia of universities and research labs can jointly purchase cloud services and share use of them among the participating entities. This allows further cost reductions through potential volume discounts for customers. 3. Technical and legal compliances are all guaranteed in the provided terms and conditions. Oracle offers direct public IP peering as well as private FastConnect network connectivity to the GÉANT academic backbone network. We also fully comply with the Single-Sign-On (SSO) national access federations, data privacy, GDPR and other legal requirements that are essential for building the trust. These technical and legal elements also have lower TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) implications for the institutions. Fig. 1. Benefits of the European public procurement framework  Beyond these expected benefits, the broader industry engagement also facilitated by the framework will allow Oracle to further explore and expand the potential outcomes as a result of a longer term industry partnership between Oracle, GÉANT, NRENs, partners and institutions. For more industry insight, visit the higher education and research page of Oracle.

The outbreak of an unprecedented modern day pandemic posed extraordinary challenges to all industry segments, especially the higher education and academic research sector. Educators needed to rapidly...

Hogeschool van Amsterdam improves the student experience with Oracle Digital Assistant

Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA – also known as the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) was established in 1993 to support the Netherlands’ growing demand for professional training and practical education. HvA is now one of the largest institutions in the Netherlands, supporting approximately 50K students with 4K faculty and staff. While HvA has a focus on professional education, it collaborates closely with a number of more traditional Dutch schools. It has a shared services relationship with the University of Amsterdam, a traditional, research-based institution with 30K students, where four different groups – Administrative Services (focused on administrative systems and student services); IT (ICT infrastructure and maintenance); Facilities Services; and Library Services – support both institutions. The Administrative Services team manages Campus Solutions 9.2 for both UvA and HvA, though they are on separate instances because of their institutions’ governance structures. In addition, HvA and UvA are active in the Dutch Education User Group, a subset of HEUG for Dutch-speaking institutions, and the SaNS (Samenwerking Nieuw Studenteninformatiesysteem) consortium (with Leiden University). These schools are in regular communication to share best practices around using Campus Solutions; for example, the SaNS group is working to develop a module in Campus Solutions to manage its international students, a growing population for three schools.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HvA has been fully remote since mid-March, and one of its primary means of student support, an in-person help desk, was no longer available. Queries and communications had moved to email, phone calls, and WhatsApp, leading to heavy traffic and backlogs in those channels. “Without that in-person channel [help desk] for fall registration, we knew we needed to come up with a useful way to help our students and staff.” “Our goal as the Administrative Services team is to surprise the students with better delivery and services. Implementing Robin” – HvA’s chatbot built on Oracle Digital Assistant – “was our solution.” – Jasper Faber, Administrative Services Information Manager, UvA/HvA Faber adds that HvA sees Robin as so integral to institutional operations that they do not internally refer to it as a chatbot but as their “virtual colleague.” With a goal for the go-live to take place before the expected peak of student communications in mid-August (before the start of the fall semester in September), HvA had an extremely short runway. Thankfully, “urgency and enthusiasm allowed us to complete this project very quickly,” Faber says. HvA was able to advance from signing its contracts with Oracle and implementation partner, CY2, to having a live chatbot in just six weeks. This project was HvA’s first experience using an Oracle Cloud Platform product, but Faber says “the main surprise was how easy it was to execute.” Faber credits HvA’s success from their replication of another DEUG university’s best practices (InHolland University of Applied Sciences had undertaken a similar chatbot project with CY2 and ODA earlier in the spring of 2020) and from external and internal cooperation: “We knew we would have full support from Oracle and CY2, and we had our best [HvA staff] on it.” HvA created a large but cohesive team, with 15 representatives from different departments including UX, communications, IT, and student services. Faber says “we wanted to make sure we had coordination and consensus among the different parties, especially because we were working remotely but very quickly, following an agile framework with two-week sprints. We also saw that we were going to build something that would make students happy, and that gave our team extra enthusiasm to work together.” While the team originally identified a variety of topics that the students were asking questions about, they ultimately narrowed the chatbot’s focus to tuition and fees-related queries. “We wanted to start simply,” Faber says, “and students were asking most frequently about tuition fees and due dates. We also knew that we could link the chatbot back to a website page that would give the students more details about the answers they needed.” Robin’s design experience was top of mind for the institution. “We really wanted the chatbot to really represent all of our students with three different interfaces,” Faber says. “We picked the name Robin for our chatbot because it can be both a male or female name, and a Dutch or non-Dutch person.” The communications and the student administration departments worked together to build a variety of different questions in English and Dutch that students might ask. “There are at least 15 different versions of each question,” Faber says. “Plus, students can be really casual, so Robin understands lots of different slang terms for money, like doekoe, and it can respond accurately to them.”                   After a small pilot with ten students to test for what Faber calls “minimal viability,” Robin went live in mid-July. The team added a feedback button to the chat window to receive additional tips about how to improve Robin’s responses over time. As thousands of students began registering for the fall semester, Robin successfully has helped lower the workload of employees by responding to students’ questions and, if  necessary, directing them to relevant web pages for additional information. HvA is now considering other ways that using chatbots as virtual employees  can provide additional value to the institution. “We’re exploring integrating it with Campus Solutions so it can give users personalized answers to specific questions [about their grades, bills, etc.],” Faber says. “We’re also thinking about other use cases for student services, such as for admissions. The HR Office is also very interested in using a chatbot as well.” The chatbot even aligns with the institution’s overall mission for professional education; a lecturer who specializes in digital conversational interfacing is developing coursework for his students to design and building a chatbot. “We see a lot of promise for Robin and chatbots,” Faber says, “This is just the first step.” HvA and InHolland are just two of Oracle’s higher education customers using chatbots to improve the student experience. Other examples include the University of Adelaide, who uses their chatbot to determine international eligibility for international students and Loyola Chicago’s LUie (which is integrated with Campus Solutions) received a PeopleSoft Innovation Award for its ability to answer FAQs and COVID-19 related queries.  

Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA – also known as the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences) was established in 1993 to support the Netherlands’ growing demand for professional training and practical...

Higher Education

Ensuring Higher Ed Affordability with Florida A&M, Lorain County CC & Butler University

In the last of our three-part series exploring how technology serves as the foundation for resiliency in higher education, we brought together leaders from three higher education institutions and one implementation partner to discuss the financial aid office of the future. Nicole Engelbert, Oracle Higher Ed Development’s Vice President of Product Management, served as the moderator of this panel of financial aid and student services experts: William E. Hudson Jr., Ph.D, Vice President Student Affairs, Florida A&M University; Carrie Short, Director, Financial Services, Lorain County Community College; Melissa Smurdon, Director of Financial Aid, Butler; and Steve Hahn, Senior Director, Huron Consulting Group. Each panelist’s institution represents a different demographic – Butler is a private liberal arts university, FAMU is an HBCU, and Lorain County Community College supports non-traditional learners in a rural region of Ohio – but they share the common mission of increasing accessibility and affordability for its students.  All three schools are Student Financial Planning adopters: Butler is fully live and disbursed its first round of student aid on SFP in the fall of 2020, while FAMU is preparing to go live in the near future, and Lorain County Community College following suit in the spring of 2021. Their conversation reflected not only the current reality of their institutions’ financial aid processes and procedures, but addressed their ambitions and aspirations as well: What does the structure of a more resilient, agile financial aid office entail? How must financial aid be transformed in order to serve a generation disrupted by pandemic and recession? How can institutions address the challenge of moving from manual to largely automated financial aid processes? And what can schools, vendors, and policymakers do to make financial aid more equitable? Digital transformation has been an important element of each school’s pivot during COVID, and many of their new digital practices will remain after the pandemic is over. All three schools agreed that shifting to video consultations with students and parents to discuss financial aid or for virtual recruitment has been a gamechanger, especially from an accessibility standpoint. Whereas previous discussions may have only been with parents in an on-campus meeting, “we’ve found that sometimes the video call or Zoom with a family is really helpful,” Melissa Smurdon says. “We can embrace the more thorough conversation for building their financial knowledge, and [help them] make a sound decision about college." With the first year of SFP under their belts, Butler has even more innovative ideas for the future. “I look down the road and hope for things like chatbots where the student can get their questions answered, even if it’s 11:58 PM,” Smurdon says. A digital assistant could answer easy FAQs and “put the information in students’ hands that’s personalized, like, ‘What does it mean to have this [type of] loan?’ It would continue to free up staff and allow them to have more complex conversations with families.” Each institution envisions that SFP will play a critical role in facilitating digital and business transformation at their schools. Improving financial aid processes is perhaps the most foundational way to improve the student experience, by providing a more seamless, effective way to access education. “We engaged Oracle [because] we wanted to improve our business processes and we believe in providing an excellent student experience,” says Dr. Hudson, “and we began with the Financial Aid office because that’s typically where most universities receive the majority of their complaints.” He hopes that the SFP platform, with its ability to automate manual processes such as document verification, will not only improve time to delivery but give staff the opportunity to do more community outreach. “I’m hoping that through [SFP] the university will be able to focus a lot more on service excellence and communication students, parents and  our community stakeholders on how to help students reach their full potential.” - William E. Hudson Jr., Ph.D, Vice President Student Affairs, Florida A&M University   Over the past nine months, each school has heroically launched progressive and creative ways to provide services and financial support for students during a difficult time. Carrie Short from LCCC stresses the importance of thinking more expansively when considering affordability in higher education. “With the question of affordability, everyone automatically [thinks of] tuition and fees,” she points out. “but there are many underlying and indirect costs of education” – childcare, access to reliable internet, etc. – that must also be taken into account. LCCC has established an Advocacy and Resource Center on campus to provide students with access to food, legal aid, and other forms of emergency loans and resources of which they might not otherwise be aware. Steve Hahn from Huron adds that the pandemic “is not something to be recovered from, but a challenge [to] continue…to adapt our systems and continue to be flexible with our people in the future [and] to continue the initiatives, continue the creativity and the innovation, because we’re going to need it well into the future after the pandemic has passed.”  For more insights from these leaders – how their schools are making the most of their CARES Act funding to support students, their hopes for federal policy and FAFSA reform, and how their staff and faculty have successfully pivoted to remote operations to meet students’ needs – click here to access the recording. Check out our other resources – including 2020 Surveys with CBOs and Provosts – on our Higher Ed content hub, including our ebook with Huron, Leveling the Playing Field, for more recommendations on how to improve access and affordability in higher education. While our resiliency series has concluded, our commitment to address the challenges of higher ed (and financial aid) is ongoing. Keep watching this space to hear more exciting news about Oracle’s plans to bring together financial aid professionals to continue collaborating, sharing ideas and solutions about how to build this financial aid office of the future. 

In the last of our three-part series exploring how technology serves as the foundation for resiliency in higher education, we brought together leaders from three higher education institutions and one...

How Oracle Student Cloud’s Multi-Entity Framework Will Enable New Organizational Models

You’ve heard us say that Student Cloud is a radically different kind of student system: one with the flexibility, agility, and innovation to support today’s institutions and students amidst unprecedented levels of industry disruption and changing educational paradigms. A core differentiator of Student Cloud is an architectural capability that we’re calling our multi-entity framework. Our engineering team has been hard at work on designing these capabilities, and we’re excited to begin unveiling it to the HEUG and our customers. Oracle’s multi-entity framework will empower dynamic collaboration and sharing within and beyond a variety of organizational structures, including complex institutions with professional schools, institutional systems, consortia, and more. We’re really excited about the possibilities that multi-entity will open up for our customers: e.g., managing legal and academic independence or sharing across your organizational models (rather than just at the institution level) will give you the ability to configure your own setups and evolve them over time, based on your own mission and the needs of your students. We think this multi-entity framework will help institutions support student learning journeys, evolve academic programs, manage student transfers, streamline IT shops, and other complex issues in higher ed. To hear more about Oracle’s vision for Student Management’s multi-entity capabilities, join Higher Ed Development’s Joyce Kim, Product Manager, and Steve Brawn, Principal Product Strategy Manager, on December 1, 2020 at 1 PM EST. We're looking forward to see you then!

You’ve heard us say that Student Cloud is a radically different kind of student system: one with the flexibility, agility, and innovation to support today’s institutions and students amidst...

Higher Education

The Universidad del Istmo de Guatemala (UNIS) upgrades to Oracle Cloud for its institutional transformation

The Universidad del Istmo de Guatemala (UNIS) might be the smallest post-secondary institution in Guatemala, but it has big goals for its future. As its name suggests, it sees its mission to serve as to serve as a bridge or “isthmus,” combining academic research and development with the spirit of religious and community-oriented service. And its institutional leadership sees their recent, end-to-end Oracle Cloud implementation (Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning, Human Capital Management, Customer Experience, and PeopleSoft Campus Solutions on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure) as a crucial element of achieving their ambitions.  UNIS began as the Instituto Femenino de Estudios Superiores, founded in 1964 as a women’s college, with support from the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. After receiving independent accreditation status from the Consejo de la Enseñanza Privado Superior (the Council of Higher Private Education) in 1997, IFES reestablished itself as UNIS, opening in 1998. UNIS is now a private, co-ed Catholic institution that supports around 2,000 students across a variety of academic programs, including business, architecture, law, and engineering. The school is preparing for large scale growth – with a goal of 10,000 students by 2035 – and has constructed a new central campus in Santa Isabel, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Guatemala City, to support this anticipated student population. To support this dramatic scaling of its population, its technology systems needed a similar overhaul. “It’s not only the physical construction of our buildings that is important, but the technology enhancements we’re making to our applications,” says UNIS’s CIO, Roberto Enrique Canek Pinelo. The university had been using homegrown systems for its student system, HR, and other primary applications, which made it difficult to verify the accuracy of data or share data across departments, leading to many inefficiencies. “It was difficult to streamline things,” Canek says. “Many processes were conducted in spreadsheets or were manual, particularly in our HR system.” The university knew that modernizing their systems and business processes was an imperative.  After undertaking a strategic evaluation of its applications, UNIS’ leadership eliminated the possibility of staying on their existing homegrown solutions. As they defined their requirements for a robust, well-integrated set of applications that offered automation, they decided to move to a platform of cloud applications supported by one vendor. While they considered five leading vendors, UNIS’ leadership selected Oracle as they felt that the other vendors’ systems did not fully address the needs of a higher education institution.  To prepare for its implementation of Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP, CX, and HCM, UNIS consulted with other peer institutions and their accreditation agency to ensure their strategy was well-aligned with industry-wide best practices for cloud implementations. The institution’s implementation team created a comprehensive plan that encompassed both technical and business operations, listing existing processes, their future desired processes, and a list of their customizations.  To help them meet these project metrics in their desired timeline, UNIS partnered with Quantum (Grupo Quanam), an system integrator firm specializing in Central and South American implementations across a variety of industries.  Canek explains that UNIS and Quanam wanted to begin with a drastic change, implementing the systems that affected the most people, and particularly the students; Oracle Fusion Cloud CX, along with Campus Solutions, platformed on OCI in March 2019. They continued by implementing Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM in January 2020, and they are currently finalizing their ERP implementation. Change management was occurring simultaneously to ensure that everyone, regardless of department or role, was on the same page. UNIS’ leadership created a now-permanent Department of Systems and Processes to centralize the implementation efforts; this group helped socialize cross-institutional communications, and managed team members who were responsible for training other staff members in their individual business departments.  UNIS Oracle Cloud implementation has been incredibly important to institutional continuity during the pandemic. Manuel Angel Perez Lara, UNIS Rector Ingeniero, said that the university would have had to shut down in March had it not been for its Oracle systems, as the previous systems would have required too many in-person workers to carry out manual processes for handling payroll or even registering students. Thankfully, now that all systems can be managed remotely, “the term has been business as usual,” Canek says, with their staff using Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM to manage staff payroll and PeopleSoft Campus Solutions to register and process class enrollments, etc. And while the university plans for staff and students to remain remote through the end of the calendar year, it is confident that it will be able to finalize its Oracle Fusion Cloud ERP implementation on schedule and maintain business continuity, thanks to the robust automation capabilities and data-driven insights provided by Oracle Cloud applications.  For other schools poised to undergo their own cloud journey, Canek recommends that they obtain executive buy-in, saying that the advocacy of UNIS’s full breadth of leadership – from their academic to financial units – was necessary to obtaining support. He also urges institutions to communicate constantly with their students and staff before and after go-live; for example, the Process Unit is creating professional development courses for the staff to keep up to date with institutional changes. Canek says that while at times staff members found the changes to their business processes difficult, emphasizing wins has increased support for the cloud initiative. For example, staff members can now compile their own reports using Oracle self-service (versus having to delegate report creation to specialized staff), increasing efficiency and the level of data insight.  He concludes,  “Most of all, we want to be known as a school that is bold and pursues transformation. It’s why we went all in with Oracle Cloud.”  – Roberto Canek Pinelo, CIO, Universidad del Istmo de Guatemala  

The Universidad del Istmo de Guatemala (UNIS) might be the smallest post-secondary institution in Guatemala, but it has big goals for its future. As its name suggests, it sees its mission to serve as...

Higher Education

How Northern Illinois University moved to Oracle Cloud during COVID-19

Many universities have successfully moved on-premise workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. But what’s it’s like for a large institution to move their critical PeopleSoft application to the cloud, during the COVID-19 pandemic? Two Northern Illinois University (NIU) IT professionals told their story in a webinar that described their successful migration strategy, despite the shuttered campus. Although migrating enterprise applications to a cloud platform can be demanding, the implementation was successfully completed with minimal disruption, thanks to the partnership between the university and Oracle Consulting Services. Located in Dekalb, IL, NIU is a medium-sized public institution with 17,000 students, 2,100 staff, and 1,200 faculty members. NIU is also a full-suite PeopleSoft customer (Campus Solutions 9.2, HCM 9.2., Financials and Supply Chain Management 9.2, and PeopleTools 8.57), but their need to replace their Exadata servers motivated the institution to begin modernizing in 2018. NIU considered and eliminated a variety of options: refreshing with on-premises hardware or exercising the Oracle’s Cloud@Customer option would still require the institution to rely on aging local infrastructure, while a do it yourself VMWare RAC deployment option was eliminated because of the need for highly-skilled employees to build and support the project. In the end, Oracle Cloud was “the solution that offered the best of all worlds,” said Ruperto Herrera, NIU’s Manager of Database Administration and Architecture. “Choosing Oracle as our cloud vendor and partner made a lot of sense.” Their decision to move to OCI was motivated by a variety of other factors: Reducing costs: eliminating the need to replace costly hardware every few years. “By choosing Oracle Cloud, we were able to save 13% on infrastructure-related costs over a three-year period,” Herrera says. “we’re very happy [with] that number.” Improving reliability and scalability:  NIU was looking for improved performance, availability, and protection from DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attacks. “Being able to scale up during times of peak load, such as during student registration periods or finals was a priority for us,” Herrera says. “Bare metal gives us the flexibility to scale up [and down] in a very seamless manner, which we’ve already done a number of times without any issues.” Streamlining IT operations: by moving core administrative systems into the cloud, NIU has freed up a large amount of on-premises resources. Herrera adds that OCI’s cloud automation tools allows NIU’s IT team to simplify processes like maintenance and patching. NIU partnered with Oracle Consulting Services (OCS) for the implementation, lasted from October 2019 through May 2020. The speed and success of the implementation can be credited to the careful planning and design work undertaken by NIU and OCS, from requirement gathering to building out the architecture (and redesigning, as needed). Herrera credits OCS for putting together realistic design blueprints and cost estimates for running their workloads in the cloud; “we’re still well within those limits today,” he says. In addition, following Oracle Consulting’s lead and expertise in cloud migrations was key. “early on we were too concerned with trying to recreate the architecture we had on-premise, and it took us a little while to let go of that and trust our partner,” Herrera says, “[but] adopting best practices [will put us] a better position to manage our environment in the long run.” To hear more about the lessons NIU learned during the implementation, their cloud/SaaS plans for the future, and how the university managed the shift to remote operations, click here to access the recording. And to learn more about how higher education is changing, Access the eBook “New Realities for Higher Education” Register for “Igniting Research with Oracle High Performance Computing”

Many universities have successfully moved on-premise workloads to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. But what’s it’s like for a large institution to move their critical PeopleSoft application to the cloud,...

Ithaca College Refines Higher Education Best Practices with Oracle Cloud Applications

Like most industries, higher education is under tremendous pressure to provide a modern consumer-like experience to students, faculty and staff in the new remote-work reality. Ithaca College, a residential liberal arts college in New York, has stepped up to the challenge. With five schools and more than 100 degree programs, Ithaca College’s mission is to educate, engage, and empower through theory, practice and performance. This goal has gained renewed importance in light of our current circumstances – and it all starts with information and access. Ithaca College knew it needed to offer students, faculty and staff modern and intuitive applications. The college turned to Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications. With Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM), Ithaca will be able to improve productivity and business insights by transforming administrative operations and employee experience, and gaining real-time access to data from across its operations. When describing his organization’s decision to adopt Oracle Cloud Applications, Ithaca CFO Bill Guerrero said “the value of cloud is not the technology but the transformation of the institutional business processes. More efficient processes help institutions bring down the costs of higher education, and the cloud is really key in enabling this for us.” After assessing its existing solutions and researching new options, Ithaca College recognized that Oracle Cloud – with its integrated suite of applications, and embedded machine learning, analytics and reporting capabilities – was the right fit to help the organization modernize. “Oracle’s position as a leader in the market gave us the confidence that we could enhance our cloud approach to drive efficiencies in our processes to drive down costs, and ultimately pass those cost-saving measures down to students,” added Guerrero. With Oracle Cloud ERP and Oracle Cloud HCM, Ithaca College will be able to break down organizational silos, standardize processes and manage financial, planning and workforce data on a single integrated cloud platform. Oracle Cloud Applications’ common and intuitive interface helps enable rapid user adoption, delivers enhanced remote employee experience and improves productivity. “We’re continually impressed by the innovative spirit we are seeing in higher education,” noted Vivian Wong, Group Vice President, Higher Education Development, Higher Education Cloud, Oracle. “Like Ithaca College, universities across the globe are implementing rapid change and reinforcing their commitment to the experience of students and faculty. Oracle is proud to contribute to the next chapter of higher education as schools overcome the current challenges and prepare for whatever comes next.”

Like most industries, higher education is under tremendous pressure to provide a modern consumer-like experience to students, faculty and staff in the new remote-work reality. Ithaca College, a...

Higher Education

Spring Arbor University Supports Institutional Mission with Oracle Cloud

Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications will help the university improve student outcomes, while saving money and improving productivity REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. – Oct. 1 , 2020 - Spring Arbor University, one of the Midwest’s leading universities, has selected Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications to deliver a modern, efficient and personalized student and staff experience. With Oracle Cloud Applications for finance, supply chain and customer experience, Spring Arbor will be empowered to improve students’ academic experience, increase efficiency and help reduce costs in service of its mission: fostering a spiritual, intellectual, whole-person transformation for students, staff and faculty. “Spring Arbor selected Oracle for their commitment to higher education and their position as technology leader,” said Randall Melton, Chief Information Officer, Spring Arbor University. “SAU’s transition to Oracle Cloud will lower our total cost of ownership for enterprise solutions and will enable us to implement a complete digital transformation strategy leveraging Cloud-based services.” Since its origination in 1873 as a seminary for elementary and secondary students, Spring Arbor has evolved into an accredited university, supporting more than 3,500 students and more than 70 degree programs. To continue its evolution and increase competitiveness among its peer organizations, the Spring Arbor selected: Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Oracle Fusion Cloud Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) to help process financial and operational information with increased accuracy and efficiency Oracle Fusion Cloud Customer Experience (CX) to power a seamless, personalized user experience and better engage students, staff and faculty with fast and flexible communications across channels; specifically Oracle Eloqua to provide marketing automation for managing dynamic campaigns and tracking  student recruitment lifecycle activities. Student Financial Planning (SFP) to support students with intuitive financial planning tools from recruitment to graduation Student Management Cloud (SMC) to deliver a student-first design that will enable it to develop innovative, diverse academic offerings rooted in data and insights By moving to Oracle Cloud, Spring Arbor will be able to eliminate infrastructure capital cost, reduce IT support spending, and allow the IT team to shift focus from general maintenance activities to other critical university initiatives. Spring Arbor’s selection of Oracle solutions expands the university’s toolkit, supporting their digital transformation journey with more agile applications. “It’s more critical than ever that higher education institutions are not only looking to technology to lower costs and improve the efficiency of their operations, but to provide the agility to quickly adjust to unforeseen situations,” said Pamela Snyder, AVP, Oracle Higher Education. “Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Spring Arbor showed amazing leadership in moving their digital transformation forward in support of their mission, employees and students. We are honored to be a part of their move to the cloud and the flexibility it will afford them as they move into this next era in education.” Learn more about Oracle Higher Education products here.   About Oracle The Oracle Cloud offers a complete suite of integrated applications for Sales, Service, Marketing, Human Resources, Finance, Supply Chain and Manufacturing, plus Highly Automated and Secure Generation 2 Infrastructure featuring the Oracle Autonomous Database. For more information about Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), please visit us at www.oracle.com.   Trademarks Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.   Contact Info Katie Barron Oracle +1 202-904-1138 Katie.barron@oracle.com

Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications will help the university improve student outcomes, while saving money and improving productivity REDWOOD SHORES, Calif. – Oct. 1 , 2020 - Spring Arbor University, one...

Oracle Live: The Time is Now

Instead of our usual fall conference, Open World, we’re hosting Oracle Live: a virtual event series that seeks to bring the inspiration, product highlights, and customer stories directly to you. Last week, we dedicated a day-long event, “Oracle Live: The Time is Now,” to celebrate how Oracle Cloud Applications customers have pivoted forward and embraced continuous innovation, even amidst the chaos and disruption of the past six months. In his keynote kicking off the event, Steve Miranda, Executive Vice President of Oracle Applications Product Development, said that this is the time to make not just small, tactical changes, but to embrace transformation. “What we’ve been going through [with COVID-19] is a bit of a microcosm of what we’ve been talking about for a long time: the speed of change, unexpected challenges to your business, unexpected opportunities in technology. You need to have a system and a partner that can work with you and help you transform, succeed, and thrive.” As Oracle continues on our evolution from a product company to a true service provider, being a trusted partner to our higher ed customers is a strategic priority. Miranda even gave a shout out to the University of Wyoming (who has been an Oracle Cloud customer since 2017) and how they’ve been able to maintain business continuity and outpace change: “Just by having their applications in the cloud and allowing Oracle to manage their systems on their behalf, by taking care of their datacenters and DBA administration, having the updates going quarterly without having to send any of their personnel into the office, they were able to seamlessly transition to a work-from-home method and keep their business running because of our cloud applications.” Click here to watch Miranda’s keynote and be inspired by how customers like New York City’s Mount Sinai Health System and Unilever in supporting health and public safety, or to listen to business advice from executives at Dropbox and Starbucks. For more application-specific sessions on Oracle Cloud ERP, HCM, CX, EPM, and SCM, check out any of our sixteen on-demand sessions to learn more about our development strategy and updates, or to hear how customers like Disney, Office Depot, and McKinsey are using Oracle Cloud to build agile organizations, streamline planning and processes, and provide outstanding customer service. The time is now to build for the future of your institution!

Instead of our usual fall conference, Open World, we’re hosting Oracle Live: a virtual event series that seeks to bring the inspiration, product highlights, and customer stories directly to you. Last...

Higher Education

Innovating in Higher Education When the Budget Drops Out

As higher education institutions enter the fall semester, they are encumbered by a series of financial constraints, exacerbated by the loss of spring and summer revenue, budget cuts, declining enrollments, and heavy expenditures on COVID-related campus safety measures.  Yet despite – or rather, because of – all these issues, funding long-term projects to support institutional sustainability and future growth is more critical than ever. How do schools build the bridge? To explore these issues, Oracle hosted the second virtual panel discussion, “Innovating in Higher Education When the Budget Drops Out,” in our Building Resiliency series in September 2020. Diane Goddard, CFO of the University of Kansas, Randall Melton, CIO of Spring Arbor University, and Dwane Sterling, CTO of Skidmore College, spoke with Oracle’s VP of Product Management, Nicole Engelbert, about how their schools are managing current financial uncertainties and using technology to support future innovation. While the schools they represent – a public Research I institution, a private faith-based school with both a traditional and an online campus, and a liberal arts college – are very different in size and mission, all three leaders stressed that technology will play a fundamental role in their institutional sustainability and innovation. “When it comes to reimagining or strengthening a university, technology is always key to that,” Diane Goddard, CFO, University of Kansas Sterling recommends having a flexible, solution-oriented attitude when it comes to working across departments to build credibility and support for IT initiatives, based off of three tenets of leadership, guidance, and support. “It’s easy for us on the technology side to get wrapped up in [a negative] mentality of saying no and listing limitations,” Sterling says. “People are going to be asking [us] for crazy things we likely cannot do, but let’s challenge ourselves one step further to present to them a number of options of things that we can do.” In doing so, he says that IT can “be the glue that binds [an institution’s] leadership team,” winning support for technology initiatives and helping the overall institution move forward. Spring Arbor University recently signed a full-suite Oracle deal to implement Oracle Cloud ERP, HCM, EPM, CX, and Student Cloud. While some customers might be skittish about currently pursuing an extensive technology implementation project, Melton says that the pandemic has demonstrated the importance of sophisticated technology that can support remote working and automated processes. The school had been on a legacy platform for nearly three decades, and the school suffered from its systems’ deficiencies, alongside business process- and policy-related debt. “Our financial aid packaging for our online students was managed by spreadsheets. You can imagine the pain point of that!” Melton says. “This whole enablement of the Oracle technology stack and services is going to enable us to reframe our business” to pursue efficiencies and automation when necessary, in the hopes of allocating more resources to build relationships with students. And while a cloud adoption implementation is expensive, Spring Arbor’s team projected its costs against a long-term ROI of twenty years, and found that moving to SaaS is a “real easy win” that will result in cost efficiencies. In fact, Spring Arbor is already realizing savings. “The total cost of ownership and ongoing operational costs [of running Oracle Higher Education Cloud] went down…We’re running about 14% lower than what we were paying before.” Randall Melton, CIO, Spring Arbor University Preparing to move away from customizations in an on-premises system is an important element of a cloud transformation project. The University of Kansas moved from PeopleSoft Financials to Oracle ERP Cloud in December 2017, and experienced that pain first hand. Goddard says that with PeopleSoft Financials, “our focus [had been] on making the system as comfortable as possible for the end users, which created…tens of thousands of customizations” in PeopleSoft over time. Moving to ERP Cloud has enabled the university to adhere to standardized businesses practices and ensure that their system is always current. “People think if we’re not doing customizations, we’re less versatile. But that’s not the case. The versatility an institution may get just from the system being up to date is incredible.” Dwane Sterling, CTO, Skidmore College The University of Kansas has reaped the benefits that come with outsourcing the responsibility of systems maintenance to the vendor. “I didn’t want to be known as the university that had the best payables system in the world. Everyone pays bills!” Goddard jokes. “I want [KU] to be known for the kind of innovation we could provide our researchers and our faculty. [Oracle Cloud ERP] allows us to pivot [our] resources to thinking about new and exciting ways to support what the university really needs to be delivering: teaching technology, research technology, and all of those things that really differentiate us from every other university in the world.” To hear more from these leaders about how they measure business efficiencies and support change management, click here to access the recording.  And to learn more about how other institutions are overcoming their own financial and personnel challenges, click here for a series of Oracle-sponsored case studies, articles, and surveys from Inside Higher Ed.  

As higher education institutions enter the fall semester, they are encumbered by a series of financial constraints, exacerbated by the loss of spring and summer revenue, budget cuts, declining...

Higher Education

Butler Helps Students Tackle Debt with Oracle Cloud

Applying for financial aid can be intimidating to say the least. The process may seem even more overwhelming to prospective students in these uncertain times, preventing them from taking the first step. Recognizing this challenge, institutions like Butler University are getting creative.     A private university in Indianapolis, Butler aims to foster a stimulating intellectual community built upon interactive dialogue and inquiry among students, faculty and staff. The university is constantly looking for more innovative ways to guide students throughout their academic careers and understands making sound financial decisions is a big part of that equation.   To address the growing student debt crisis in order to make learning more accessible to everyone, Butler deployed Oracle Student Financial Planning. Part of the Oracle Student Cloud, the solution provides real-time synchronization with government systems and automated processes, enabling financial aid officers and administrators to more effectively and efficiently advise students on their financial aid choices. The high level of automation in Oracle Student Financial Planning means Butler can spend less time managing manual processes and more time working directly with students to help them achieve their goals.   Oracle Student Financial Planning supports both traditional and non-traditional academic models, providing institutions with the flexibility to embrace new programs and adapt to changing times. This includes comprehensive funds management capabilities that allow institutions to be more flexible with how they’re allocating financial resources.    By providing a central souce of data from multiple applications and matching public and private funding sources and criteria in real time to financing requirements, students have the opportunity to take on less debt. To date, Oracle Student Financial Planning has processed $2.9 billion in financial aid and generated 15 million automated aid packages.     “With the unique challenges facing higher education students, faculty and administrators, Oracle strives to provide the solutions higher education institutions need to best advise students on financial aid,” said Keith Rajecki, Vice President, Public Sector, Education & Research, Industry Strategy Group, Oracle. “We are happy to work alongside Butler University as they strive toward more affordable, attainable education for all students.”

Applying for financial aid can be intimidating to say the least. The process may seem even more overwhelming to prospective students in these uncertain times, preventing them from taking the first...

Higher Education

How Institutions are Building Resiliency in Higher Ed’s "New Normal"

People often say that the higher education industry is change-resistant, whether that be in terms of business operations, teaching models, or the adoption of new technologies. But what happens when a sudden, major event like the COVID-19 pandemic necessitates a dramatic alternation? How did schools carry out the large-scale shift to virtual operations – not in the technology and tools they use, but their workforce culture? How are schools managing these changes now, and how are they planning for the fall semester and beyond? We explored these questions in our August 2020 webinar, Building Resiliency in Higher Ed’s New Normal, where Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development, spoke with leaders from three Oracle Cloud schools: Jo Ellen DiNucci, Boise State University’s AVP of Finance and Administration; Cheryl Gochis, CHRO of Baylor University; and Ellen Law, Rutgers University’s AVP of OIT Enterprise Application Services. Surveying the webinar’s attendees, we found that most schools were somewhat equipped to manage a crisis on the scale of COVID-19. 53% felt their institutions were “prepared enough to get there in an orderly way,” while 32% found they experienced some shortcomings, and “learned a lot about where they need to focus in the future.” Only 11% of respondents felt their institutions were “exceptionally well-prepared” to handle the impact of the pandemic. But throughout the webinar, a common thread emerged: the determination of each institution to increase their resilience and agility to meet their staff and students’ needs. A modern cloud platform played a key role in helping these institutions move to virtual operations.  In fact, Baylor was in the middle of their Ignite (their Oracle Cloud HR and ERP) implementation this spring – and succeeded in hitting their targeted go-live date of June 1. Having to migrate their staff to remote working operations proved tricky, as their previous systems lacked easily accessible and accurate data. “The amount of steps it took us just to access normal data that was correct was incredible,” says Cheryl Gochis of Baylor. “When we were working to pull some of those things together, I think it motivated my team [and showed them] we need Ignite more than we’d ever needed Ignite before. They were ready to do whatever it took to get to go-live.” One of the most interesting takeaways was how these schools’ cloud implementations had prepared them for many of the challenges stemming from COVID-19: collaborating across multiple departments, managing large-scale communications, and perhaps most of all, acclimating to the rapid pace of change. “Our campus, after being live [on Oracle Cloud ERP] for four years, is now used to constant quarterly improvements,” Jo Ellen DiNucci of BSU says. “We’ve refocused our culture from upgrading every ten years to quarterly enhancements. [Our university is] not so married to their business processes; they trust that we’re going to [give them] something better than what they have today. It really facilitated adaptation that probably wouldn’t have existed for us four years ago.” Nonetheless, these leaders stressed their transition to virtual operations would not have been nearly as successful without investment in their staff and their cross-departmental relationships. Thanks to the Ignite implementation, Gochis says that “luckily finance, IT, and HR had locked arms for a long time before [the pandemic], and we’d developed relationships where we could give each other very straight feedback and help each other understand the different contexts we were in. and that was a great benefit.” To hear more from these schools about their communications strategies, their plans to support a remote workforce in the future, and how Baylor’s Ignite project included a fun tie-in to NBC’s The Office, click here to access the recording.

People often say that the higher education industry is change-resistant, whether that be in terms of business operations, teaching models, or the adoption of new technologies. But what happens when a...

How CFOs can make Higher Education more Student-Centric and Affordable

In August 2020, the Chronicle of Higher Education held a virtual roundtable discussion with senior finance leaders in higher education. The group represented a diverse array of organizations, including state universities, a community college, a private liberal arts school, and NASPA, an organization devoted to student affairs.  The executives spoke candidly about the financial and reputational costs of the pandemic: the urgency of building and maintaining student and staff trust, approaching campus safety while reopening, and planning for an uncertain financial future amidst budget cuts and decreased state funding.  (To learn more about their insights, read the Chronicle’s Roundtable Report, The Student-Centered College: A Financial Perspective.) Helping institutions manage their financial challenges has been a fundamental priority for Oracle for a number of years. Solutions like Oracle Cloud ERP, Cloud HCM, and Cloud EPM can help higher ed customers get the insights and data they need to improve decision making, boost organizational agility, and forecast the financial impact of their decisions. In recent years, we’ve doubled down on our commitment to our institutions’ students, by developing technology and tools to help students chart a more affordable and accessible future.   Our recent e-book, “Leveling the Playing Field: A Student-Centric Approach to Higher Education’s Affordability Crisis” (in collaboration with Huron Consulting Group), looks at how the industry’s current approach to financial aid must evolve—not just in terms of policies and programs, but also in how schools use technology.  “While once considered merely a back-office function, financial aid has risen to become one of the single most influential factors in whether and where students choose to pursue a postsecondary education,” according to Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development, and Steve Hahn, Huron’s Senior Director. “There is no question that the disruption facing colleges and universities across the country will have a significant impact on future financial aid policies and systems, and those institutions that prepare now will be better positioned to serve new generations of students in the years to come.”  Likewise, the Chronicle’s panel notes that student persistence is one of the most critical issues affecting institutions this fall. Timely and optimal student financial aid is one of the most effective ways institutions can increase retention. Oracle’s Student Financial Planning (SFP) was built with this principle in mind. Oracle SFP helps institutions make it easy and intuitive for students to explore their options for financial aid, so they can enroll (and stick with) their academic journey. It helps students automatically find and apply for funding as quickly (and safely) as possible— reducing the number of face-to-face meetings with advisors and freeing up staff to focus on education.  With Oracle SFP and other cloud applications, Oracle is giving institutions the solutions they need to increase agility, become more student-centric, and navigate disruptions in the higher ed industry. To learn more about Oracle’s partnership with our higher ed customers, be sure to check our three-part series on institutional resilience, including the next webcast, Is it Possible to Foster Innovation When the Bottom Falls out of the Institutional Budget? on September 8th at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST.     

In August 2020, the Chronicle of Higher Education held a virtual roundtable discussion with senior finance leaders in higher education. The group represented a diverse array of...

Duoc UC teaches its database courses using the Oracle Academy Cloud Program for 100% online cloud labs

Using the new free Oracle Academy Cloud Program, teachers and students are accessing the cloud and innovative technologies remotely for free. Since the end of May 2020, the School of Informatics and Telecommunications of the Duoc UC Professional Institute, Chile, which has more than 14,000 students preparing for different careers, began teaching database subjects solely in the cloud. The Cloud Program was implemented for classes that required database laboratories in the careers of Computer Engineering and Computer Programmer Analysis at the School of Computer Science and Telecommunications, since the students did not have physical access to them. The Oracle Academy Cloud Program has enabled teachers and students to access cloud services, anytime, anywhere, and completely free of charge, including Oracle Cloud Free Tier, Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, and virtual machines (VM), and use them as a "remote laboratory” to teach, learn, explore, and build in the cloud. “In the past few months, we have been supporting Duoc UC to create and provision more than 50 teacher accounts so that they can teach their classes virtually and free to their students through the Oracle Academy Cloud Program. Providing access to the cloud and innovative technology such as Oracle Autonomous Database and VM opens a way for teachers and students to continue teaching and developing in computing careers, successfully and on time,” said Richard Delgado, regional director of Oracle Academy for Latin America and the Caribbean. "The work done with Oracle Academy has allowed us to make available to students the environments they need to advance in the subjects of databases. This is one of the measures we have taken to advance learning in the current situation of physical non-attendance,” noted Ximena Sibils, director of the School of Informatics and Telecommunications at Duoc UC. The Duoc UC School of Informatics and Telecommunications plans to expand and deepen the support that Oracle Academy provides, granting each of the students studying computing subjects—in 2020-21, nearly 5,500—an individual account so each has access to the Oracle Cloud Free Tier throughout their course of study. As Oracle’s global, philanthropic educational program, Oracle Academy advances computing education around the world to increase knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields. The program engages with thousands of educational institutions and educators in more than 120 countries, helping millions of students become college and career ready. "Through this program, we provide the tools educators need to engage, inspire, and prepare students to become innovators and leaders of the future,” said Delgado. Duoc UC has been a member of Oracle Academy since 2013, engaging students to experiment and practice with the latest technologies, and supporting them to better prepare themselves to face the job market in the era of big data, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence.

Using the new free Oracle Academy Cloud Program, teachers and students are accessing the cloud and innovative technologies remotely for free. Since the end of May 2020, the School of Informatics and...

Higher Education

Thank you for a wonderful Alliance!

Thank you to our amazing community of customers and partners – what a wonderful Alliance! While it was disappointing to not be able to gather together in Philadelphia as originally planned, it was nonetheless an engaging and informative week of sessions and a wonderful way to celebrate your successes over the past year. I wanted to express my appreciation to the tireless Alliance team and the HEUG board for pulling off this virtual conference – it is truly an honor to be a part of this incredible community. It would be remiss not to mention how deeply the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the higher ed experience for our institutional customers and students. Nonetheless, despite the uncertainty and stress that so many of us have faced over the past few months, I am truly impressed by the resilience and agility that every higher ed institution has displayed. You have pivoted to deliver high-quality educational experiences virtually, dealt with unforeseen budget cuts and financial losses, and adapted to changing local, state, and federal regulations. Most of all, you have done so while keeping in mind the best interests and the safety of prospective and current students and faculty members.  We love that many of our customers at Alliance, including Vanderbilt and Butler, have said that they think of us not just as a solution provider, but as a strategic partner. We’re continuing to work to earn your partnership. In particular, I want to express my appreciation for our loyal Campus Solutions customer base; our products wouldn’t be as complete or value-rich if it weren’t for your feedback, especially from the HEUG Advisory Groups.  We were humbled to be recognized by HEUG’s leadership for the work we’ve done to help schools manage the impact of COVID. Oracle’s number one priority is to keep our customers running, and we’re committed to ensuring that our products stay current with regulatory changes and give you the stability you need to focus on other matters. Our teams worked day and night to help our PeopleSoft and Student Financial Planning customers manage and distribute the federal funding from the CARES Act, so their students could receive their aid as quickly as possible. We’ve also created a PeopleSoft COVID-19 Information Center in MyOracle Support to find the latest information on our product updates, configurations, and best practices related to COVID-19. In addition, Oracle Cloud HCM customers were provided free access to our Workforce Health and Safety module, which allows employees an easy way to manage and communicate about health and safety issues.  The higher ed team’s mantra is to anticipate users’ needs, illuminate the path forward, and empower them with the insights they need to succeed. This has been our touchstone over the last three years on our journey to build the most innovative, cloud-native solution in the industry, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that the first wave of our early adopters is now live on Student Cloud. The University of Wisconsin-Madison went live on Student Management in February for their pre-college continuing ed programs, while Butler is now in Phase 3 of their go-live of Student Financial Planning to package and disburse financial aid, using its out-of-the-box integration with Campus Solutions. Both of these schools are long-time Campus Solutions customers, and it is exciting to see how they’re using both systems to optimize resources and create a more modern, user-friendly experience for their students.   Stories from other institutions – their motivations, challenges, successes, and lessons learned – are just as inspiring. For example, Vanderbilt is seeing incredible results after two years with their fully integrated platform of Oracle HCM, PPM, and ERP solutions. Among a litany of truly impressive stats, they’ve been able to process over 1.75M purchase invoices, 173K purchase orders, 376K requisitions, and 230K payroll payments, and are even using Oracle Learn to provide COVID-19 awareness training for their entire campus.  Another example comes from the University of Tasmania, who has created a digital assistant, Mumford, built using Oracle Digital Assistant, to answer FAQs about fees, enrollments, and other student service-related queries.   I feel reinvigorated by your stories to keep building and delivering the solutions that will help you and your students succeed. Please feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter, and continue to watch this space – we’re excited to keep sharing our journey and vision, and hear more about yours, too.

Thank you to our amazing community of customers and partners – what a wonderful Alliance! While it was disappointing to not be able to gather together in Philadelphia as originally planned, it was...

Higher Education

Solving Higher Education’s Affordability Crisis

Higher education is evolving rapidly, with changes in student demographics, new business models, and a sudden shift to remote learning reshaping the industry. The most vital need in today’s higher education landscape is that of ensuring all academically qualified students have access to postsecondary education, but a steady rise in the total cost of college attendance year over year since 1981 has made this task increasingly difficult.   To fully support student success, cutting these costs, combined with the transformation of the financial aid process and access must be the key components of any institutional strategy. A 2020 report from the National Center for Educational Statistics revealed that 75 percent of Americans believe that college is not affordable for all people. With wages stagnating and state appropriations to higher education diminishing, institutions must look to innovation to solve higher education’s affordability crisis.   Simplifying complex financial aid processes with student-centric technology is the first step for higher education institutions to fundamentally transform financial aid, with an emphasis on meeting the needs of the market and remaining relevant in the years to come. Currently, the process of applying for financial aid is arduous and daunting for most students and their families. For higher education to move to a model of lifelong learning, financial aid must embrace technologies that make processes more seamless for students. In addition, it must also evolve from merely being another administrative department to a strategic institutional focus area.    Successful transformation in any industry requires the use of data to answer key questions related to the health of the business, and higher education has a wealth of important data at its disposal. When used correctly, this data can be turned into powerful insights that inform the institution’s future strategic direction and increase its agility in response to shifting demands, and it can highlight innovative paths to removing financial barriers for students. However, higher education faces a challenge in being able to collect and process its data quickly enough to make use of it before it becomes obsolete.    Another problem that has been plaguing higher education for decades is the disparity between wealthy and economically disadvantaged students. As institutions have become increasingly reliant on tuition for revenue, they tend to court wealthier students and entice them with aid that could otherwise benefit disadvantaged students. Instead, institutions need to build programs to help low-income students manage their finances while at college.     While there is no one-size-fits-all approached to lowering the cost of attendance for students and their families, higher education should invest in tools that will provide a clear picture of success or failure of experimental models and programs. By regularly reviewing available data, institutions can be more agile, thoughtful and critical with financial aid innovations.   Technology can also play a key role in reducing the cost to deliver postsecondary education by refocusing staff on mission-driven priorities. For example, institutions can reduce avoidable overhead where possible by leveraging technology that integrates and streamlines manual processes.   Lastly, institutions focused on building a sustainable future need to establish and develop funding sources that are not dependent on student tuition. From research funding to gifts and endowments, other sources of revenue enable institutions to lower the cost of learning with the same standard of educational excellence.     Financial aid reform will continue to be a topic in the years to come, but institutions must set changes into motion. The ideas outlined above and more are explored further by Nicole Engelbert, vice president of higher education development, Oracle, Steve Hahn, senior director, Huron, and representatives from Butler University, The Pennsylvania State University, and University of Wisconsin-Madison in the whitepaper, "Leveling the Playing Field: A Student-Centric Approach to Higher Education’s Affordability Crisis".

Higher education is evolving rapidly, with changes in student demographics, new business models, and a sudden shift to remote learning reshaping the industry. The most vital need in today’s higher...

Data transfer to Oracle via research networks optimised by CERN openlab

Cover picture (left to right): Alberto Di Meglio (CERN), Peter Szegedi (Oracle), Maria Girone (CERN), Vicenzo Capone (GÉANT) Oracle’s global educational program, which advances computing education around the world to increase knowledge, innovation, skills development, and diversity in technology fields, is today leveraged by universities across Europe and beyond. The Oracle for Research program offers researchers, scientists and university-associated innovators access to Oracle Cloud technology and a global community working to address complex problems and drive meaningful change in the world. Through industry leading technologies and strategic alliances, our objective is to enable research and innovation in the most efficient, secure and trusted manner. Oracle’s recent partnership with GÉANT is doing just this. Oracle joined the GÉANT Cloud Catalogue in October 2019 with a specific Educational Quotation offer. This enables all GÉANT members and their connected Research and Education (R&E) institutions in Europe to purchase cloud services with approved, validated and uniform terms and conditions across the continent. One of the key technical elements of the offer is a direct network interconnect between the GÉANT backbone and the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) data center network, so that traffic doesn't have to pass through the public Internet. Moving data to the cloud The CERN openlab team has worked together with Oracle and GÉANT in order to implement a network solution to transfer large data volumes from Geneva, Switzerland into Oracle Cloud in Frankfurt, Germany via dedicated private connectivity. Oracle and GÉANT jointly established a redundant 2 x 10 Gbps cross-connection in our co-location center, Oracle enabled 10 Gbps FastConnect Private Peering service for the CERN tenancy, and GÉANT put dedicated virtual circuits across their 100 Gbps backbone all the way to the CERN's access router in Geneva. The connection has been put in place to help CERN maintain business continuity for database services, in case of outages. The end-to-end connectivity was demonstrated for the first time at the Supercomputing Conference (SC19) in Denver, Colorado (see the cover picture). The latest network performance test results were presented by Antonio Nappi at the CERN openlab Technical Workshop on 23 January 2020. Towards Bare Metal dedicated compute instances in OCI, the network throughput was stable at 8 Gbps and above. Towards Virtual Machines, 6 Gbps network throughput was achieved with some variability across the test runs. These results met the expectations of the research teams at CERN.   Connected universities and research labs This new collaboration effort will now be a game changer for all institutions connected to GÉANT, either directly or via the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs). From a practical point of view, GÉANT has been listed as a network provider on the OCI Console interface. At the moment, only the selected customers are able to put connectivity requests towards GÉANT that is subject to technical justification and validation of their demand.  The respective technical teams at Oracle and GÉANT are now working towards a network solution for the majority of the higher education customers who may not require dedicated circuits, like CERN and other big science institutions, but could utilize a standard IP Peering option via GÉANT into Oracle Cloud. Also read the GÉANT Community News about this topic.  For more information about the Oracle FastConnect service please visit: https://www.oracle.com/cloud/networking/fastconnect.html

Cover picture (left to right): Alberto Di Meglio (CERN), Peter Szegedi (Oracle), Maria Girone (CERN), Vicenzo Capone (GÉANT) Oracle’s global educational program, which advances computing education...

Higher Education

Modernizing Higher Education’s Business Processes with Oracle Cloud

It hardly needs saying that higher education, alongside all industries, is currently experiencing tremendous challenges. We at Oracle have been truly impressed and humbled by how our schools are working tirelessly to support students and staff to provide a high quality remote educational experience. We are so proud to be a partner to this incredible community.    At last month’s Oracle’s virtual Higher Ed Forum, which can be viewed here, executives representing three of our institutional customers -- Cheryl Gochis, Baylor’s VP and CHRO; Bob McCormick, DePaul’s CIO; and John Sauceda, Moody Bible Institute’s CIO – gathered last month to speak with Nicole Engelbert, Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development, and share the ways in which they have been pursuing business continuity and innovation for their institutions via cloud services. (The Higher Ed Forum was originally scheduled to be held in person at Oracle’s Modern Business Experience conference, which has been rescheduled to be held in conjunction with Oracle OpenWorld in Las Vegas this fall.)     All three schools had been using at least one PeopleSoft or E-Business Suite system for their HR or finance needs, but have begun migrating to Oracle Cloud solutions. Baylor and DePaul are still in the process of implementing HCM and ERP Clouds, with Baylor’s go-live planned for June 2020, while DePaul anticipates their go-live to take place in January 2021. Moody Bible, an Oracle Marketing, Sales, and Service Cloud customer since 2016, has been on ERP Cloud for about a year — following just a four-month implementation!      As these higher education leaders shared their stories, one of their shared recommendations is for institutions to reframe their shift to cloud technology as an opportunity to enact newer, more modern business practices. As Bob McCormick puts it, “if you don’t walk into your cloud journey thinking of it as a business process redesign project, rather than a technology project, it’s not going to be successful.”   These panelists stressed the value of establishing partnerships between line of business and technology leadership in order to get team-wide buy-in and clarity of purpose. The close collaboration between Moody Bible’s CIO and CFO was a major reason the school was able to achieve their ERP go-live in four months. This cross-team partnership has also helped facilitate a smoother transition for changing job responsibilities: Moody Bible is now upskilling former EBS analysts by embedding them as IT analysts for different business units.    Another major lesson learned by these adopters is the importance of a flexible mindset and an appetite for continuous innovation. Keeping up with a quarterly release cadence will require institutions to provide more consistent training, to examine current and future business processes (and selectively test them as needed), and communicate about how these updates will improve staff and student experiences.  In Baylor’s case, Cheryl Gochis says that “establishing better discipline or routines around giving feedback and clarifying outcomes has helped us ensure that our team is moving forward.”    These panelists had many other insights to share in this webinar; click here for more on their approach to data security and privacy, the benefits of moving from a capex to an opex model, and how they’re learning from other early adopters like Vanderbilt University and the University of Wyoming. You’ll also hear from a panel of Oracle executives about how our customers are planning for their cloud journeys, the key factors that contribute to their institutional success, and our Practical Path for cloud migration, as well as a “Day in the Life” demo of how our cloud platform is transforming the administrative and student experience.  This webinar is a look into our higher ed solutions and strategy from both our internal, and more importantly, our customers’ perspective – please reach out in the comments to share your own questions, challenges, and stories!   

It hardly needs saying that higher education, alongside all industries, is currently experiencing tremendous challenges. We at Oracle have been truly impressed and humbled by how our schools are...

Higher Education

Celebrating customer journeys and looking ahead to the virtual Alliance experience

We appreciate the Alliance conference team and HEUG’s leadership for prioritizing the health and safety of all of Alliance’s attendees above all else in their difficult decision to cancel the in-person conference in Philadelphia at the end of March. Although we will miss engaging with all 3,000 institutional customers and partners face-to-face, we are looking forward to the virtual Alliance experience in May. We can’t wait to share our product roadmaps, demos, customer stories, and much, much more with you all then.    The most important and rewarding part of any conference is the opportunity to speak to and learn from our higher ed institutions and partners.  I am humbled by the visionary ways in which our customers are pursuing institutional innovation and improving the student experience.    To provide 24/7 support for students, Loyola University Chicago is piloting its own digital assistant, LUie (built on the Oracle Digital Assistant platform and integrated with Campus Solutions). LUie is helping the school cut down on help desk costs and providing advisors and students with immediate, accurate answers to FAQs from a variety of websites and resources.     Another example comes from the University of Cape Town, which has created a more effective way for their International Programmes Office to manage and process semester study abroad course applications. Their new, mobile-friendly course approval system, which takes advantage of PeopleSoft features like Fluid Work Centers and Fluid Pages, makes it easier for international applicants to apply to and be admitted to UCT’s programs.   And finally, Lone Star College has developed a guided advisement strategy to move students more quickly and efficiently towards graduation, using Campus Solutions’ Program Enrollment module.   In addition, we are so excited how the early adopters and movers of Oracle Cloud applications are leveraging our solutions as a tailwind for their own institutional transformation. Butler University’s “2020 Vision” campaign includes strategic initiatives like growing their undergraduate population, increasing merit aid, and broadening educational access. These ambitious goals are supported by Student Financial Planning (part of the Oracle Student Cloud, which they’ve integrated with Campus Solutions) to improve the financial aid experience for students, parents, and staff.   Similarly, as part of their campaign to be a R1 and Tier One university, Baylor University is adopting Oracle ERP and HCM Clouds to optimize resources and make data a strategic decision maker across the institution.     Moody Bible Institute has been using Oracle CX solutions for recruiting and communications for some time, and is now live on ERP & EPM clouds to reduce business expenses and streamline processes.    Of course, it’s the vision of every Oracle higher education customer that enables us to shape our product direction and strive to be a true partner for our institutions. I am truly inspired by the resiliency and strength of our schools as you adapt to recent challenges and work to support your students and staff in new ways. I want to thank all of you again for your service to our society and being a critical part of the Oracle family. We are looking forward to continuing to share ideas, challenges, and solutions – virtually at Alliance, and other upcoming HEUG events, conferences, and webinars this year.   We hope to continue to virtually connect with others in the higher ed community.  If you’re a HEUG member, be sure to check out Huron’s webinar on the future of financial aid, featuring early adopters of Student Financial Planning Penn State and Butler (and moderated by Oracle’s VP of Higher Education Development Nicole Engelbert) tomorrow, March 18, 2020 at 2 PM EST.  And please register for our upcoming Higher Education Forum on March 26, 2020 from 10-12 PM EST to hear how Baylor, DePaul, and Moody Bible are embarking upon  their cloud journeys as an opportunity for innovation and student centricity.     Most of all, please take care of yourself and your students – the Oracle team and I are wishing you all the very best in this trying time, and are here to support you any way we can. 

We appreciate the Alliance conference team and HEUG’s leadership for prioritizing the health and safety of all of Alliance’s attendees above all else in their difficult decision to cancel the in-person...

Higher Education

Chief Academics Ring the Alarm on the State of Higher Education

The state of higher education continues to be in flux as institutions face tough choices about their future.  Colleges and universities are stretching their resources, trying to reduce rising costs while maintaining the quality of education for students. Many institutions are implementing serious cutbacks to work in this new reality, and it affects how chief academic officers view their role within higher education and the overall state of education.  The 2020 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers (CAOs) offers a worrying snapshot of the challenges facing CAOs and their institutions.  CAOs are being asked to do more with less. They’re concerned about their ability to launch new academic programs and make investments that will keep their organizations aligned to a fast-changing, digitally-driven world. At the same time, they’re trying to minimize the impact of financial cutbacks on students trying to further their education:  They’re becoming more pessimistic about the future of liberal arts education. Half of the CAOs surveyed agree it’s in decline in the U.S., and 60% expect to see the number of liberal arts institutions in the U.S. decline over the next five years.  Nearly three-quarters of CAOs surveyed are alarmed by the trend of colleges shutting down majors or departments, particularly in the humanities. Roughly 37% say their own colleges have shut down departments or majors in the past two years.  More CAOs disagree (43%) than agree (37%) that their institution’s financial situation has improved in the past year. A majority of CAOs also disagree that the 2008 economic downturn is effectively over at their institutions, as they continue to feel its effects. Data helps bolster efforts to overcome challenges In this challenging reality, responses indicate that data is helping higher ed institutions become future-ready. Nearly three-quarters of CAOs (73%) say their institution makes effective use of data to measure student outcomes. Over half (51%) say that their college regularly changes curriculum and programs based on assessment outcomes, and 46% agree that these efforts have led to better teaching and learning at their college.  Institutions that know how to use their data to improve student outcomes are the most likely to survive and thrive in this new reality. Facing these challenges will be next to impossible if institutions choose to hold on to antiquated technology systems to avoid new expenditures, because this outdated technology hinders their ability to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective experience for students.  Using cloud technology to gain ground The reliance on data to improve outcomes is driving institutions to evaluate modern cloud technology, looking at how the cloud’s lower costs can improve the experiences of administrators and students alike. We take a closer look at how your institution can use the cloud to support student success in our webcast, Keep Students on a Path to Success with Oracle Student Cloud. In the webcast, you’ll learn how to:  Keep students engaged to meet student expectations in a personalized way Provide more individualized programs that link academics with job skills Build a curriculum-guided pathway in the form of a student planner Manage lifelong learning and diverse academic programs on one platform Deliver timely and accurate student financial aid Register now to watch the webcast.  

The state of higher education continues to be in flux as institutions face tough choices about their future.  Colleges and universities are stretching their resources, trying to reduce rising costs...

Education and Research

Harper College Brings HR and Finance Teams Together with Oracle

Leading community college selects Oracle Cloud Applications for ERP, EPM, and HCM to increase efficiencies and provide innovative student services Harper College, one of the largest community colleges in Illinois and winner of the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Award for Best Practices in Community College Budgeting, has selected Oracle Cloud Applications to help support its mission to enrich its diverse communities by providing quality, affordable, and accessible education. With Oracle Cloud, Harper College will be able to better serve the needs of its higher education students by taking advantage of a complete and integrated suite of applications to break down silos; quickly and easily embrace the latest innovations; and improve user engagement, collaboration, and performance. Opened in 1967 and named after Dr. William Rainey Harper, a pioneer in the country’s community college movement, Harper College is one of the nation’s premier community colleges. Supporting the learning goals of about 35,000 students annually, Harper College needed to increase the efficiency of its core business processes. Turning to the cloud to meet this objective, Harper College will be implementing Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Cloud, Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) Cloud, and Oracle Human Capital Management (HCM) Cloud. Backed by a referendum affirmed by the community in which it serves, Harper College began to execute on its community driven plan to continue to provide affordable education and to keep its communities and local business competitive in a rapidly changing environment. One priority of the Ensuring a Strong Future plan is to maintain and improve campus infrastructure. The cornerstone of this priority required Harper College to invest in technologies to increase efficiency and support state-of-the-art technologies. “Since its formation, Harper College has been a pioneer in delivering quality, affordable education,” said Patrick Bauer, CIO of Harper College. “Moving business processes to the cloud with Oracle was a natural evolution and will help to reduce costs while providing an easier path to innovation. Managing finance and HR on the same platform will enhance business processes, improve insights, and increase efficiency to help us continually advance our student services.” With Oracle Cloud Applications, Harper College will be able to bring HR and finance teams together, create a single source of truth, automate manual processes, and drive end-to-end business innovation. Oracle ERP Cloud and Oracle EPM Cloud will enable Harper College to accurately and efficiently process financial information, track project statuses, and identify patterns in operational and financial data. In addition, with Oracle HCM Cloud, Harper College will be able to help faculty and staff provide the highest level of service to students by improving the entire workplace experience for employees, candidates, and HR professionals. “To respond to rapidly changing educational needs resulting from a decline in overall student enrollment in the U.S. and a decrease in state funding, institutions need real-time visibility across the entire organization,” said Hari Sankar, group vice president, product management, Oracle. “With Oracle Cloud Applications, Harper College will be able to manage its finance and HR processes on a single platform. This will not only help drive efficiencies and improve decision-making, but also help Harper College deliver the best possible experience for its students and staff.” Oracle ERP Cloud was named the sole Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Midsize Enterprises[1] and a Leader in the “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises[2].” Oracle EPM Cloud was named a Leader in the “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions[3]” (with the highest position for its ability to execute) and “Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions[4].” In addition, Oracle HCM Cloud was recently named a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites for 1,000+ Employee Enterprises [5] for its fourth consecutive year and placed the furthest for Completeness of Vision within the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites for Midmarket and Large Enterprises [6]. Share best practices with finance leaders at Modern Finance Experience at MBX in Chicago, March 23-26, 2020. Come meet and network with your peers and hear Oracle thought leaders share their perspective on the impact that cloud applications will have on higher education in 2030 Higher Education Industry Forum on Thursday, March 26 from 9:00–11:00 a.m. 1 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud ERP for Product-Centric Midsize Enterprises, Mike Guay, John Van Decker, Christian Hestermann, Nigel Montgomery, Duy Nguyen, Denis Torii, Paul Saunders, Paul Schenck, Tim Faith, 31 October 2018 2 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Core Financial Management Suites for Midsize, Large and Global Enterprises, John Van Decker, Robert Anderson, Greg Leiter, 13 May 2019 3 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Planning and Analysis Solutions, Robert Anderson, John Van Decker, Greg Leiter, 8 August 2019 4 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Cloud Financial Close Solutions, Robert Anderson, John Van Decker, Greg Leiter, 21 October 2019 5 Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites for 1,000+ Employee Enterprises, Melanie Lougee, Ranadip Chandra, Jason Cerrato, Chris Pang, Ron Hanscome, Jeff Freyermuth, Sam Grinter, Helen Poitevin, 23 September 2019 6 Magic Quadrant for Cloud HCM Suites for Midmarket and Large Enterprises, Melanie Lougee, Ranadip Chandra, Ron Hanscome, Helen Poitevin, Chris Pang, Jeff Freyermuth, Sam Grinter, John Kostoulas, Jason Cerrato, 15 August 2018 Gartner Disclaimer Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.  

Leading community college selects Oracle Cloud Applications for ERP, EPM, and HCM to increase efficiencies and provide innovative student services Harper College, one of the largest community colleges...

Education and Research

Higher Education Data Explosion: How Autonomous Technology Can Support Institutional Success

We are experiencing an information explosion. Digital is making information available anywhere and the big data influence in higher education sector is very much visible when you look at the National Center for Education Statistics across higher education. More and more students are reaching universities through online pathways. The online content for education is getting richer and growing exponentially every day giving new insights and learning opportunities to the modern student. At the same time more and more institutional business processes are moving online, improving access and availability of the higher education value chain. How do we manage this information and big data so that both students and institutions can make effective evidence based decisions to address the rapidly changing global needs and trends? It is obviously becoming a superhuman effort. The Need  Autonomous technologies have been around for a while now, with robotics in manufacturing, construction and engineering, aviation and  are now progressing to  everyday tasks such as autonomous vehicles with self-driving capabilities. In order to scale to meet the demands of the data volumes associated with big data and associated analytics it is obvious that autonomous technologies have to be adopted for managing, scaling, securing data and stay ahead of the information overload. How we can do this in the higher education sector? What efficiencies and cost benefits can we bring to higher education by adopting autonomous technologies to manage data? Digital Reality  According to data published in 2019 by the National Center for Education Statistics approximately 15.4% students enrolled in US Title IV institutions are enrolled in distance or online courses. Much of the institutions’ business functions including enrollment, engagement, onboarding, financial aid, learning and advancement are moving online. The online experience that is required to meet the expectations of modern students requires deep insights in to the high volume of data that is associated with these functions and business processes. Essentially, institutions are driven to provide a consumer-like experience to the students to capture the attention and interest of the crowded online education market.  Institutions are grappling with this high volume of structured and unstructured data required to provide both the student delight and also to run an efficient and competitive institution. In addition to that, the demand for data to perform qualitative research increases at a rapid rate. Managing, securing, scaling and updating this vast databases and data lakes are now becoming increasingly expensive unless the autonomous technologies are adopted.  Some Help Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud services can be of help here. The complete automation of database and infrastructure operations gives the institutions the much needed headway to have administrative and academic staff to focus on high value activities increasing institutional productivity. Imagine an autonomous database self-optimizing the data required to meet the complex financial eligibility criteria, or reducing risks associated with compromised privacy and security, or scaling to keep up with the performance needed to keep improve student experience during peak enrollment and on-boarding periods. Capacity planning, tuning, scaling or performance tuning – complex real-time machine learning algorithms can do in real time, reducing the need for manual intervention.   Reporting requirements and insights required by institutions are growing by the day. What is needed to provide the volume of information required by the state and federal government agencies, accreditors, student clearinghouse, defense and veterans affairs and other public and private agencies is becoming exponentially time consuming and costly. In this high-volume data environment, timing and speed are key differentiators for any institution. Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse can integrate with reporting, business analytics, data integration and IoT inputs to bring automation to these complex tasks and expedite the process of transforming data into required information. Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing can automate the data management across various institutional business processes bringing unparalleled consistency, accuracy devoid of any human error across volumes of data. It can raise the quality and timing of transaction processing, reporting and insights allowing institutions to accelerate innovation and differentiate to compete in this most competitive market.  Educators have been predicting for a while now that the autonomous learning as the future of the education with students taking control and responsibility to their own learning, programs and credentialing. With micro-credentialing, un-corruptible student record ledgers powered by blockchain and autonomous database technologies to address the explosion data, autonomous data management is becoming an equally important imperative today.     Visit Oracle Higher Education to learn how Oracle can help enable digital transformation in higher education institutions. Learn more about autonomous capabilities for data processing: Big Data - How can we succeed?

We are experiencing an information explosion. Digital is making information available anywhere and the big data influence in higher education sector is very much visible when you look at the National...

Education and Research

Brokering the Cloud - Academic Cloud Brokerage Services

The third part of my blog series leaves the technology enablers such as the network connectivity and the access federation - covered in my previous blog posts - behind and focuses on the centralized business functions and legal vehicles that are needed to engage with and to provision public cloud services to the higher education and research sector more efficiently and effectively. These functions are often called as Cloud Brokerage Services at the national or regional levels. Cloud Brokerage Public sector organisations traditionally purchases goods and services via catalogues made available by government agencies ensuring that public procurement rules and regulations are followed. With the advent of the Internet, digital markets and the plethora of pubic cloud services, the legacy centralized mechanism of producing catalogues, making them available and up-to-date is proven to be difficult. This led to the situation often called “shadow IT” where basic digital infrastructure and services are purchased directly from technology vendors on an individual basis, bypassing the traditional central IT department functions, contracting mechanisms, and important legal check and balances in the process. This creates unnecessary risks for public institutions, such as universities, colleges or academic research labs. Governments all around the world are calling for the modernization of the public purchase mechanisms and encouraging independent trusted players of the market (typically not-for-profits) to step up and offer functions that make the cloud adoption not only technically but also administratively and legally uniform and safe for public institutions, especially for higher education and research at the leading edge. Success Stories in Academia United States of America In 2011, top research universities in the United States got together under the umbrella of Internet2 and established the NET+ program in order to provide secure, agile and reliable cloud standards to university faculty, staff and students nationwide. Through the group negotiated Facilitation Agreement and a rigorous peer-driven evaluation process, research and education institutions and cloud service providers can work together to develop offerings that maximize deployment efficiencies and minimize the business and legal challenges, financial costs, and technology risks of migrating from on-campus to cloud-based solutions. Oracle joined the Internet2 NET+ initiative, which functions as a service catalogue, via the partner Mythics on 18 September 2017. The provisional cloud services available in the catalogue are currently being peer-evaluated by multiple members such as Oregon State University before the full NET+ validation completes. Europe In Europe, GEANT - the European Association of National Research and Education Networks - took the lead on the cloud brokerage activities endorsed by the European Commission in 2014. This initiative expresses GEANT’s commitment to advancing efforts toward a European Digital Single Market and the European Open Science Cloud. National members of GEANT in many European countries have also established brokerages services cascading down cloud offerings to their connected institutions. On 18 October 2019, Oracle officially joined the GEANT Cloud Catalogue with a specific Educational Quotation offer that enables all GEANT members and their connected R&E institutions to purchase cloud services with approved, validated and uniform terms and conditions across the continent.  Going Once, Going Twice, Going Global Other world regions, such as Latin America and Australia, are also actively looking into establishing similar cloud brokerage mechanisms to their academic institutions that creates a concerted effort worldwide and a huge opportunity to provision Oracle's broad range of cloud services globally, in a coordinated manner. The further evolution and harmonization of these digital Cloud Brokerage Services are essential and Oracle is well-positioned to support those conversations with the leading organizations and influence their development. Visit the GEANT Cloud Catalogue in Europe and the Internet2 NET+ program in the USA. Visit the Oracle Education and Research website. 

The third part of my blog series leaves the technology enablers such as the network connectivity and the access federation - covered in my previous blog posts - behind and focuses on the centralized...

Education and Research

HCM Transformation in Higher Education: Taking Advantage Early for Success

In this piece, Joseph Clay, VP HCM Transformation at Oracle, shares insights on how institutions can launch their journey to cloud adoption, future-proof their operations, and how Oracle can support them every step of the way.     Our Commitment to Higher Education Oracle has been a domain leader in technology for more than 40 years supporting higher education for over 30. Today, it continues to innovate with a strategic focus on providing higher education leaders the latest in HCM, ERP and Student technology. Our vision for the future infuses the innovative technologies we are developing with the partnerships we have forged along the way. Our student solutions are helping institutions meet the needs of over 11 million students; the Higher Education User Group (HEUG) may be the world’s largest independent user group with 23K users from over 900 campuses. We have over 1,600 higher education application customers spanning the globe and over 11,000 database and technology customers in over 47 countries. Sounds great, huh? But, what do these experiences and resources mean for campus Presidents and their leadership teams struggling to transform institutions? Today, Oracle is focused on meeting your needs by investing in smarter ways to help you implement, innovate and transform.    Connecting the Dots Oracle is leveraging its experience by investing in resources to help institutions successfully implement and sustain transformative change. These teams include HCM Transformation, seasoned human resource executive talent dedicated to higher education, Oracle Consulting Services (OCS), experts with decades of experience implementing ERP and HCM systems and a newly formed change management team. Oracle also has a network of certified implementation partners (IPs) with proven track records of installing cloud systems on time and within budget. These resources are extremely valuable and can make a difference for any institution. By leveraging these resources, institutions can improve the odds of driving greater innovation and successfully transforming their institutions. Each week, I work with university leaders who want to know the best time to get their teams and other campus stakeholders started on an implementation. They want to be confident that when the system goes live, their investment will meet the needs of their Faculty, staff and ultimately students. I advise them to focus on what we’ll call the “Pre-Phase Zero” window.   Leveraging “Pre-Phase Zero” The Pre-Phase Zero window is the period between when the final decision is made on a cloud solution and implementation partners are engaged to start the project.  This is a perfect time to partner with leaders across the institution to understand what makes the campus special for faculty, staff and students. The most successful teams use this opportunity to assess how well their current support models reflect the core values of their institution. These teams also use this time to take stock of how things work today and challenge their teams to think about the “art of the possible”.  For example: does your talent acquisition strategy provide a great user experience for internal and external candidates? Does the current performance management process feel burdensome or does it encourage on-going feedback on projects, deliverables and goals? These questions help create a safe environment to challenge assumptions and start the transformative process.       Elements of Pre-Phase Zero  With a clear understanding of how you operate now and a perspective on what is possible in the future, your team will be better prepared to collaborate with your implementation provider (IP). One of the first challenges you may face is a request by your implementation partner to share current workflows and standard operating procedures (SOPs) you may not have. Avoid the temptation of dedicating time to creating SOPs and workflows.  Instead, use this time to focus on reviewing or creating business rules and service level agreements (SLGs) for recurring deliverables like performance management, employee transfers, invoice processing, etc. Start identifying and engaging key stakeholders across the institution.  Identify executive champions from both Faculty and Staff who understand the value proposition of the new system and are willing to provide support and direct feedback on key steps. Engage business process owners in recruitment, reporting and other key functional areas to get their perspective on the user experience in the new system. Bring in functional subject matter experts (SMEs) to provide insight on how best to configure workflow. Finally, assign a communication lead(s) to facilitate messaging at all stages of the implementation. As you engage your immediate and extended teams, you will discover other needs to manage during this time. Don’t allow this step to become overly tactical but use this time to set the stage for a successful implementation.   Bringing it together – Speed is not your friend For many leaders in higher education, the implementation of an HCM, ERP or Student Platform is a “once in a career” event. A great deal of attention and resources will be leveraged across the institution to make the effort a success. It is important that you give yourself and your team permission to pause, listen, and where appropriate redirect resources. When you take advantage of Pre-Phase Zero planning, you will position your team to be better informed and empowered to drive your implementation to a successful outcome. At Oracle, we will continue to invest in finding ways to leverage our experiences and resources in higher education to help transform institutions.       Preparing for Tomorrow We want our customers to focus on tomorrow, today because we invest heavily in R&D, including emerging technologies like AI, Chatbot, and IoT so that you don’t have to worry.  We know your primary focus is on running your institution and increasing student success while we handle the infrastructure, platform, and application for HR, Financials and Student. Each year, we inject $6B in R&D (supported by more than 40,000 developers) while our competitor struggles to be profitable which hampers their ability to invest at the same rate on emerging technology and incorporate customer sourced ideas.  To speak to our innovation, we have more than 17,000 patents, enabling us to stay ahead of our competition. Finally, each year 80% of our product enhancements are customer sourced.     In short, we want you to win and will continue investing in smarter ways to help you implement, innovate and transform.    We thank Joseph for the valuable insights shared in this piece. To learn more, visit Oracle Higher Education. Attending Oracle OpenWorld? Find the education and research sessions here.

In this piece, Joseph Clay, VP HCM Transformation at Oracle, shares insights on how institutions can launch their journey to cloud adoption, future-proof their operations, and how Oracle can support...

Education and Research

Federating the Cloud - National Identity Federations

In my previous blog post, I was introducing the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), their pivotal role in the higher education and research ecosystem, and the reason why Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) needs to be interconnected to their academic network exchange points at the various geographies. Other than the direct peering of networks that prevents sensitive research traffic to pass through the public Internet or any third-party provider, another major technical enabler is the integrated Identity Governance and Access Management for the maximum safety and security of cloud users and their data. National Identity Federations In many regions across the globe, the NREN (or a dedicated organization) also takes the role to run the national identity and access federation of the country. An identity federation is a collection of organizations that agree to interoperate under certain rules. These rules are legal frameworks, policies, technical profiles and standards such as the Security Assertion Markup Language 2.0 (SAML2). These provide the necessary trust and security to exchange identity information to access e.g., services in the cloud. Often there are regular federation members (universities and research institutes), which operate services (SP) and provide identities (IdM), and federation partners (commercial companies such as Oracle that offer services to higher education and research), which only operate services (SP) in the federation. On top of the national federations, the eduGAIN interfederation service operated by GÉANT connects identity federations around the world, simplifying access to content, services and resources for the global research and education community. eduGAIN comprises over 60 participant federations connecting more than 5,000 Identity and Service Providers for 27 million users (coverage illustrated on the map below with dark colors). Oracle Identity Solutions Oracle has been consistently placed in Gartner’s Leaders quadrant of technology companies offering Identity Governance (IG) and Access Management (IAM) solutions worldwide. Oracle's complete, integrated, next-generation identity management platform provides breakthrough scalability and enables institutions to reduce operational costs. Researchers gain the flexibility to secure sensitive applications and data - regardless of their on-premises, cloud or hybrid deployment model. A technical deep dive into multi-tenant identity provisioning and Federated Single-Sign-On (FedSSO) in a hybrid deployment is given in this article. While undertaking digital transformation projects, institutions must consider Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) deployments instead of the traditional on-premises deployment model. Gartner estimates that by 2020, 40% of IAM purchases will be for IDaaS, designed to replace or supplement on-premises deployments. Although Oracle’s on-premises Oracle Identity Governance (OIG) appliance is still demanded, there are more and more customer requests for hosting identity management solutions in the cloud. Oracle’s Identity Cloud Service (IDCS) fully addresses these needs. Today, almost one third of Oracle’s IDCS production deployments are in the public sector, higher education and healthcare. Let’s Federate By implementing Oracle's Identity and Access Management solutions in conjunction with existing investments and emerging technologies in the cloud, we believe higher education and research customers have the opportunity improve their security posture and enable better collaboration and greater innovation globally. For Oracle, it’s going to be a game changer to become a partner of eduGAIN at the global scale. Joining eduGAIN practically means joining an eduGAIN member federation of a country. Which one to join? There is no strict rule, but one reasonable option is to contact the national federation of the country where Oracle is based (i.e. the InCommon Federation of the USA) or where the services are geographically operated. Discussions are on-going with Internet2 in the USA, GÉANT in Europe and other geographies in this respect. To learn more about how Oracle is enabling research at scale, visit us here.

In my previous blog post, I was introducing the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs), their pivotal role in the higher education and research ecosystem, and the reason why Oracle Cloud...

When and how to adopt new technology (part 3)

You made it! Welcome to the third and final blog in this series - to help you decide how and when to embrace new technologies. If you missed the earlier blogs or need a refresher, you might like to read part 1 and part 2. Plotting a path To begin the process of plotting a strategic path to adopting innovation, consider these questions: What is the priority focus area for your institution, to keep-up or get-ahead? What should your business processes look like in the future? – Not now! What can be delivered with your existing ecosystem? What technologies would take you to the next level? – Not the latest shiny object. When and how will you provision these technologies?     Selecting the right solutions is not easy; there are many options from many different providers. However please, please, rethink your procurement process - it’s ineffective having a procurement process that lasts two years, or is so focused on functions that you lose sight of the importance of flexibility, user experience and process efficiency. Focus on cloud solutions - pretty much all of the modern solutions are native cloud solutions. They offer the user experience, agility and future-proofing that is required. New technology or new application? Choose the right strategy for your needs, in each case. Where you need to holistically extend your existing IT ecosystem with innovative capabilities – be sure to select agnostic, platform-as-a-service solutions. However, where you need a new core application (Finance, HR, Student, etc.) select one with innovative technologies already built-in and fully embraced. The constant and deep disruption within the industry today and in the future, requires new type of applications, to be able to cope and succeed. But what are the features of these applications? Cloud – provides agility and stability from an infrastructure perspective. Structural flexibility – allows easier configuration for new business models. Consumer experience – intuitive usability with a modern interface and artificial intelligence. Predictive and automated – tasks and issues can be managed for you.  Oracle’s Cloud applications are designed with all of these features built-in from the start, and institutions expect them. Recent Cloud applications customers - Baylor University and University of Edinburgh – expect these to help them gain competitive advantage and modernize their operations, respectively. Your final check-list Institutions are all different. Deciding when and how to adopt innovative and applications and technologies, depends on your institution’s strategic priorities, culture, resources and existing technology ecosystem. Define your strategy first; then identify a solution. Never be tempted to start with a solution. Move at a pace that suits your institution, but don’t get left behind. Cultivate a different type of relationship with your solution provider(s). You need a partnership. What’s next for you? I assume you are already adopting some of these innovative applications and technologies, or at least starting to think about it. If not, maybe this blog series has given you food for thought. I hope so. If you have business needs that can be better delivered by using these technologies, then go for it. Don’t hold back in looking at opportunities to create tomorrow’s campus, today. By the way, Oracle OpenWorld is coming-up very soon and there will be new technology aplenty on display. Plus thousands of peers from all sorts of industries who are no doubt considering similar questions to your institution. We also have lots of education and research industry sessions to explore and demos of the broadest range of innovative applications and technology. Come and join us!  If, after these three blogs, you are still in need of inspiration, then take a lot at all these additional examples, from all kinds of industries, and including education and research of course. With that, here ends this particular trilogy of blogs. However with technology always evolving at a faster pace, the discussion around adopting new technology will never end.

You made it! Welcome to the third and final blog in this series - to help you decide how and when to embrace new technologies. If you missed the earlier blogs or need a refresher, you might like...

Education and Research

Beyond the Technology: Benefits of the Higher Education User Group

Oracle has a longstanding commitment to higher education and promoting the successful use of SaaS products in this space. One of the entities we have supported over the years is the Higher Education User Group (HEUG), the worldwide community enabling the sharing of knowledge and practices to maximize institution investment in Higher Education Information Systems. HEUG President Jason Wenrick shares his views below on the benefits of this organization and his vision for this truly valuable community. Having now been on the Board for four years and now as President of the HEUG, I am proud that our organization has strengthened our partnership with Oracle and believe that as higher education moves more into the cloud and SaaS products, “partners” needs to be the critical word we have when working with our vendors in order to ensure long term success. I believe that we will continue to collaborate and represent the entire global higher education position as it relates to technology, which will be even more imperative as more and more of our membership move various Cloud products. Online Discussion Forums As a global organization with representatives from over 37 countries, our discussions (online / via email / in digest) have thousands of members on them at any given time, ready to answer questions as they occur. One of the greatest attributes of working in Higher Education is that we are collegial by nature, and if we can help a fellow institution save time or money with a quick answer we will. We have experts for a large variety of technologies and at every stage of the adoption curve, so there is always someone not just willing but enthusiastic to share their knowledge and provide support.  Last year we had over 16,000 posts.  The HEUG file libraries have thousands of files available for download at any time (every webinar, all the past conference presentations, and files shared by members) and we had over 120,000 files downloaded this past year alone.   HEUG Events Our annual Alliance Conferenceis the largest gathering of higher education institutions and users of Oracle products in the world. With 3500+ attendees, over 400 sessions, across 26 unique tracks.  While Alliance is our biggest event, we have an additional 12 regional events around the world. Over 3,000 attendees come to our regional conferences in the US (six of them throughout the country), EMEA(Europe, Middle East, Africa), Canada, Latin America, Southern African, Australia/New Zealandand Asia Pacific.  Our conferences are often the first interaction our members have as they begin their path with the HEUG, meeting people, networking and helping solve problems for their institution. All of this combines to ensure that every member, regardless of their title or level at their organization, has an opportunity to learn and connect with peers. Online Education The HEUG’s year-round online educational programs for our members are built to facilitate training and learning all year round. In the past year we have had over 150 webinars across all areas of interest. From 4-week deep dives, to small panel discussions, to short product and module specific presentations, the HEUG strives to deliver new and interesting content regularly and presented by fellow members who are doing and using the same products.  We thank Jason for sharing what he sees are the core benefits of being a member of the HEUG. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Oracle has a longstanding commitment to higher education and promoting the successful use of SaaS products in this space. One of the entities we have supported over the years is the Higher Education...

Education and Research

Connecting the Cloud – The Rise of Academic Cloud Exchanges

In my blog series, I’m going to deep-dive into the public higher education and academic research sector in order to better understand how Oracle can maximize its impact across the whole diameter of this strategic customer ecosystem. Let’s Get Started In the last four decades, the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) have been developed from being a specialized Internet Service Provider (ISP) dedicated to serve the public research and education communities within a country to a regional conglomerate of e-Infrastructure Providers not only offering connectivity services but also covering national identity federations (Single-Sign-On infrastructures), computer security incident response teams (CSIRT), and lately public cloud service brokering functions, coordinated across the globe. Providing access to more and cheaper Internet bandwidth as well as to dedicated transport network capacities has always been the requirement of higher education institutions and academic research laboratories for connecting their collaborative research applications world-wide. With the advent of public cloud services, sufficient connectivity to major cloud providers is ever so more important for the entire public sector. Fast Connectivity So, the obvious question from public sector institutions is then where they can safely and securely meet relevant cloud providers such as Oracle? They are looking for an easy-to-reach location at the minimum expense, preferably via their trusted connectivity provider partner i.e. the NREN of the country.  Oracle is present at the major Internet Exchange Points (IXP) across the globe and the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) can be reached via the public Internet as well as via dedicated Internet Protocol Security (IPsec) Virtual Private Network (VPN) solutions on top. Moreover, Oracle FastConnect service provides both public and private peering options via multiple 1 or 10 Gbps dedicated private connections between the customers’ location and OCI data centers without using VPN of Network Address Translation (NAT). To extend the reach of OCI, Oracle works with an extensive network of commercial FastConnect Network Provider or Exchange Partners such as Verizon, Equinix and many others. Cloud Exchange services are being offered by the major IXPs and commercial data centers around the world, and NRENs – due to their unique positions in the public sector – have also started to advertise themselves as de-facto cloud exchange points for their academic research and education institutions. Technically speaking, these emerging academic cloud exchanges are either Layer 2 Ethernet Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN) based switching fabrics or Layer 3 IP Boarder Gateway Protocol (BGP) peering routers often implemented in a distributed architecture inside the NRENs’ network. The advantage for Oracle being logically present at these Academic Cloud Exchanges is basically the fact that all higher education and academic research customers (in some countries other public bodies such as government agencies, libraries, schools, hospitals) can connect us by default at their lowest possible expense, leveraging their existing trusted NREN provider. Academic Cloud Exchanges As one of the pioneers, Internet2 – the national research and education network in the US – announced the general availability of their Internet2 Cloud Connect Service in March 2019. The exchange allows the Internet2 community to leverage its regional and national infrastructure to directly access leading cloud services including Oracle. Internet2 customers can use their connection points on the Internet2 packet network to establish packet connectivity at either Layer 2 or Layer 3 to cloud providers. Similarly in Europe, the European association of research and education networks called GÉANT also offers a distributed cloud exchange service for academia referred as the GÉANT Cloud VRF. This is implemented as a dedicated Layer 3 Virtual Rerouting and Forwarding (VRF) overlay on top of the GÉANT backbone network. GÉANT makes sure that traffic in the Cloud VRF can only be exchanged between customers and their selected cloud providers via transparent BGP tagging and filtering mechanism.   AARNet in Australia has been taken the leading role in the Asia Pacific region. AARNet Connect enables service providers to connect to the AARNet network in order to provide hosted and cloud-based services to AARNet’s customers. Like traditional peering, it allows traffic between service providers and AARNet customers to be unmetered and congestion free – bypassing commercial Internet peering exchanges. Where To Go All these examples above call for a coordinated action at the global scale enabling Oracle to strategically engage these NRENs and their conglomerates in the various geographies. Cloud connectivity is just the very first but important step in this journey, I’m going to explore further technical and business enablers in my next coming blog posts. Strategic partnership with the key players of the global research and education ecosystem must go above and beyond. Oracle is sponsoring the largest and most prestigious European research and education networking conference TNC’19, held on 16-20 June 2019, in Tallinn, Estonia. Come visit and learn more about Oracle solutions!  To learn more about how Oracle is enabling research at scale, visit us here.

In my blog series, I’m going to deep-dive into the public higher education and academic research sector in order to better understand how Oracle can maximize its impact across the whole diameter of...

Still building your IT research platform?

Oracle has supported the research industry for over 30 years and provides innovative cloud solutions to help advance research. After reading the blog below, take a look at Oracle in research institutions. Jeff Covert observes where Oracle collaborates and competes with other cloud providers. Based on his observations of Oracle and other leading cloud solution providers, Jeff has written this blog to provide his perspective on the 'build versus buy' cloud approach for research. Please add your comments and feedback, I know Jeff would welcome your thoughts. The Promise Cloud computing promised information as a utility.   Data with the ease of a light switch.  The electricity’s path, the circuit breakers and bulb is immaterial.  You need light.   You pay for what you use.   IT is another utility that just needs to work.  Your research sits on top of the platform.  Creating the platform is a waste of precious resources. How much time and budget was spent on wiring a cloud together that was supposed to be a utility?  Did your facility and admin (F&A) expense ratio hurt your chances to win a grant?  Wining research grants and funds is hard work.  F&A costs impact grant opportunities.  The process and evaluation issues with these expenses was engaged in “Knee-capping excellence”  an article by Ronald Daniels, President of Johns Hopkins University.   Dr. Daniels published his observations in Issues in Science and Technology magazine.   Reducing F&A expenses is the path to more grants and more effective grant use. Two Approaches Let’s look at how to limit your non-research IT expenses.  There are two common types of cloud platforms and three cost saving approaches. The two kinds of cloud platforms are: Build-it-yourself or a commercial cloud service.  To build an IT platform you need to set and manage partitions, buffers, queues, and data event handling.  Quick start code, an orchestration tool, and open source code require modifications.  Typically the build-it-yourself labor, security, integration, and ongoing platform maintenance expenses are not charged to the project.  The alternative is a low code, configurable commercial cloud service.  The commercial service is faster, complete, tested, and maintained by a vendor.   The build-it-yourself tool kit is cheap to start and good for small projects.  Some projects start small and consume large budgets over time.  Only the bravest projects track all the labor spent on do-it-yourself IT work.  Frequently, this labor is buried as indirect costs.  These expenses are visible in the Institution’s cost profile making new proposals unaffordable. Choices How can the build-your-own cloud be managed?  The following cost savings approaches are tied to vendors.  One approach is to preempt certain workloads during peak usage hours.  The supply and demand approach will serve those that can operate their workloads during off-peak times of day and shorter duration.  This approach requires that compute tasks can be stopped and restarted in lower cost time of day.  Another approach is a loyalty rebate.   As you consume monthly resources a cash-back award is earned for large time blocks of usage.  The third approach is to have a cloud service that has AI/ML efficiencies built into the service.  This is “all-in” pay as you go model does not use restarts or cash back.  Sara Jeanes wrote an article in Internet 2 magazine about this topic.  Sara included usage and price data for AWS and Google.  A useful performance comparison between AWS and Oracle is here. An array of industry benchmarks showed the performance of the pre-engineered approach over build-it-yourself. Research requires IT capabilities.  Efficiency gives your institution an advantage in competing for funds.  Utilizing a pre-built cloud platform saves costs and enables more research. Thanks Jeff, great insight! If this resonates with you, please join us at Oracle OpenWorld, 16-19 September. I am really looking forward to talking to a great panel in the ‘Advancing Research with Oracle Cloud’ session. This and other research sessions can be found in the education and research sessions list.  

Oracle has supported the research industry for over 30 years and provides innovative cloud solutions to help advance research. After reading the blog below, take a look at Oracle in research...

When and how to adopt new technology (part 2)

For those that missed part 1, fear not, you can catch it here! Okay, so assuming you have now caught-up, let’s crack-on with part 2. The focus of part 2 is on some of the innovative/emerging/transformational technologies available today, and how they can help education and research institutions. Internet of Things (IoT) IoT is certainly well established but the on-going potential and impact is still astounding. This year we will reach 50B smart connected devices, producing 8 zettabytes of data! Facilities management is a very frequent immediate focus and rightly-so. It can be very beneficial in terms of utility savings, as well as increased comfort and security. Buildings and facilities that are monitored, automated and integrated using sensors and computer systems are becoming increasingly commonplace. But don’t only focus on facilities management. Consider using it to improve the student experience with — person specific, location based — services, modelled on profiles and past behaviours. Guiding first year students to lectures using beacons and their smart phones. Sending alerts as they pass the bookstore, reminding them to buy their outstanding books today, offering a discount. Encouraging healthy eating by immediately sending a digital coupon for free fruit, when they buy something unhealthy! Conversational Interfaces Conversational interfaces, such as chatbots and digital assistants, are fast replacing the most common interfaces on computers and connected devices, because the user experience is so much better. These computer programmes leverage artificial intelligence to enable natural conversations with people. The most common first step to use chatbots is for frequently asked questions. Applicant — “When is the next university open day?”  Student — “When is the library open on Sunday?” Staff — “When is the sports centre least frequented by students?” But the key differentiator is that they not only provide information but actually suggest and making transactional changes. So they can help students with class choices and then enrol them. They can help students pay fees and find the right type of Advisor. They can also help with a lot of administration by booking — rooms, parking, sports facilities — and resetting passwords. Think about the savings in administration cost for each support call, plus providing a more efficient and better service. The University of Adelaide significantly improved their processes and service levels at a critical time of year for their applicants.     Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Artificial intelligence might still be a scary term for some, but the fact is, AI is driving the very consumer experiences we are all use and really appreciate in our daily lives. Various consumer services would not be able to deliver the same experience and delight without AI and ML. AI and ML use data-patterns to improve student enrolment, student outcomes and student success. Student Enrolments: Improve the selection of students to courses by matching the right students to the right courses. Similar logic helps identify which candidates might be the best fit for a job. Student Outcomes: Suggest specific learning paths for each student. Student Success: Predict which students are at risk and intervene with an appropriate action, at the right time. AI and ML can assist with automating routine tasks such as expense — entry, approval and fraud detection. Also inventory management can be automated – monitoring of stock levels, learning lead times and reordering. Blockchain These decentralised ledgers for keeping track of secure records are an example of technology advancing brand new business models. Trust models between individuals and organisations can be re-designed; with the individual truly owning the data. The most common example generally is for payments and digital smart contracts. The most common use case in education and research is for authenticating learning records with digital competency indicators. I believe MIT was one of the first institutions to deliver digital diplomas via an app based on blockchain, to a pilot graduate cohort. Since then, many other institutions are developing the capability to do the same. For example New Mexico College and China Distance Education.   However I think there is an even bigger case for using it in research — for securing publications and data sets. Similarly there is a place for it to track the provenance and use of materials. Adopting these yet? I wonder how far your institution has gone down the path of using these technologies. I expect you will be further along with some than others, but still probably nowhere near taking full advantage of the technologies available to you today. Don’t worry, that’s a fairly normal pattern and in part 3 — coming in a few weeks — I’ll cover some strategies to help you decide how and when to embrace innovative technologies. Until then, please follow the prompt below; I’d love your feedback, ideas and examples.

For those that missed part 1, fear not, you can catch it here! Okay, so assuming you have now caught-up, let’s crack-on with part 2. The focus of part 2 is on some of...

Education and Research

Support Options for Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 After 2019

While Premier Support for Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.2 continues through at least 2030, Extended Support for the 9.0 version of the product concludes at the end of this year. On January 1, 2020, Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 enters Sustaining Support and customers will no longer receive fixes and updates for that version. Because a number of our Campus Solutions customers have plans to migrate to Oracle Student Cloud solutions, including Oracle Student Financial Planning and Oracle Student Management, or have plans to upgrade to Campus Solutions 9.2 but may not complete these activities by the end of 2019, Oracle is offering additional support for Campus Solutions 9.0 that customers can purchase through Oracle Advanced Customer Services. Oracle Advanced Customer Services offers Severity 1 Fixes and Legislative Update for Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 to help customers in maintaining current capabilities while managing a migration to cloud or the timing of an upgrade, according to their business requirements. In addition to providing time and flexibility needed to make informed decisions about cloud migration or upgrading, customers benefit by maintaining regulatory compliance and minimizing production downtime risks through this offering. Customers who purchase this support offering will receive fixes for Severity 1 issues; updates to the existing integration functionality of Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.0 and Oracle Student Financial Planning; and regulatory and legislative updates for US and UK implementations. This services is initially offered from January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 with the potential to extend the service for two additional years. For more information, download the data sheet or visit Oracle Advanced Customer Services and click on the Contact us link and select “other expert support." In the coming months, I will be posting insights for our customers on approaching a migration to the cloud-- from "quick wins" achieved by migrating on-premise application workloads to the Oracle Cloud to the human and technical considerations of moving to cloud-based SaaS applications.

While Premier Support for Oracle PeopleSoft Campus Solutions 9.2 continues through at least 2030, Extended Support for the 9.0 version of the product concludes at the end of this year. On January 1,...

When and how to adopt new technology (part 1)

I have presented this topic at a couple of conferences recently and it ends-up becoming more of a discussion with the audience, than a pure presentation. I like that. Gathering the thoughts of others on this theme is very interesting and therapeutic! I am looking forward to presenting…or should I say 'discussing' this again at the up-coming HEUG Asia Alliance conference. Disruption Can you name an industry that hasn’t been or isn’t being disrupted? Everywhere we look, new entrants to industries are becoming household names prominent smart-phone apps and billion dollar companies in unprecedented timescales. In almost all cases, their rapid rise is made possible by embracing new, innovative technologies. Incumbent leaders are too slow or too reticent to adopt these new technologies and therefore fall-behind or worse still fall-away entirely.  I won’t bore you with reciting the story of the black logo modern-day transportation company, or the 'bed and breakfast' company with the world’s largest selection of bedrooms. I'll just reiterate that these companies have completely transformed the way we find, book, share and pay for transportation and accommodation. However I did want to regale the story of another company that could greatly benefit people like me. Carbon - an Oracle customer – is collaborating with Adidas to 3D print the soles of shoes, specific to personalized data-points of customers. This significantly enhances the customer experience, revolutionizes the production cycle and transforms the supply chain process. What did I mean by “people like me”? Well, I have difficulty finding shoes that fit well!  All change No industry is immune from disruption and certainly not the education and research industry. Everyone has their list of disruptive forces headings from: globalization, to new education models, to changing expectations and accelerating technology. Under changing expectations – we all familiar with the huge increase in the expectations of applicants, students and staff today. When I was at university I mostly took what I was given, well okay maybe with a little bit of moaning. Times have changed though and I put this down to three main reasons:  Higher tuition fees, much higher! I was extremely fortunate to be in the last UK cohort paying no tuition fees whatsoever. Yes, I benefited from a four year Bachelor of Science degree, for £0. Expectations of the same seamless processes and consumer experiences of smart devices and modern apps. Many students have grown-up immersed in this world. Everything is else is positively prehistoric. Nowhere to hide! Everyone is almost instantly aware when something is good or bad because of immediate updates on social media. Cycles I could write multiple blogs about the disruptive forces but to save your eyes I’ll switch to cadence and scale of disruption cycles. Like many industries, education and research has been used to nice, gentle waves of disruption; where we can see it coming, have time to prepare and instigate a coping strategy. I witnessed this when I worked at Imperial College London but before I am lynched by former colleagues I do also remember the panic sometimes thrust upon us as well! However, the disruption cycles now and in the foreseeable future are intense, pervasive and unpredictable. So, it’s not effective to always pursue a coping strategy of a recovering model. Often now, education and research communities need to be prepared to develop and implement brand new models to cope with each disruption quickly. If not, the next disruption will be upon you and you wouldn’t have recovered from the last one. Modernization Modern expectations and enabling flexible business models are core principles of Oracle Student Cloud. Listen to Central State University's thoughts on this topic.   There are lots more examples of innovative solutions and customer stories on the Oracle Education and Research website. Ready? So, at this point, I wonder what you are thinking about your institution's readiness? Is your institution immersed in the digital age? Do you have the tools to enable digital transformation? Are you agile enough for the next wave of disruption? To be continued… Hmm, I just checked my word count. It seems to be growing exponentially but I planned to cover: Innovative technologies and example use cases Deciding how and when to embrace new technologies So I’ve just inserted a ‘(part 1)’ into the heading and I’ll carry on in a few weeks’ time. I’m just getting warmed-up, so as I hear a lot in the US…stay tuned!

I have presented this topic at a couple of conferences recently and it ends-up becoming more of a discussion with the audience, than a pure presentation. I like that. Gathering the thoughts of others...

Education and Research

How Blockchain Could Help Prevent College Admissions Scandals

Despite all the recent news coverage of the latest admissions scandal, the bribing, cheating, and falsifying of information to gain admission into educational institutions is not new. While higher educational institutions have implemented policies and procedures for affirmative action, these policies don't do enough to ensure a fair admissions practice. This also does not apply to private primary and secondary educational institutions that don't have open admissions. Compounding the problem with college admissions, prospective students are applying to twice as many schools today as they were just a few years ago. Combine this with the cost of college recruiting and disaster ensues. So how do educational institutions prevent admissions schemes and reduce the cost of college recruiting while ensuring student success? One option some institutions are considering is using blockchain technology to secure and validate student achievement, academic records, and accomplishments. Some colleges and universities have been using blockchain independently since early 2015 to record academic achievements. More colleges are starting to use blockchain for verification of student degrees. For example, Central New Mexico Community College provides every new graduate with their diploma and academic information authenticated and recorded in blockchain. Using blockchain, the college creates tamper-proof records. The blockchain records are replicated on multiple servers throughout participating organizations to preserve information. Anyone authorized to access information on that blockchain (which might include, recruiters, admissions officers, or coaches) could verify whether the student’s academic and athletic achievements are legitimate. Oracle Blockchain Platform can enable school districts, colleges, and universities to prevent admissions scandals by changing the way we manage and share student records. Oracle Blockchain Platform can securely extend the admissions application process while enabling recruiters to increase yield in college admissions and reduce costs. Find out how blockchain can help improve student credentials and admissions process with the Oracle Blockchain Essentials Guide.

Despite all the recent news coverage of the latest admissions scandal, the bribing, cheating, and falsifying of information to gain admission into educational institutions is not new. While higher...

Education and Research

Cloud Computing: A Powerful Research Tool

Today's Featured Blogger: Jenny Tsai-Smith, Oracle Vice President, Cloud Innovation Accelerator  People typically associate Oracle with solutions for business, and rightly so, but we have a long history of working with public sector institutions around the world, including government, education, and research. Our commitment to education in particular is illustrated by the Oracle Academy, Oracle’s flagship program in education philanthropy, which partners with more than 15,000 educational institutions in 128 countries. Through this free program—for educators and students—Oracle Academy supports 6.3 million students annually. A more recent example is the new Oracle Cloud Innovation Accelerator program, which enables educators, researchers, students, and university-affiliated entrepreneurs to use the power of Oracle’s cloud technology to accelerate scientific discoveries, and create solutions that have the potential to make a significant and positive impact in our world. We’re participating in a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and facilitated by Internet2 to create innovative cloud computing capabilities for science applications and scientific computing research. The project, known as Exploring Clouds for Acceleration of Science (E-CAS), invite proposals from researchers across multiple academic disciplines interested in performing cutting-edge scientific and computing studies by leveraging capabilities in cloud computing platforms.  The criteria for evaluation of E-CAS projects are Acceleration of Science, and Innovation. We’re seeing many examples of how the education and research community is doing both with the Oracle Cloud: University of Texas at Arlington and Yale University researchers are using the cloud to speed evaluation of cognitive disorders in children. Students at Stanford University are building creative cloud-based solutions to real-world problems such as lowering disaster response times, supporting human rights, and improving access to medicine. ELEM Biotech, a spinout from Barcelona Supercomputing Center, is developing computational Virtual Humans, where drugs or medical devices can be tested in-silico to run heart and respiratory simulations requiring the fastest supercomputer performance. Cardiff University's Dr Vivien Raymond is using high performance cloud computing to accelerate the massively complex simulations needed to predict and analyze gravitational waves generated from black hole mergers, billions of light years from Earth. Researchers at Bristol University are shifting simulations from shared on-premise supercomputing clusters to the cloud with impressive results. Molecular analysis of nicotine receptors took 4 days versus 3 to 4 months, potentially leading to more effective cures for nicotine addiction. The Intelligent IoT Integration (I3) consortium at University of Southern California is capturing streaming video to identify litter, graffiti, illegal dumping, and vandalism in the streets of Los Angeles. Oracle Cloud technology processes the images, using deep learning to label the data, and makes that data available to other applications. Cloud computing is transforming the research paradigm from batch to on-demand, enabling researchers to work with greater agility and productivity, at lower cost. Cloud computing has revolutionized enterprise computing over the past decade and clearly it has the potential to provide similar impact for campus-based scientific workloads.  For more information on the Oracle Cloud Innovation Accelerator program, click the link or visit https://www.oracle.com/industries/education-and-research/innovation-accelerator/      

Today's Featured Blogger: Jenny Tsai-Smith, Oracle Vice President, Cloud Innovation Accelerator  People typically associate Oracle with solutions for business, and rightly so, but we have a long history...

Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education

Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings a lot of promise to transforming higher education, but with many challenges for broad adoption. Researchers at some of the largest social media platforms, eCommerce and technology companies in the world have halted their AI programs as their machine learning algorithms have been found to exacerbate biases. So while replacing human activities with computers may still be years away, AI still provides us with opportunities to augment tasks and services. Oracle makes it easy for higher education to realize value from artificial intelligence and machine learning (ML). Through AI-powered cloud applications, departments can drive better business outcomes through intelligent features such as smart candidate lists in our HCM suite. Oracle’s ready-to-build AI platform also gives data scientists and application developers a range of cloud services to easily build, train, deploy, and manage AI-powered solutions. We have also put machine learning to work in our technology with ready-to-work Oracle Autonomous Database platforms, machine learning is working behind the scenes to automate security patching and backups and optimize database query performance. So colleges and universities can leverage AI to alleviate many of the technology administrative activities as well as to take over mundane tasks. For example, institutions can improve student experience leveraging chatbots to support application, admission, and registration activities. Leveraging AI to improve admissions by matching students to programs can help institutions reduce the cost of student recruiting. Public universities spend on average $536 per student recruiting. Artificial Intelligence also has the potential to deliver a personalized learning path, personalizing the student experience to improve student outcomes with virtual academic advisors and tutors. Identifying patterns of data that predict which students could become at-risk, enabling timely and personalized interventions will lead to improved student success a priority among higher-education institutions is to improve retention and graduation rates for all students. So while Artificial Intelligence is not going to solve all major problems facing higher education, the application of the technology is capable of augmenting services to improve operational efficiencies and reduce costs.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings a lot of promise to transforming higher education, but with many challenges for broad adoption. Researchers at some of the largest social media platforms, eCommerce...

Education and Research

EDUCAUSE Annual Conference - Innovate and Differentiate with Enterprise Cloud Services

I have been a member of EDUCAUSE for over a decade both from a member institution as well as through my role as global solutions architect with Sun Microsystems. It was through my role at Sun that I had the broadest exposure to EDUCAUSE collaborating on industry standards for identity management at the time. A lot has changed over the past decade, both in terms of technology and the level of vendor engagement. There once was a time that vendors partnered with EDUCAUSE to support innovation and transformation. It seems now vendors make financial contributions for the right to engage the community. Don't get me wrong, the financial contributions are important, but I would rather see a partnership that leads to innovation. Oracle is making a significant investment in the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference this year and looking forward to expanding our partnership throughout the Educause community. Cloud has become the great equalizer for educational institutions. Every institution is faced with the need to transform: Students, faculty, staff and the external community all have different expectations, but they uniformly expect modern services and capabilities. To meet these demands, institutions are increasingly embracing innovative technologies such as chatbots powered by artificial intelligence, modern student systems, and autonomous cloud services. Join us on Wednesday October 31st to hear from leading institutions how they are prioritizing and embracing these new technologies, and how our latest investments, including Oracle Student Cloud, and autonomous cloud services such as database, integration, security and management, are helping to create a dynamic, modern and personalized experience for the entire community. Tonjia Coverdale, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, Central State University Max Davis-Johnson, Associate VP Information Technology, CIO, Boise State University  Nicole Engelbert, Vice President Higher Education Development, Oracle  Frank Leber, VP Information Systems, Moody Bible Institute Meeting Room 503/504 Wednesday, October 31st 10:45 AM - 11:30 AM We are excited to share how customers have applied innovative technologies to improve their institutions. I look forward to seeing you at EDUCAUSE and exploring opportunities to deepen the partnership.    

I have been a member of EDUCAUSE for over a decade both from a member institution as well as through my role as global solutions architect with Sun Microsystems. It was through my role at Sun that I...

Plenty of Opportunities to do your Research

It’s the Autumn/Fall (depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside). That means it’s another busy conference season. It’s action-packed and I am really looking forward to it. I hope some of you reading this are also on the road to explore new technologies, hear inspiring customer stories and make new connections. If you are attending any of the below conferences, please stop-by to say hello. If not, it’s not too late to register! Exchanging technology in Orlando We kick-off with the Internet2 Technology Exchange, in Orlando, October 15-18. This conference brings together chief technologists, scientists, engineers, architects, operators and students in the Research and Education community, to discuss the direction of the industry, and to share best practices. I won’t be attending but my colleagues will be sharing examples of how institutions such as WVSOM are using Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Platform to more easily manage their IT estate and save costs, while keeping their data secure.     Innovating and shaping the future in San Francisco Then it’s the big one…Oracle OpenWorld takes place in San Francisco, October 22-25. We have put together a really exciting mixed programme of Education and Research industry sessions and customer stories. Too often at conferences the ‘Research’ part of ‘Education and Research’ doesn’t get enough air time. However the Research industry is a big focus for Oracle and this is reflected in some great sessions from some big-draw research institutions. For example, you may have previously read this article about how the flexible use of massive cloud computing capacity is radically changing the pace of research and innovation at the I3 IoT consortium led by University of Southern California. Come and listen to this being explained in person, as well as many others including: CERN, Stanford University, University of Bristol and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center: Accelerating IoT Research and Innovation with Smart Cloud Strategies [CAS6475] Oracle Cloud: Accelerating Science Today and Enabling the Makers of Tomorrow [CAS6639] Research Analytics at Scale: CERN’s Experience with Oracle’s Cloud Solutions [CAS1315] Boosting Complex IoT Analysis with Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud [CAS2016] Implementing Driver-Based Rolling Forecasts at MD Anderson [CAS1324] You will find details of these sessions and selected others in Focus On Education & Research. Personally, I am intrigued to find-out more about the ways technologies such as: Big Data, Internet-of-Things, Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Data Warehouse are radically changing what is possible in data-driven research. Discovering solutions in Denver Then, with barely enough time to turn-around with a replenished suitcase, Oracle will be a Gold Partner at the upcoming EDUCAUSE Annual Conference in Denver, Oct 30 – Nov 2. On the eve of the conference, please join us by registering for Oracle's Executive Summit at EDUCAUSE. This is a great opportunity to network with your peers and listen to a panel session with a formidable line-up, moderated by Nicole Engelbert. If you can’t join us at the Executive Summit, there is another opportunity to hear from equally distinguished panellists during the main conference - Innovate and Differentiate with Enterprise Cloud Services. Of course it’s not all about summits and sessions. As long as the exhibit-hall is open, the Oracle booth (#502) will welcome you to discuss and demonstrate: Oracle Cloud Platform and Infrastructure, Student Cloud, Student Financial Planning, Finance, Planning/Budgeting and Human Capital Management. Plus, stop by and meet our newest employee, Pepper, and enjoy some winter fun and games to boot! Supercomputing in Dallas I’ll be rounding-off this conference season as a first-timer at the SC18 conference, in Dallas, November 11-16. Immersed in the world of High Performance Computing (HPC), please visit Oracle at booth #2806 to better-understand how Oracle helps researchers respond and innovate faster with Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Platform. Let us show you how Oracle: Delivers performance equal or better to on-premises HPC clusters Provides the elasticity you need to ramp usage up and down, as needs change And…at lower, more predictable costs than our competitors! Still today, I often attend conferences and at least one person will look at my badge and say “Oracle...hmm, what do you guys do apart from a database” or “Oracle, that’s the database company, right?” If you are attending any of these conferences and are thinking along these lines, then come and find the Oracle booth or Oracle sessions. Sure, we can tell you about databases but we can also tell you about the world’s first autonomous/self-driving database and all of the other autonomous cloud services. In addition we can of course share with you information about all of our other cloud solutions that support education and research institutions all around the world. Visit our exhibition booths at these events and learn why Oracle is not just a database company! With that, I won’t take-up any more of your travel/conference booking time, and I hope to see you at one or more of these conferences. Safe travels.

It’s the Autumn/Fall (depending on which side of the Atlantic you reside). That means it’s another busy conference season. It’s action-packed and I am really looking forward to it. I hope some of you...

40 Years of Technology and Research Evolution

Sadly (for us, not him) Jim McDowell is retiring after 40 stellar years in the technology and research industries. He has kindly penned his closing thoughts below. I am sure you will enjoy reading his take on the past, present and future. Thank you and all the best to you Jim; it’s been a pleasure working with you. When I started in the clinical and research worlds in the 1970s, computers were just beginning to be available to average medical centers and researchers outside of the most elite universities. I remember our exuberance when we got our first DEC PDP-8 mini-computer. It was the size of a refrigerator and had a whopping 64K of addressable memory and a large floppy disc drive for storage and program loading. Fast forward 40 years, and we’ve all seen the many comparisons of how today’s cell phones have more computing power than the greatest supercomputers did a relative few years ago. Imagine, today’s biggest supercomputers run over 35,000 processors, with transaction speeds of over 200 petaflops.  Certainly interesting, but…  SO WHAT? There are a few answers to “So what” that I believe have been most important to the research community – and more importantly – to society overall. Underpinning Big Data Advances First, data is exploding all around us, and will continue its exponential growth until the end of time. With this massive accumulation of data, analytical tools and methods have necessarily evolved to allow exploration of data relationships - not only in massive data sets - but importantly, on wildly disparate data types, and by users with lower levels of technical expertise. The deeper importance of this set of developments should never be overlooked. The ability for highly trained scientists in medicine, engineering, plant science, or business – to explore data relationships within large pools of disparate data types, without the need for lengthy and expensive data “cleansing” and normalization projects, or a team of PhD Data Scientists at their side for even basic exploration, is huge. It allows for people with the deepest knowledge of a science area to do initial exploration of data relationships that could lead to new discoveries, at a pace hundreds of time faster than past methods would allow. Without the massive computing power that has become available, these advances would have been impossible. In the medical world I’ve spent most of my career in, the development of “Big Data” analytic methods and the computing power to support their practical use has been particularly important. They are driving discovery of new treatments and improved care models, and really anchor our hopes of genomics-driven new cures in the future. The sheer computing power now available in the cloud, is also driving incredible new developments in areas like molecular modeling and drug design. Take a couple of minutes to learn about the amazing work done by the Centre for Computational Chemistry at the University of Bristol. In the physics world, the value of this evolution in computing power can probably be no better-framed than the work CERN is doing in particle physics. CERN’s 27-kilometre-long Large Hadron Collider contains over 50,000 sensors and monitors, and the experiments on it generate around 50 petabytes of data every year. Their work has yielded many new discoveries, including the famous Higgs boson particle – and their worldwide network of thousands of research collaborators – promises many more important discoveries in the future. However, without the continual advances in computing power, storage efficiency, and analytic tool prowess – the pace of that discovery would be severely limited.     Improving Collaboration and Study Design The second place I believe all this computing power (coupled with the evolution of the internet) has had a profound impact on research – is in collaborative data access. And it’s not just access to raw observational data from worldwide sources, but equally important – access to the vast body of findings from current and past studies, again with extraordinary text-mining and other tools – to more fully inform researchers on what is known about their targeted research to-date and how to sharpen study design. And the ability to compare and analyze results of numerous prior studies, including textual documentation of very old observations – has led to some interesting new discoveries already, and will certainly yield more as this evolution continues. Speeding the Application of Research The third place we in the medical world expect this evolution will have an impact in the future, is in a drastic reduction of the research to clinical practice time cycle (or so-called “bench-to-bedside” time). Today’s computational and collaboration tools allow for far more rapid identification and recruitment of subjects, gathering and analysis of study data, faster collaboration among researchers, and ultimately faster publishing of results. Undoubtedly, the growing application of artificial intelligence will act as an accelerant across many of these dimensions. As exciting as the above benefits are in their own rights – the thing I am most intrigued by in medicine - is the potential for big data analyses on (still developing) massive EMR data sets, to allow for discovery of diagnostic and treatment advances – purely from spotting relationships on mass volumes of patient data. With the growing access to reliable data and the tools to analyze it faster, this new approach to discovery needs to be exploited, rather than relying solely on traditional research processes that take years to yield clinical benefits. This change will be difficult in the current medical ecosystem – but the benefits are potentially enormous. Enabling AI and ML Finally, the massive growth in computing power, along with the continually lower costs required to deploy it – is fueling the incredible growth in artificial intelligence and machine learning that promise to literally change the world. Whether in medical breakthroughs, improved cyber security, a myriad of smart cities applications, or finally letting us elders watch TV without learning 4 remotes – the benefits AI will surely bring are beyond current imagination. Signing Off As my generation prepares to pass the baton of driving further advances to our younger colleagues, I am extraordinarily excited to watch the next decade or two of our progress. I’m particularly encouraged that the current generation of talent in all the key disciplines required to drive continued advances - is truly exceptional. Better trained, more informed, and better equipped than all generations before them. Quite personally, I’m counting on them to at least defeat cancer and Alzheimer’s - so I can write another 40 year observation down the road!

Sadly (for us, not him) Jim McDowell is retiring after 40 stellar years in the technology and research industries. He has kindly penned his closing thoughts below. I am sure you will enjoy reading his...

Why Diversity Matters!

Tony Nneke is a Higher Education Specialist who is passionate about promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. I am proud of the great strides Tony has made to raise awareness about these important issues, and he has reflected on these below in his blog. The title of this blog has been the topic of much discussion and debate, at many conferences, and rightly so. This is a hot topic within all industries; across public and private sector. Higher Education institutions, in particular, are honest enough to ask themselves “Does our leadership, academic and student profile reflect society when it comes to representation of diversity, equality and inclusion?” It is a question that presents the opportunity to review current processes - reshape, rethink and revalue. Then either continue with conscious competence that they are heading in the right direction or start to implement changes, to better reflect the society they will be enriching. This resonates with me personally and professionally. The focus of this blog is on the staff community but I am mindful of the greater reflection and action needed in the student community. A more positive change towards diversity, equality and inclusion for students, is from my personal experience, something that is close to my heart and quite frankly could be its own blog. Whilst attending a seminar hosted by the Higher Educational Policy Institute I was asked “So what does Oracle do in this area?” It was quite a simple question and I know Oracle does a lot to promote and support these issues. I was surprised they didn’t know, but of course why should they? We shouldn’t expect them to know; I certainly shouldn’t have. It is all our responsibility to share our stories; it is our job to wax lyrical about the good work we are doing to encourage greater representation of diversity, equality and inclusion. We should be just as obsessive about our great initiatives in this area as we are to showcase our customer success stories of Oracle applications and technology. It became clear to me that the Higher Education industry could benefit from hearing what Oracle is doing to embrace and uphold diversity, equality and inclusion. I felt it important to champion sharing our learnings, stories and programmes with the sector. After all, sharing best practices is vital when trying to build a community that truly wants to focus on these pillars of society. So I set-about organising Oracle’s first Diversity, Equality & Inclusion in Higher Education Conference. I was thrilled with the support and guidance of Diana Beech - now Policy Adviser to the Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation - to ensure the agenda accurately covered the challenges of the sector. I also wanted this to raise awareness of Oracle’s fantastic programmes and highlight how Oracle works in partnership with Higher Education institutions.  A great example of this is our work with Women In Industry. The Oracle Women Leadership (OWL) programme empowers and mentors Oracle’s female staff to develop their careers; instilling a sense of pride and inspiring them to continue forging ahead in their profession. Women at Oracle get to hear from and be mentored by senior leaders; they get to support and are a part of great causes aimed at motivating women to know their worth. After the conference, I was approached by universities to help them create similar initiatives for their female staff. We also discussed and shared the great work Oracle is doing in supporting the LGBT+ community; particularly with Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN). In fact the conference keynote was given by the chair of this group, who is transgender. She provided a very thought-provoking and personal insight as to what it was like for her whilst at university and for transgender in general. She described what Oracle does through OPEN and how it provides a platform for LGBT+ colleagues to share their experiences without prejudice and fear. It is a place to discuss innovative ideas, to continue to promote awareness and positive change for all. These are just a few examples and Oracle continues to look at all angles of diversity, equality and inclusion. For example I am part of a new internal team creating a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) group that will pride itself on continuing the great work of our all programmes, through stronger cultural leadership. Quite rightly, more and more customers don’t just ask us whether our solutions can meet their needs. They also ask us to demonstrate how we as an organisation encourage and maintain diversity, equality and inclusion. Customers want to know the type of organisation they are provisioning products and services from and that we have the capability to understand all of their needs, and their customers’ needs. At the conference, we explained how Oracle had to change to focus on this aspect, to be able to accurately evidence this, as part of the sales process. I learned from our conference that core principles are very much transferrable in most professions, as they are really social and moral values at play. Four questions to ask yourself: What culture do we want to truly promote? Do we want a culture that accepts and embraces diversity in race, gender, sexual orientation, class and disability? If we do, then what measures are we taking to ensure that it is fairly represented in our organisation and in our industry? What more can we do to encourage an environment and culture that reflects society of the current and future generations? Oracle wants to be part of the discussions and debate. Oracle has great programmes in diversity, equality and inclusion. We are speaking to universities about these, as we believe in the social value impact. Above all, it is something that we are very proud to talk about.

Tony Nneke is a Higher Education Specialist who is passionate about promoting equality, diversity and inclusion. I am proud of the great strides Tony has made to raise awareness about these important...

Cloud: Essential for the Expanding Research Universe

Humankind has always sought answers. Today, research—our pursuit of answers—is as crucial as ever. Helping us discover, innovate and solve problems, with diminishing resources. Research advances medicine, agriculture, communications, manufacturing and more; transforming the world economically, environmentally, and socially. Responding to the need for more and faster innovation However, academic research faces many pressures, such as the: increased competition for funding need to demonstrate the means to effectuate the research they propose explosion of data; putting more pressure on computing demands need to process computations faster and conduct analysis at scale drive for faster discovery and innovation, to solve ever more complex problems All of these pressures, and more, contribute to a substantial amount of grant-funded project time spent building or provisioning infrastructure and applications; rather than quickly focusing on the research. After winning a grant, an institution must be able to hit the ground running and expand their IT elastically. Modern research runs in the cloud Cloud technologies, such as Cloud Infrastructure and Cloud Platform can facilitate this by providing high-performant processing, storage, and analysis. They also afford flexibility and minimal resource requirements to move quickly and cost-effectively, without the risk of idle capacity or obsolescence. Major research projects experience large fluctuations in how much data they generate and how long it needs to be stored. On-premises-only solutions are no longer adequate to meet the demands of today’s academic research. They have limited capacity, which can’t suddenly be increased in response to demand. Whereas cloud provides nearly unlimited scale and bursting capabilities, allowing researchers to start quickly and collaborate globally, without limitations. Innovative cloud solutions can be provisioned in less than an hour; depending on the type, quantity, and complexity of service(s). As Gary Gabriel, PhD - Oracle Senior Director, Academic Sciences and Research - observes, “We speak with a broad range of academic disciplines and there is robust knowledge-sharing. Knowledge-sharing around the ease, cost, and use of transformational tools such as cloud Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning, Internet-of-Things, Blockchain, and autonomous capabilities are evolving the research experience and changing the delivery of new discoveries. This is impacting many disciplines but particularly: engineering, physical, social, and life sciences.” Cloud offers better security What about data security in the cloud? Higher education holds the number two spot in number of cyber-attacks by industry, right behind healthcare. Research data is, after all, extremely valuable.   It’s difficult for education and research data centers to keep up with the technology and skills to protect this sensitive data. However, cloud offers sophisticated, state-of-the-art data centers, with tight physical security, the latest secure backup and archiving technology and the most skilled data security staff available. As well as compliance with regulatory and auditing requirements. High-performance computing (HPC) in the cloud Certain research disciplines - like aeronautics - call for researchers to test the performance of materials and configurations using high-performance computing. It’s prohibitively expensive and impractical to conduct these tests for real. HPC systems and infrastructure have to ensure minimal latency, and highly reliable, consistent and accurate simulations. For that reason, it is often thought that HPC systems must reside on-premises. However modern HPC systems in the cloud are matching and even exceeding on-premises systems. Continuous investment in Oracle Cloud has made it one of the best platforms for high-performance computing workloads. Researchers can test their simulations and confirm discoveries faster. HPC allows Penn State researchers to explore a world of innovation For Penn State University, cloud infrastructure supports HPC for research - spanning weather patterns on Mars to Twitter streams in Tunisia. As data-driven research has expanded, Penn State Institute for CyberScience turned to cloud-based infrastructure to handle big fluctuations in computing demand and increasing capacity needs. Having on-site computational capacity sitting idle is far from a cost-effective use of resources. With cloud infrastructure, researchers have computational power always at the ready and can work across departments and institutes to conduct interdisciplinary research with ease.     A crazy idea…certainly not! There is a great quote in a recent Forbes article: “When the cloud architect we’d been working with at Oracle first approached me and said ‘You should try this in cloud,’ I thought it was a crazy idea. For that to be running in cloud, the network speeds have to be really fast,” Glowacki says. “But the fact that we can play catch with C60 molecules, among other things, shows that it works.” Expanding the universe of exploration Ultimately, we allow researchers to focus on theories, models and results; rather than computing resources. With cloud infrastructure and platform technologies that can manage enormous quantities of data, the research universe is truly expanding. This enables discovery and innovation that can change the course of human history, ensuring we survive and thrive. This blog covers just a few research customer and innovation examples, but take a look at the brand new Oracle in Research Institutions website, to find a lot more.

Humankind has always sought answers. Today, research—our pursuit of answers—is as crucial as ever. Helping us discover, innovate and solve problems, with diminishing resources. Research advances...

Advancing NeuroDiagnostics with Artificial Intelligence

                    The combination of Oracle’s advanced technology, free Oracle cloud credits (yes…free!) and leading researchers is delivering a project to evaluate children for various cognitive disorders. Our guest blogger, Jon Russell, Innovation Director in the Oracle Startup for Higher Education organization – describes how this collaboration of technology, cloud credits and leading researchers, has led to a breakthrough in the field of neurocognitive analysis and diagnosis. Helping identify children with cognitive disorders earlier on in life makes treatment of those conditions far more effective than with older people. However, conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be hard to diagnose and difficult to differentiate from other disorders. UT Arlington (UTA) and Yale researchers led by Dr. Fillia Makedon, Dr. Morris Bell and Dr Vassilis Athitsos are working on a project to evaluate children for various cognitive disorders by having them perform cognitively demanding physical tasks while motion capture technology automatically scores their performance.  Capturing cognition in motion may be much closer to how children function in daily life than are static cognitive tests. It is only now possible to use physical cognitive tasks because of the technological advances being made at UTA.  This work is also part of the iPerform, a NSF-funded Industry-University research center directed by Makedon, that focuses on assistive technologies to enhance human performance. Essentially, the children are asked to perform a series of physical or computer-based tasks which can then be analyzed using software algorithms. There are 32 different physical activities.  For example, one cognitively demanding task is called the “Opposites Game”. Children are asked to do the opposite movement of what the administrator is saying. When the child is asked to touch her hips, she must touch her shoulders, and when she is told to touch her shoulders, she should touch her hips instead.  Such a task requires self-regulation and working memory, important components of executive functioning.  The child’s movements are recorded using motion capture software, with each video frame then analyzed using specialized algorithms which are continually refined using machine learning to spot patterns of behavior and assess how the child processes and acts on each set of instructions. The resulting data gives a far quicker indication of whether the child has a diagnosable condition like ADHD. “Our mission is to innovate human performance and safety, produce assistive technologies and services, and to promote iPerform’s industry members, researchers, and students." Dr. Fillia Makedon & Dr. Ovidiu Daescu - iPerform Directors Oracle Startup for Higher Education gave iPerform $100k of cloud credits to accelerate research projects like this one. Dr Athitsos is using his project’s cloud credits to examine how much faster they can train their algorithms for analyzing the massive amount of data being captured as well as demonstrate how they can save money by using the elastic nature of the cloud to grow or shrink their computing capacity on demand. Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure can also provide a highly secure, HIPAA-compliant way for the UT Arlington and Yale scientists to more easily share project data in the future. Two birds with one stone, so to speak.  "From supporting scientific research and experimentation, to applying research results in creating a product, to enabling entrepreneurs to bring the product to market, Oracle Startup for Higher Education aims to play an active role in this journey, with the ultimate goal of helping to deliver solutions that positively impact the human experience and our world at large." Jenny Tsai-Smith - Vice President,Oracle Startup for Higher Education The work by the Athitsos and Makedon team will be considered a breakthrough in the field of neurocognitive analysis and diagnosis and has potential for these innovations to be developed into future applications. What they’re learning could also be of great help to any technology involving automated motion detection and analysis, such as security or other scientific applications.

                    The combination of Oracle’s advanced technology, free Oracle cloud credits (yes…free!) and leading researchers is delivering a project to evaluate children for various cognitive disorders....

Education and Research

Vocado with Student Cloud Supports the next Generation of Student Success

        Financial aid matters to student success Few things are as exciting as the decision to pursue higher education. Evaluating programs, talking with admissions counselors, and perhaps even taking a tour across an ivy-covered campus.  It is an investment in the future!  However, it is also one of the largest financial investments a growing number of students will make over their lifetimes.  In the US, the average cost per year – tuition, fees, and room & board – is $16,188 for a public institution and $41,970 for a private one.  Assuming 4 years to complete a bachelor’s degree and the total cost is $64,752 and $167,880 respectively.  At these levels, it is not surprising that 80% of traditional undergraduates receive some sort of financial aid, totaling nearly $250 billion each year. While state, federal, institutional, and other community financial aid programs have improved the accessibility of higher education, half of eligible students choose not to further their education for financial reasons and of those that do, but drop out, 47% cite similar reasons for not completing their degree. The bottom line?  Financial aid matters to student success. It is not an easy fix Administering financial aid is incredibly complicated.  The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) estimates that the cost of compliance with US Federal regulations represents roughly $27bn annually and that 50% of institutions reported it as largest contributor to a resource shortage in their financial aid offices over the last year. Failing to adhere to federal and state regulations has far-reaching implications, including becoming ineligible to participate in financial aid programs, which would be a catastrophic outcome for nearly all colleges and universities.  Unfortunately, however, the high-stakes nature of compliance makes it difficult for counselors to shepherd students through the process as closely as they would prefer or to financial aid with academic advisement in meaningful ways.  There simply isn’t enough time. Taking a new path Given the critical importance of financial aid to student success, Oracle decided to make a major investment to bring bold, innovative, and complete capabilities to institutions in this area and to do it far earlier in the maturity of our Student Cloud solution.  Financial aid matters, and thus mature capabilities shouldn’t be at the far, right corner of an SIS product roadmap.  Earlier this month we announced our acquisition of Vocado, which The Tambellini Group cited as a "game changer" for higher education.  The authoring analyst, Mary Beth Cahill, wrote, “With Oracle accelerating its Student Cloud general availability timeline, those institutions looking to replace their legacy SIS will now have another viable choice in the near term…”  Certainly, advancing the maturity of Student Cloud is a priority, but it is also about shifting the paradigm for financial aid solutions in important ways. Vocado, which will be rebranded as Oracle Student Financial Planning, brings unprecedented automation, transparency, and configurability to the financial aid process.  An institution currently using the solution achieved a 93% reduction in overall processing time per student, a 50% increase in responsible borrowing by students, and 24% financial aid-related improvement in student satisfaction.  Vocado had a material impact on the ability of this institution to support students across the lifecycle more effectively and ultimately put a well-earned diploma in their hands. While Vocado is a core component of our Student Cloud, institutions can also implement it as a stand-alone solution regardless of their current student information system.  Oracle is deeply committed to delivering a practical path to the cloud, where institutions can choose when and how they migrate applications. I hope that you will join us for a webinar on June 19, where we will discuss how institutions can leverage financial aid more effectively to drive student success and demo the Vocado solution.  And if you are attending the upcoming NAFSAA Annual Conference, we are a Platinum Sponsor, so please check out our sessions and exhibit hall booth (#441) - we would love to see you!

        Financial aid matters to student success Few things are as exciting as the decision to pursue higher education. Evaluating programs, talking with admissions counselors, and perhaps even taking a...

Bridging. Innovating. Engaging. Evolving…Coming of Age.

No, I haven’t gone into overdrive with the thesaurus function! Although it might look like that from the eclectic mix of verbs in the blog title. This is in fact a mash-up of the themes of three conferences – one in the recent past and two coming-up at the beginning of June: EUNIS Rectors’ Conference, in Porto, April 26-28 EUNIS Congress, in Paris, June 5-8 Future Edtech Conference, in London, June 12-13 I am delighted that Oracle is one of the main sponsors and supporters at each of these key events. There are so many opportunities and threats facing education and research institutions. However, by attending these conferences, we hear different perspectives, needs and requirements. It helps us shape and identify how Oracle solutions can support institutions in their endeavours. Solutions for the entire student and research lifecycle. Presidents in Porto If my memory serves me correctly, there were 29 countries represented at the bi-annual EUNIS Rectors’ Conference. Furthermore, although the ‘E’ of EUNIS represents the word ‘European’, there were representatives from Angola, East Timor and the USA. Probably some other far-away places too. This all adds to the rich tapestry of perspectives. I had some very interesting conversations with many Rectors and Presidents from a wide-variety of countries. Some of the challenges and opportunities were common across all regions. Some were very different. What a privilege it was to listen to Carlos Moedas - the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation. He made a very good point that any research should be undertaken with a very clear mission and that students should be given the space and opportunity to explore and investigate. It was inspiring and slightly tear-jerking (happy tears) listening to and speaking with Dr Paul J. LeBlanc - President at Southern New Hampshire University. They launched a major initiative to bring university degrees to refugees in the U.S. and around the world. The first pilot, in Rwanda, was a success and now they are planning further projects in many other countries. I enjoyed listening to Dr John O'Brien – President and CEO of EDCAUSE – talk about how technology got us ‘here’ but it is people and processes that will get us ‘there’. Collaboration is paramount; I couldn’t agree more John. I had fun getting to know John better at the wonderful gala dinner, where port and great wine were in plentiful supply. Well, we were in Porto after all! We wrapped-up with an insightful keynote from Professor Ronald Barnett - Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at University College London, Institute of Education. Ronald unpicked whether ‘the university’ can survive. The conclusion was – yes – but it requires a quite new understanding of leadership which comprehends the difficulties, and imaginatively sees the possibilities. I could have a paragraph for each the fascinating conversations with the highly respected Presidents and Rectors’ at this event. I learned a great-deal from speaking to each and every one; whether they were from Finland, Portugal, Poland, Serbia, Norway, Czech Republic, France, Denmark, Germany, etc. Paris next, then London So whilst the European Presidents return to their institutions, it’s the turn of the IT Leadership to meet in Paris, in early June, at the annual EUNIS Congress. As it is in Paris – lovely environs and easy to get to for most – the organisers expect a bumper turn-out, from about 30 countries. I am delighted that Oracle is a platinum sponsor and even more delighted that the second keynote will be delivered by Nicole Engelbert. Nicole is a very engaging and insightful speaker, with in-depth knowledge of the industry, acquired throughout her career. I am thrilled that she is making the trip over to Europe to support this conference. Thank you, Nicole. Nicole doesn’t stop there and neither does Oracle! The following week we will attend the Future Edtech conference in London. This conference attracts attendees from all over the world. Now what’s interesting for Nicole is that for the last few years Nicole has been the driving force and host of Future Edtech, when she worked at Ovum. This year, she returns with an Oracle badge, having joined us in January. Nicole will introduce a keynote session delivered by Tahir Yousaf. Tahir is helping to lead the transformational change at Birmingham City University. He will talk about the transformation and how Oracle Cloud solutions are fundamentally supporting it. Tahir is a first-class speaker and very entertaining. I promise you will learn, and laugh, a lot. So, if you are reading this and are not already firmly committed to other things in early-mid June, I highly encourage you to consider joining us in Paris and London. You won’t be disappointed!

No, I haven’t gone into overdrive with the thesaurus function! Although it might look like that from the eclectic mix of verbs in the blog title. This is in fact a mash-up of the themes of three...

Learning to Adapt to a New Higher Education Environment

  A university’s primary mission is to provide students with a quality education. Doing that requires high-quality faculty members. Human resources (HR) departments in higher education institutions today face a big hurdle when it comes to hiring and keeping faculty: They’re hamstrung by outdated tools and systems. When potential recruits attempt to explore possible faculty positions, they too often run directly into an old-school experience that can discourage them from persisting through the process. The Changing Face of Higher Education The traditional higher education experience has become increasingly uncommon. Institutions are shifting away from set curricula and time-bound degrees taught by traditional, tenured staff. Today you find more continuing education programs, typically taught by adjunct faculty, who practice in the fields in which they teach. These professionals expect to see the same type of technology-enabled conveniences and services offered by their organizations’ HR departments. They are often disappointed. Institutions are beginning to overcome these problems and improve faculty hiring and retention through cloud-based human capital management (HCM) systems. These systems bring all the common benefits of cloud-based solutions, including streamlined IT infrastructure and resource requirements, scalability, access from anywhere, and greater flexibility. Cloud solutions focused on higher education add other benefits unique to this market’s needs, including the ability to support emerging revenue streams in the industry. Furthermore, the ability to integrate multiple HR activities, including recruiting, benefits, and staff development, simplifies processes and provides faculty with a personalized and seamless experience. New Generation Needs, New Generation Solutions As millennials’ share of the job market continues to grow, colleges and universities need to do a better job of attracting them to teaching positions. Legacy HR recruiting and onboarding applications are ill-suited to meet their needs, whereas cloud-based HCM systems include the social and mobile tools seen as requisites by the current generation of faculty recruits. Potential faculty members can, for example, complete the entire application process through their mobile devices. Once on staff, they can continue to rely on mobile interfaces for routine transactional tasks like checking their vacation balance or exploring other roles within the institution. Cloud-based HCM systems open new channels, like chatbots, that provide a faster and more convenient way to complete these interactions and reduce demands on HR staff. The cloud also supports retention efforts. Through communication and collaboration tools, faculty become strongly connected to the institution, their peers, and their students—a particularly important function with so many adjunct faculty. Cloud-based HR systems also provide a delivery channel for comprehensive development tools, customized to faculty members’ personal- and career-development aspirations. The current generation of cloud HCM systems provide advanced capabilities that are creating better experiences for managers, employees, and students at many institutions. For instance, adaptive intelligence capabilities can identify strong candidates for open positions from within the current faculty, based on their skills, performance, and interests. Adaptive intelligence can also identify faculty members who are likely to leave the institution. Vanderbilt University recently embarked on a transition to Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud, with the goal of modernizing business processes for its more than 6,000 employees and 3,000 student workers. The transition will provide Vanderbilt with integrating apps for a streamlined user experience and data management. Vanderbilt will also benefit from the twice-yearly updates and enhancements to Oracle’s HCM and ERP platforms, giving the university automatic access to continuous innovation. Kentucky State University relies on the same two systems—Oracle HCM Cloud and Oracle ERP Cloud—for insights to support its operational needs. Employees now have clearer visibility into financial, procurement, and grant information, as well as access to new self-service channels—which, in turn, help faculty and staff deliver a better student experience. Retooling Higher Education HR Systems With modern, cloud-based HCM system, HR teams can make an important shift: They can move away from seeing faculty as employees to be managed and toward seeing faculty as customers with needs and expectations that must be met over the complete span of their careers. HR teams in higher education now have the tools to find, grow, and retain the best talent; enable collaboration; provide complete workforce insights; increase operational efficiency; and make it easy for everyone to connect on any device. As higher education institutions continue to evolve to meet the needs of their faculty and students, while achieving their admissions and operational goals, they are increasingly relying on more flexible and agile cloud-based solutions.

  A university’s primary mission is to provide students with a quality education. Doing that requires high-quality faculty members. Human resources (HR) departments in higher education institutions...

Celebrating New Beginnings and Recognizing Exceptional Contributions

I recently spent a week in Salt Lake City with more than 3,500 customers and over 100 partners from around the world at the annual Higher Education User Group Alliance Conference. What a difference a year makes. This Alliance conference was a buzz with cloud this year, where last year customers were concerned with the long term viability of their on-premise technology investments. With 3 times more cloud sessions and 5 times more cloud session attendees, cloud adoption is on the horizon for our customers. We continue to make it easier for education and research to innovate with the latest technologies such as chatbot, adaptive intelligence, and autonomous database. The anxiety of change has subsided as our customers have embraced our modern best practices to map their journey to a modern campus ranging from cloud at customer to full SaaS and PaaS deployments. One of the greatest benefits of the Higher Education User Group is members sharing their successes with other members. Hear from and read about cloud customers like Konyang University and University of Western Australia about their path to the cloud and how it is helping to enhance learning and student experiences at their universities.  Also, watch this video to learn how Penn State University Researchers turn to Oracle's higher performance computing (HPC) on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. As more and more institutions are making their journey to the cloud, Oracle is here to help.  Join us on Wednesday April 11th to learn how to Transform Your Campus: Finance and HR Together in the Cloud. During this webinar, we will review specific case studies and how Oracle ERP and HCM Cloud customers are leveraging emerging technologies like adaptive intelligence (AI) and predictive analytics to achieve even greater results on campus. The Higher Education User Group is a wonderful group that has helped us to get better connected with you and there is probably no one in the Higher Education User Group community that demonstrates that collaboration more than Lew Conner. Lew has been a staple of the Higher Education User Group for over 20 years. On behalf of Oracle, I would like to thank Lew Conner for his many years of service and outstanding contributions to the Higher Education community.  

I recently spent a week in Salt Lake City with more than 3,500 customers and over 100 partners from around the world at the annual Higher Education User Group Alliance Conference. What a difference a...

Oracle Education and Research

Big Data - How can we succeed?

Data. It’s big. It’s getting bigger. In fact, it’s growing exponentially. It’s produced by more and more people. It’s created by an increasing number of things – commonly called devices. It is becoming more varied and more unstructured. About 5 years ago someone said 90% of the world’s data had been generated in the previous 2 years. That’s astonishing. So, how do we keep-up? Can we indeed keep-up? Can we make use of this data? Are we deriving insights from the data? I have lots of questions and I cannot profess to have all of the answers. Nevertheless, recent advances in technology appear to be paving the way. Big Data in Research Data is critical to all organisations, but to varying degrees. Think about the research industry though. The ability to efficiently collect, manage and analyse data is critical. Accelerating scientific discovery is not only dependant on researchers with brains the size-of-planets. There is also a clear dependency on enabling researchers to easily and efficiently access all required technology tools and infrastructure. In my previous role, I worked at one of the world’s leading research intensive universities - Imperial College London. There I had the privilege of interacting with many researchers. Before this I had some semblance of the technology researchers need, but the reality was far greater. Every academic department and research group had significantly more data and more technology needs than I envisaged. I knew that would be the case in Medicine, with techniques such as genome sequencing producing an eye-watering amount of data. However, I also saw this across all of the engineering disciplines from aeronautics to mechanical, the Natural Sciences disciplines and even the Business School. Big Data at CERN In the research world, big data really is big; none more so than at CERN. The volume of data produced and the scale of analysis at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are astounding. 40 petabytes was produced by the LHC experiments in 2017. Within the LHC, there are up to 1 billion particle collisions per second (yes, per second!) that are filtered down to approximately 100,000 and sent for digital reconstruction. More detailed algorithms whittle this down to around 100 ‘events of interest’ per second. Now that’s big data discovery and analysis in action. When people ask which customers use Oracle Big Data technology, I always cite CERN and not surprisingly, no further examples are requested.    Storing Data Storing research data is a major challenge, particularly as the capacity needs fluctuate considerably over the lifetime of the project, and beyond. Yes, storage costs are declining but the volume of data is anything-but. Managing a datacentre must be a headache for organisations now, but imagine the migraine in 5-10 years’ time. Cloud storage is the only way to go, surely. Yes, there will be some data that organisations will not, under any circumstances, allow to be stored off-site. Yes, there are data-residency regulations requiring that all data be stored within the country, or region. However, cloud companies like Oracle are providing the flexibility to meet these requirements. For example: Oracle is opening 12 new datacentre regions, across Asia, Europe and the Americas. Oracle Cloud at Customer delivers Oracle Cloud services in your data centre. Deriving Insights Storing the data is one thing, but data is only helpful if you can effectively derive insights from it. With all this data, how do we go about making sense of all the data and finding out what’s useful. After-all, big decisions and big discoveries are derived from data. Humans can’t keep-up, so various technologies play a key role; including machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). These tools enable insights to be derived automatically. Data scientists fine-tune algorithms to optimise the analysis and insights derived from data. Nowadays though, ML and AI help them focus their time and expertise on specific data and insights that really accelerate discoveries. Advances in autonomous cloud services are a giant leap-forward. Oracle is applying AI and ML to its entire next-generation Cloud Platform services. Oracle’s Autonomous Database was introduced at OpenWorld. However Oracle recently announced autonomous capabilities for many other Cloud Platform services – including analytics - are scheduled to be available in the next 12 months. Self-driving, self-securing and self-repairing. Surviving and Thriving So, the 5 V’s of data - volume, variety, velocity, veracity and value – are on the increase, big time. More and more devices are doing more and more things. It’s becoming easier to create and publish content. Discovery and innovation are critical in a world with so many threats and opportunities. I could continue this list, but I’m sure you get the picture, so let me stop there. After all, I don’t want to be guilty of creating more data than is necessary! So, data is here to stay and set to increase; what we do with it, is critical. Cloud technologies for storage, compute and analysis are paramount. Furthermore, if these technologies are embedded with machine learning and artificial intelligence; the greater our chances of surviving and indeed thriving, in the deluge.

Data. It’s big. It’s getting bigger. In fact, it’s growing exponentially. It’s produced by more and more people. It’s created by an increasing number of things – commonly called devices. It...

Student Success Should Be Ubiquitous

  Student success is now the focus of every institution and student success initiatives and programs are being implemented across many departments.  This landscape is getting cluttered and confusing to the point that the #2 issue of the 2018 EduCause Top 10 IT Issues is “Managing the system implementations and integrations that support multiple student success initiatives.” Student Success should be an enterprise wide coordinated focus to build with every student experience and touch.  In short it should be ubiquitous. We recently delivered a web conference to over 230 attendees highlighting the delivered and future capabilities of Oracle Student Cloud.  The key take away is that every touch, activity and experience will be supporting the success of the individual student/learner.  Student Cloud is delivering this by combining and harmonizing multiple capabilities such as embedded analytics, artificial intelligence, nurturing, termless enrollment and open credentials.  Students and customers have been providing guidance about the student experience expectations today and in the future.  These insights have guided the continual evolution of the Oracle Student Cloud solutions are readily apparent in both the current release and the future direction.  To learn more, view the replay of this webinar. If you happen to be in Chicago in April, join us at Oracle Modern Customer Experience, April 10-12 in Chicago, IL.  Gain inspiration and fresh ideas from over 300 customer speakers and product experts, and unforgettable customer experiences.  We hope to see you there!    

  Student success is now the focus of every institution and student success initiatives and programs are being implemented across many departments.  This landscape is getting cluttered and confusing to...

Oracle Education and Research

Join our Blockchain Revolution

Join our Blockchain Revolution The last time this happened me was when I walked into one of our conference rooms at Sun where a student from the University of Illinois was giving a demo of something called "Mosaic". Well, we all know how that one turned out with the new metaphor of the browser and web radically changing the way we communicate, learn and do business. Recently, I got the same feeling after looking into use cases in education for our upcoming Blockchain Cloud Service offering at the BlockchainConnectSF conference. I felt the same energy in the room where both technical and creative people were talking in an entire new language about thetrust protocol, ICOs, Miners and Exchanges all of which just happens to be only 8 years old and mysteriously invented by someone by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. After a few months of checking out the scence I thought I'd highlight just a few of the ways Blockchain could potentially be the next big thing in edtech transformation and finally fix the one thing the World Wide Web was never inherently designed to do (Hint: On the internet know one knows you're a dog). Distributed Trust. And, as Marc has said this time around, "the blockchain is one of the most fundamental inventions in the history of computer science". So, while Bitcoin is the first killer app transforming commerce here are the key areas where our efforts are focused today in education and research: Transformational Use Cases Student Records and Distributed Credentialing Trusted Peer-to-Peer Payments and Smart Contracts Digital Content and Rights Management and the future of publishing, libraries and archives Learning Marketplaces - Anyone can learn anything in a token-based knowledge exchange. Learn to Earn as envisioned by Jane McGonigal at the Institute for the Future and famous talk at SXSWedu. Check out new example ICO's like LiveEDU,  ODEM and Bitdegree. Academics and Coursework: Interdisciplinary is the new norm for the gig economy and schools are modernizing curriculum and offering new Blockchain certifications combining Law, Business, Economics and Computer Sciences. Check out the great work Adam is doing for example with the new certificate program at the Berkeley Center for Law and Business and bringing our Cloud into the classroom. Student Developers and Startups: They are taking charge of their own destiny and creating their own communities and even companies at the epicenter of innovation. Oracle and our partner Aurablocks are helping to bridge the chasm between transforming industries like Financial Services and Education with our sponsorship of the upcoming Carolina FinTech Blockchain Hackathon and the #generationblockchainchallenge. Student startup initiatives are now open for business at places like Blockchain@Berkeley, Cornell, MIT Digital Currency Initiative and innovative Community Colleges like Central New Mexico. Be sure to check out Oracle's new Startup Cloud Accelerator Program looking to help lower the barriers to innovation and foster industry adoption. Open Source - Oracle Autonomous Blockchain Cloud Service is based on the Hyperledger Fabric governed by the well respected Linux Foundation. A perfect technology fit for Education as an industry used to transparency and shared innovation.  So, what's coming up next? We'll be at the Alliance HEUG Conference in Salt Lake City presenting and meeting with customers & partners at the end of March. Oracle is launching our Blockchain Autonomous Cloud Service this summer and we are hard at work with our interactive discovery workshops to  explore use cases in academia, proof-of-concept and pioneering implementations. My friend Mark lays out the enterprise story  and as he said to a customer the other day on a briefing call, "Everything is there pre-built for you. It's like buying a car. You just get in and drive".  So, let me know at kevin.roebuck@oracle.com if you want take a test drive!

Join our Blockchain Revolution The last time this happened me was when I walked into one of our conference rooms at Sun where a student from the University of Illinois was giving a demo of something...

Education and Research

An Inspired Leap to Oracle Higher Education

First, I want to thank the entire Oracle community for its warm welcome and to all my colleagues in the higher education industry who have extended congratulations and well wishes. One of the questions I have been asked in many of these exchanges has been, "Okay, so why Oracle?"  It wasn't a decision that I took lightly, so I thought I would shed a bit of light on why. Change is accelerating for higher education & technology There is a profound business model change on the horizon for higher education.  It is in response to a myriad of macro and micro factors, not least of which are rapidly changing student expectations, intensifying cost constraints, and growing economic volatility.  Policy analysts will look back on this period a decade from now and speak of it as the time higher education took a pivot and where some institutions flourished and others failed. It is not just the emergence of transformational technology such as IoT, connectivity (5G), and AI, but also the model by which it is delivered (cloud) and the speed at which innovation with it is occurring.  Innovation and disruption cycles are happening more frequently and with greater impact.  I have seen other periods of technology-led disruption, there is something different this time, perhaps it is a watershed moment where technology finally moves from other, to extension, to indistinguishable from the human experience? A calling to take the leap Earlier in my career, I left a great position as the associate dean of a small business college in New York.  It was gratifying work, making a real difference with first-generation college students.  However, it was the dot-com era and I could see that technology would/could have a profound impact on the delivery of instruction and institutional operations.  But I wouldn’t see the bleeding edge from within the institution, I needed to go out and immerse myself in the “possible” – it was a terrifying leap, but I spent 4 years at an online test preparation company and it radically changed the course of my career. Once again, I found myself in a similar position.  The last decade has been spent advising institutions on their IT strategy at Ovum.  It was deeply satisfying and intellectually engaging work.  But given what is happening in higher education and technology today, once again I felt the pull to make a change, to get closer to what is happening and shape how higher education will use technology to transform itself. Where to leap? The question became for me from where could I have the most impact?  I’m a researcher by training, so I set out a list of characteristics. Deep technical expertise and commitment to R&D The rate of technological change is staggering.  Institutions will need partners that bring far more than sparkling features and functionality – they will need a robust, constantly evolving stack.  Oracle’s investments in R&D are massive and the fruits of those efforts are displayed across the IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS solution suites.  This also gets into unanswered security and privacy questions and I wanted to be at a place where the full force of the organization was committed to addressing them in a proactive, sustainable way. A commitment to higher education Yes, Oracle is enormous and supports some of the largest and most complex enterprises in the world.  But education is an important industry to the firm.  The opening of Design Tech High School is certainly evidence of this, but one cannot overlook that Oracle has higher education customers on nearly every continent (not Antarctica!) and this footprint has grown steadily over the last decade.  Not just with Campus Solutions, but with Oracle’s full suite of solutions, from infrastructure all the way through enterprise applications such as ERP, HCM, and CX as well.  Growth is often an undervalued characteristic when selecting a solution provider. But growth brings resources, which benefit institutions through better solutions & services.  Over the last year, the higher education team at Oracle has grown substantially.  In fact, my own role is an investment rather than a replacement position. I should also note that Oracle has an impressive record regarding women in leadership.  Safra Catz has blazed an historic path.  Moreover, when I look around the table on the higher education development team, Vivian Wong, Susan Beidler, Yvonne Baur, Cat Boroff, and Melissa Gena offer incredible role models of what women in tech can and should be. A vision and tactical capability to bring technological innovation to higher education Many firms that have solid technology, higher education expertise, and deliver value to institutions, but to leave a job I love, I needed to know that it would drive real transformation. Over the last 18 months, Oracle has launched a development effort to bring an entirely new student system to market – Student Cloud.  Continuing education and recruitment are available now, with significant releases later in the year.  Watching its accelerating progress and paradigm-shifting vision inspired me to take the leap!  If you would like to be part of a conversation on how we can transform higher education together, please reach out via Twitter or LinkedIn and of course follow our progress with Student Cloud.  

First, I want to thank the entire Oracle community for its warm welcome and to all my colleagues in the higher education industry who have extended congratulations and well wishes. One of the questions...

Education and Research

The Disruption in Higher Education Continues - Are You Positioned to Meet the Challenge?

The disruption of the business model in Higher Education continues at a rapid pace and is driven by a variety of factors. Schools continue to face funding shortages, and funds are increasingly tied to student performance rather than the old metric of attendance. Tuitions are rising, so students are scrutinizing the value of their degree more carefully. The modernization of the consumer experience has changed expectations of how faculty, staff and students interact and transact on campus. And new learning technologies and companies are challenging long established belief that a quality education only comes from earning a degree at a traditional 2-year or 4-year college. Meeting these challenges requires a complete overhaul of IT infrastructure to leverage the modern technologies required to create the university of the future.  It is no surprise that campus leaders are looking to cloud to replace outdated systems, and particularly to cloud providers that offer a complete, integrated suite of applications, platform and infrastructure to improve business processes, lower costs, provide critical insights, and engage faculty, staff and students. One example of this transformation in action is Pittsburg State, an institution located in southeast Kansas with 7,000 students and 850 faculty and staff.  Learn how their implementation of Oracle will help them improve operational excellence, reduce costs and provide a scalable, flexible platform needed to modernize their campus. Click here to learn how Oracle is transforming Education and Research. We also invite you to join us at  Alliance 2018, March 25-28, in Salt Lake City, UT.

The disruption of the business model in Higher Education continues at a rapid pace and is driven by a variety of factors. Schools continue to face funding shortages, and funds are increasingly tied to...

Get Out of the Business of Running Infrastructure

Colleges and Universities are dependent on their administrative systems to run their Institutions – from recruiting students, faculty, and staff to alumni relations and everything in between – applications from Oracle and from Oracle partners run the business of higher education for thousands of institutions and millions of students! I hear from many CIO's that “we need to spend less time running applications and more time differentiating our institution to be competitive”. As a former Higher Education CIO, I was responsible for a number of implementations and data center consolidation projects. I focused my time on transforming IT to support the mission of the university. I was always looking for opportunities to get out of the business of running infrastructure.  As institutions look to their future in a SaaS based world – they need an option today to run their current applications on their path to the cloud. The Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and Oracle Cloud Platform provide the stepping stones along the path to the cloud.   Any on-premise applications you depend on today from PeopleSoft, Ellucian, SAP or the myriad of applications supporting facilities, housing, reporting – any of these workloads can be moved to the Oracle Cloud. With agile, scalable and cost-effective cloud services, institutions are adopting Oracle’s Cloud in the way that fits their campus IT strategy and path to cloud: Some institutions have adopted a strategy of running development and test in Oracle’s Cloud Platform – the ability to quickly spin up an environment to test new application features and upgrades can drastically shorten project timelines. See the University of New South Wales story Other institutions are on a path to running not only development and test, but production applications in the Oracle Cloud Platform and Infrastructure. The Tambellini group recently blogged about the potential for Ellucian Banner customers to run in Oracle’s Cloud – an option that numerous campuses are evaluating and planning for today. Still other institutions are taking advantage of the unique capabilities oracle offers with our Cloud@Customer solution. You can subscribe to Oracle Cloud services and Oracle can put a part of its cloud in your own data center – to meet data residency or other requirements for your campus and constituents. See The State University of New York press release about their adoption of the Oracle Cloud Machine. For all of our PeopleSoft higher education customers – did you know PeopleSoft runs better on Oracle Cloud than on Amazon AWS? Learn about the advantages of running your PeopleSoft applications today on Oracle’s Cloud as part of our integrated set of cloud services! As your campus develops and evolves its IT strategy to meet today’s demands – and looks to build a path to the cloud – consider the Oracle Cloud Platform and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to be your solution to move on premise applications to the cloud.    

Colleges and Universities are dependent on their administrative systems to run their Institutions – from recruiting students, faculty, and staff to alumni relations and everything in between...

Education and Research

The Education Industry Will Lead Technology Innovation

When I started my career in the education industry over 20 years ago, colleges and universities were leading innovators in the use of technology. Since that time, the education industry has fallen behind in its use of technology. The education industry is being forced to shift focus to leveraging technology and innovating to support strategic initiatives. At the start of the New Year, I was reflecting on 2017 and thinking about the future of technology in Education and Research. I can't believe the education industry is still talking about digital transformation. This has been a topic in the industry for the same 20 year period that the industry was lagging on the use of technology, so it makes sense why the education industry is still focused on digital transformation. What started with email, portals, and online learning has transcended to blockchain, chatbots, and artificial intelligence. So what can we expect from technology in 2018 and beyond? We will see most major educational institutions kick off an initiative with these technologies to reduce costs, improve student experience, or support research. See Oracle's cloud predictions for 2018. We have an exciting and interesting year ahead as colleges and universities around the world get back into leading technology innovation to improve student and administrative systems, accelerate research, and personalize the student experience. Learn how colleges and universities can use blockchain to secure research data and verify student information. Intelligent bots will improve the student experience through conversational interfaces to a broad range of services and information. Hear how we have incorporated these technologies into our Student Cloud to deliver a personalized student experience.     

When I started my career in the education industry over 20 years ago, colleges and universities were leading innovators in the use of technology. Since that time, the education industry has...

Education and Research

It’s all about partnerships, in Education & Research

Oracle engages in numerous partnerships across all industries - at least 25,000 according to the latest version of the Oracle Fact Sheet. Partnerships with customers, partnerships with industry organisations, philanthropic partnerships and so on. However collaborating and partnering in the Education and Research industry is of paramount importance. In my mind, there is no other way. Surely one of THE MOST inspiring partnerships Oracle is currently engaged in is the BLOODHOUND project. On the face of it, one would think this is just about Oracle supporting the endeavour to build a car capable of travelling at 1,000mph, and thereby set a new land-speed record. But, it’s much more significant than that. As announced recently, it’s about inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. Helping students build critical engineering knowledge, data analysis, and programming skills. Equipping them with the competences they and the world need today and certainly tomorrow. Watch this and be inspired! I am delighted that Oracle recently became a partner of HEPI – the Higher Education Policy Institute. As the UK's only independent think tank devoted to higher education, HEPI are highly regarded as the go-to organisation for views on higher education policy. Their publications, blogs, media-work and events are frequented and cited by politicians, the media and the leading officials within higher education institutions. The partnership provides privileged access to HEPI’s high quality information and advice, as well as opportunities to engage directly with key people throughout the industry. We are kept abreast of the most significant changes in the HE sector, in Britain and abroad; we participate in stimulating discussions with key players, and can suggest topics for future research and debate. One of the ways we partner with our customers is through the Oracle Education and Research Industry Strategy Council. The Council met earlier this month and you can read all about it in a recent blog by Keith Rajecki, Senior Director, Education and Research Industry Solutions at Oracle. In my opinion this was the most interesting and valuable Strategy Council meeting I have attended. Oracle and the customers gained an enormous amount of high quality insight; from the presentations, discussions and interactions. I wanted to finish by mentioning four other organisations that Oracle enjoys a close partnership with and are fresh in my mind having attended recent conferences: HEUG (Higher Education User Group) is the largest independent user group that Oracle works in partnership with. They have over 32,000 members from Higher Education institutions across the world. The partnership stretches back over 20 years and the close collaboration provides an invaluable set of interactions between Oracle, the institutions and IT partner organisations. When I worked at Imperial College London, I participated in many conferences, I chaired two of the product advisory groups and I saw first-hand the significant benefits of being involved with the HEUG. We look forward to the next Alliance conference, 25-28 March and continuing the great collaboration. EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association and the largest community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. Oracle has been a long-time member and one of the main sponsors of their annual conference; the 2017 edition didn’t disappoint. Here’s a quick recap by Keith Rajecki. Oracle has been a Gold member of EUNIS (European University Information Systems) for many years. EUNIS, provides a forum for interaction between universities across Europe. Oracle is a loyal supporter of their Annual Congress and in 2018 we are proud to also be a Gold Sponsor of the EUNIS Rectors’ Conference, in Portugal. UCISA (Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association) - UCISA is a member-led, open, impartial and representative association for higher and further education institutions in the UK and Ireland. I often describe them as the glue between technology partners - like Oracle - and the educational institutions. Oracle has long-since been a corporate member and a regular fixture at their conferences; providing a valuable opportunity to hear from and speak with many institutions about the sector. Through these partnerships – the publications, events and interactions – the Oracle Education and Research teams gain critical knowledge and contacts within the sector. This significantly assists us to understand and articulate the industry challenges and opportunities; thereby helping to shape the Oracle solutions that support the strategy of so many institutions, worldwide. There are many more partnerships I could discuss, but these are top of mind and long may they continue!

Oracle engages in numerous partnerships across all industries - at least 25,000 according to the latest version of the Oracle Fact Sheet. Partnerships with customers, partnerships with industry...

Enabling Research Without Boundaries

Many people associate higher education with the traditional aspects of learning and teaching. At its core, students attend classes and lectures, carry out projects in labs, and participate in practicums, enabled by a vast university IT infrastructure.   However, there is another, less visible component of academia – the research arm – that requires a more massive and synchronized network of computing power. At more than $68B, the annual U.S. expenditures on university research far outstrip student tuition and fees revenue. However, spending for research and development is concentrated among the top 20 schools, accounting for more than 30% of all research expenditures, according to data from the National Science Foundation.  Research, by its very nature, positions universities on the leading edge, with technology an integral partner in the drive to solve some of the world’s most critical issues. With the recent advancements in cloud computing capabilities, the fundamentals of research are changing.  Historically, researchers leveraged computing power in two ways: The data center: a centralized, pooled capacity requiring massive capital investment and skilled personnel. Often, the hardware becomes obsolete months after installation. Local commodity servers: stand-alone machines stuck under a desk or in a closet. These servers lack the computing power, scale and security required for research. Today, advances in the cloud computing service model and capabilities are disrupting the underlying tools of research by introducing near-infinite scale and bursting capabilities, allowing researchers to collaborate globally, while anonymizing data as necessary. At the same time, researchers can gain enhanced security, control and governance while taking advantage of the power of Big Data, culling key results from a vast array of disparate data sources and using the power of predictive analytics to create new insights previously not possible. With more than 11,000 higher education customers, Oracle is a longtime partner to the industry. Our Higher Education Enterprise Cloud, offering a complete stack of SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS capabilities, is perfectly suited for scale-based research. Penn State University’s Institute for CyberScience (ICS) has successfully prototyped the use of Oracle’s cloud-based infrastructure with a hybrid bursting model. The system is designed to give researchers the tools to do what was previously impossible: take advantage of high-capacity computing with virtually unlimited capacity to model highly sophisticated problems, from weather patterns on Mars to the protein production inside our own bodies. “Now that it has proved its worth, we are working to develop our ability to make it available to our faculty,” says ICS technical director Chuck Gilbert. ICS achieved this high performance computing environment by placing workloads on “bare metal,” directly onto a server without hypervisor software to run at full computing speed. “Really, we're talking about nanoseconds and microseconds, and that little bit of jitter can make all the difference in a simulation being correct or not correct,” says Gilbert. “We are literally extending our data center footprint out to the cloud,” he said in a recent article for OracleVoice on Forbes. Technology has always been an important and necessary research driver, from exploring the unseen world of the atom to improving the highly tangible need of solving our world’s food supply. For more than 30 years, Oracle and CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have collaborated on some of the most respected, cutting-edge research performed worldwide. Recently, CERN has worked with Oracle to deploy physics workloads on over 9,500 cores via the Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Compute environment. CERN has also been using Oracle’s data analytics technologies in a reliability assessment study for a potential successor accelerator to the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator. .   And at North Carolina State University, Oracle is working to crack the code on “smart farming” techniques, collecting data from field-based sensors, drones, tractors and other sources to make better decisions about irrigation, fertilizer and weed and pest control solutions. Through collaboration with agriculture and agribusiness leaders as well as university scientists, Oracle is applying expertise in data management, analytics and artificial intelligence to facilitate better crop outcomes in a world of finite resources. There’s no question that this level of high performance computing will continue to improve, opening the door to creative solutions that will impact generations to come. For those institutions who aspire to expand their research capabilities, an investment in high performance computing may be mandatory. This is the new research: a virtual platform that knows no physical boundary. Patrick Mungovan is the group vice president for Oracle Public Sector U.S. Higher Education, Research and Academic Medical Center Technology Sales.    

Many people associate higher education with the traditional aspects of learning and teaching. At its core, students attend classes and lectures, carry out projects in labs, and participate in...

Educause 2017 Recap

The Educause Annual Conference continues to be a great gathering of educators, administrators, and technologists sharing ideas and collaborating to solve some of the most complex problems facing education and research. While "cloud" has certainly become more relevant in the discussion, cloud sessions doubled at the conference this year from last. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and autonomous databases found their way into sessions and discussions throughout the conference. We are just beginning to see how these technologies are going to transform education and research. Artificial intelligence will have a more profound impact on education than the electronic student record and learning management system combined. Institutions need to prepare themselves for these new technologies by first rationalizing their existing IT. Think datacenter consolidation in the cloud. Artificial intelligence, blockchain, chatbots, and virtual reality are all coming to a campus near you. Even if you don’t want it, your students, faculty and staff are beginning to experience these technologies in their everyday lives. Your institutions are developing weekend intensive certificates and degree programs around these technologies to support the next generation of skilled workforce. These technologies will become a game changer for innovation and differentiation at your institution. In addition to making all these technologies available in the Oracle Public Cloud, we have already begun delivering functionality in our HCM Cloud, ERP Cloud, and Student Cloud based on these technologies. We are leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning to modernize and personalize the student journey, improving experience and outcomes. Is your institution prepared to transact with students through chatbots from their mobile device?

The Educause Annual Conference continues to be a great gathering of educators, administrators, and technologists sharing ideas and collaborating to solve some of the most complex problems...

Higher Education

Untangle Your Web of Applications

There are few more challenging industry topologies for integration than a higher education institution. Even more so than a commercial enterprise, a campus is like a small city when it comes to services, infrastructure, data requirements, etc. It has the full scope of HR and financials use cases, coupled with all of the administration and services (often heavily regulated by governmental oversight) of the student lifecycle and learning management, recruiting, marketing and sales, supply chain management. Many institutions even generate and provide their own power and other utilities! And just like in any enterprise, all of the systems that manage all of those business units and processes need to operate together. Seamlessly. (Well, that's the ideal, anyway.) Traditionally, this meant a spider web of point-to-point integrations that connected Application A to Application B, Application A to Application C, Application B to Application C, ad infinitum (and, for campus IT staff, ad nauseum). Whether that is through nightly data loads that replicate and move data between solutions, or more contemporary mechanisms that either move payloads transactionally in real or near-real time or even transiently without replication, exposing data on demand and for the duration it is needed to complete a business process, that translates to a huge, and hugely complex, effort to create and maintain these required interactions. And make no mistake—these interactions are required. Data MUST be able to flow freely across the enterprise. Service level expectations have progressed rapidly in this era of web-based consumer-oriented experiences, and end-users (administrative or student) don't care where the data lives or how it gets from point A to point B, only that they can complete their task quickly and easily. So how do we rationalize and enable the integrated campus ecosystem? Standards are a good place to start. Whether those are technical standards and non-proprietary methodologies like the use of REST or SOAP in service oriented architectures, or industry standards like those from IMS Global and the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC) in the Higher Education space, standards allow us to apply a consistent pattern in integration methodologies, facilitating the ability of all of the solutions in the topology to talk to each other. But a lingua franca opens up the channels, it doesn't untangle the spiderweb. To do that, we need something that gets away from point-to-point integrations, that allows us to "black box" each system while still allowing the free flow of information between them. This is where an interesting new category of solutions comes into play. To the increasingly familiar acronyms SaaS ("software as a service") and PaaS ("platform as a service"), add iPaaS: Integration Platform as a Service. Where PaaS solutions essentially provide development tools, toolkits, and environments in a cloud-based subscription model, iPaaS does the same for integration: it provides a cloud-based solution that shifts deployment and maintenance to the vendor while leveraging increasingly standardized integration methodologies to allow customers to rationalize their integration topology. Oracle's Integration Cloud Service (ICS) is a good example of the growing capability and popularity of iPaaS solutions and how they help simplify the integration challenges on campus by abstracting the artifacts of integration. ICS, for example, starts with the concept of an adapter, essentially a code library that defines in an agnostic fashion an endpoint (independent of any solution it might be used to connect to) for an external solution to talk to ICS and vice-versa. ICS includes general technology adapters, like the delivered REST adapter that simply "understands" REST and therefore can be used to connect ICS to any solution that provides or consumes REST services; this means that any solution that can talk to one of these technology adapters (REST, SOAP, FTP, File, Database, etc.) can play. Or adapters can be "bespoke" or solution specific, whether at a suite level (for example, a Peoplesoft adapter that simply interrogates a Peoplesoft application instance to expose underlying web services/APIs); or at a solution level, like the forthcoming Campus Solutions adapter, which will expose specific business entities and business processes and transactions to allow for an easy, wizard-like experience in defining an integration. These adapters, then, are used to define a "connection," a specific instance (including URL or other deployment-specific information) of an adapter. At its simplest level, this model means that each solution participating in the integration really only needs to be able to talk to ICS; ICS then handles the process of closing the loop between the solutions. (Of course, if you are trying to get Application A to talk to Application B for a particular transaction—say, publishing and mapping some data between the systems—you have to ensure that whatever connector you're using for Application A exposes the data you need for Application B. ICS is powerful, but it's not magic!) ICS closes that loop through an integration or integration workflow. As with most iPaaS solutions, that means a drag and drop visual interface where you select an integration pattern (simple data mapping to service orchestration), select the actions and data mapping you want to occur, and you're ready to go. It's that easy! (Or, it can be—you can also create more complex integrations and use scripting tools if you want to or your requirements demand it). What does this mean for integration on campus? It means that for those 80% or so of integration use cases that are straightforward, like publish/subscribe patterns or simple service orchestrations, ICS can provide the ability for "citizen developers" or non-specialized line of business users to create and maintain integrations, often while dropping the required person-hours to build that integration from weeks to days or even hours, and freeing up senior or specialized IT staff to focus on other mission-critical undertakings. And ICS's cloud deployment model means we may even be able to deliver not just adapters, but actual pre-defined integration workflows, so that all a customer needs to do is define the connection particulars, and the rest is already taken care of. From there they can modify, enhance and extend as their campus ecosystem requires. Delivered, supported integration—that's the goal. Integration on campus has been a challenge from the earliest days of the use of enterprise software. We've made it (mostly!) past the era of printing out a spreadsheet from one application and typing that information into another application. We're making our way through the "nightly batch" phase, and the growth of standards and the introduction of new solution categories means we're actually poised for a generational step forward in making data truly interoperable and transparently portable. Learn more about Oracle's Higher Education solutions. Come see us at the Educause Annual Conference from October 31 to November 3 in Philadelphia, PA.

There are few more challenging industry topologies for integration than a higher education institution. Even more so than a commercial enterprise, a campus is like a small city when it comes to...

Higher Education

Oracle Student Cloud: Leverage Social Insights to Improve Your Student Engagement

According to the Pew Research Center, almost 70% of the American public uses some type of social media. For younger adults the percentages are even higher: 86% of young adults aged 18-29 and 80% of those aged 30-49. And these users are active and vocal; a recent study by Statista estimates that young adults aged 16-24 years old spend almost 200 minutes per day on social media via mobile devices. And we probably all know someone who loves to Tweet or post things to Facebook or online reviews because they want to be heard or because they want a business or service provider to respond to an issue or complaint. That is the power of social media—its ability to provide everyone with a voice and a venue to be heard and to influence others with our opinions, ideas, and concerns. So, do you know what your students and community are saying about your institution on social media? Clearly they are out there and they are talking! Are they praising your academics, instructors, residence halls, and dining options, or are they telling their friends and networks problems they recently had enrolling, or complaining about a recent policy change, or problems in the residence halls, or parking (well of course, everyone complains about parking)? These postings—both good and bad—have potentially enormous impact as they get multiplied by the possible number of viewers. The average Facebook user has 155 friends (and don't kid yourself, Facebook is still highly influential, with over three-quarters of teens and adults using it regularly), and the average Twitter user has over 700 followers! The potential reach of these posting, especially the negative ones, is astronomical. How are you going to manage these? Many Higher Education institutions monitor social media and track the number of "Likes" or the number of "Shares" or "Retweets". But more often than not this is done site-by-site and on an ad hoc basis. But modern institutions need more. They need the ability to view and understand both the content and context of the messages and posts to understand which are real concerns versus simply excitement over last weekend's football game. Oracle Student Engagement provides modern institutions with exactly this ability. With Oracle Student Engagement institutions can: Monitor hundreds of thousands of social sites. Create multiple keyword search topics and refine those results using semantic analysis to filter out "noise" or false hits. Understand the sentiment, location, source, and demographics of social messages and posts and drill into the actual messages and posts to see the exact content. Respond to individual messages and posts via the same media and engage the submitter in a productive dialogue and to resolve any issues or problems they were having. Enhance collaboration across campus by forwarding messages to other campus experts for follow-up with the submitter. The result is a truly new and modern means of engagement with your students and all constituents, via their chosen mode of interaction. Today's modern students have high expectations for how they communicate and interact with each other and with the various organizations and institutions in their lives. And at the same time, the pressure for Higher Education institutions to meet these expectations, to improve student outcomes like retention and graduation rates, and to recruit more and better students has never been greater. Modern institutions can achieve these goals with a new strategy and new tools. Oracle Student Engagement is one of these modern tools institutions need to distinguish themselves by meeting student expectations and improving student engagement. Meet our experts and hear more about Oracle's Higher Education solutions, including Oracle Student Engagement. Come see us at the Educause Annual Conference from October 31 to November 3 in Philadelphia, PA.

According to the Pew Research Center, almost 70% of the American public uses some type of social media. For younger adults the percentages are even higher: 86% of young adults aged 18-29 and 80% of...

See What You Missed in Oracle Student Cloud at OpenWorld

Oracle OpenWorld 2017 was a tremendous event, taking over 4 or 5 city blocks in San Francisco with an estimated 60,000 attendees! If you didn’t make it to San Francisco for this year’s event, you missed out on some great technology updates, customer stories, and networking with your peers and Oracle experts. Here are some of the highlights from our Student Cloud analysts, customers, and Oracle experts. It’s a Win for Shawnee State University Congratulations to Shawnee State University for the 2017 Oracle Sustainability Innovation Award! The award recognizes organizations who are taking an environmental lead as well as to reduce costs and improve business efficiencies using green business practices. Not only is Shawnee State engaging students with Oracle Student Cloud, but they are helping to make the environment better too. Pictured above are: Rishi Mashur, Senior Director, Client Partner, Drivestream, Jeff Henley, Executive Vice Chairman, Oracle, and Elinda Boyles, Vice President of Administration and Finance, Shawnee State University. Analyst Coverage Our analyst community were busy presenting, attending sessions, and sharing the latest industry trends with our Oracle team. During their busy week, Ovum’s Nicole Engelbert and Dr. Joyce Kim also spoke with our customers to chart their path to the cloud in their sessions and observations. Dr. Kim’s comments were very complimentary of Oracle’s latest Student Cloud developments. “Perhaps of most interest to institutions pursuing competency-based models, Student Management enables the user institution to define its own academic time periods (instead of the standard semester term), which accommodates flexible or continuous learning activities. Moreover, it has extended its definition of curriculum offerings beyond credit-based courses to encompass competencies and work experience, and credentials beyond degrees (like badges and certificates). In doing so, Oracle is expanding the ways in which institutions can improve educational access and enable further personalization in the student learning environment.” In Nicole’s joint session with Oracle’s Keith Rajecki and Vivian Wong, the title of Nicole’s section summarized it well: “The Great Cloud Migration: Charting a Practical Path that Delivers True Institutional Value.” We were so pleased that Nicole liked what she saw from Oracle’s offerings in Higher Education. Customer Engagement And finally, our customers gave us great feedback during sessions and in the demonstration area about the latest developments in the roadmap, updates from campus, and the path to the cloud in Education and Research. “Great to see how much progress you’ve made in the Student Cloud” “We’re working on our upgrade to Campus Solutions 9.2 now but we’re excited about the prospect of leveraging some of the Student Success components Oracle has released” “We’re moving to Cloud solutions and like the efficiency we gain from delivered integration within the full Oracle Cloud suite for Higher Education—ERP, HCM and now Student Cloud.” Pictured are Oracle’s Student Cloud team in the Student Cloud demonstration booth: Boon Oupaxay, Susan Hoagman, Susan Beidler, and Jim McKendree Find Out More It’s not too late to catch up though—you can access the replay of the executive sessions and keynotes here, in the comfort of your own office. You’ll also be able to download the presentations from the OpenWorld session catalog, including these sessions: “Oracle’s Path to the Cloud for Education and Research” with David Wilkin from Birmingham University, Troy Haan from Boise State, and Nicole Engelbert from Ovum, along with Oracle’s Keith Rajecki and Vivian Wong. “Student Cloud Roadmap - Innovation and Modernization” with Vivian Wong and me focusing on the imminent release of the Student Management component “Student Cloud: Update from the Campus” with Huron Consulting, Shawnee State University, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison “Student Cloud: Designs To Empower Student and Institution Success” with Liz Jones and Jim McKendree We’re not done yet. The Student Cloud team is earning our frequent flyer points this Fall, hopefully coming to a town near you! We hope to see you over the next few weeks at the Midwest Higher Education User Group in St. Charles, IL and at the EMEA Alliance in Barcelona, Spain as well as Educause 2017 in Philadelphia. Coming close on the heels of the Educause conference is a trip to carry the Student Cloud story to the Alliance Down Under 2017 conference in Brisbane, Australia. See you soon!

Oracle OpenWorld 2017 was a tremendous event, taking over 4 or 5 city blocks in San Francisco with an estimated 60,000 attendees! If you didn’t make it to San Francisco for this year’s event,...