University of Florida

Helping students stay on track with a mobile app based on IBM CICS Transaction Server

Published on 24-Oct-2012

"IBM has delivered another very fast, modern and extendable CICS Transaction Server in CICS TS V4.2." - Steve Ware, Systems Administrator/Programmer, University of Florida

Customer:
University of Florida

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
United States

Solution:
Enterprise Modernization, Mobile, Smarter Computing, System z Software

Overview

Consistently ranked among the nation’s top public universities, UF has a distinguished reputation for preparing students to succeed in the workplace. Job recruiters ranked UF ninth on the list of Top 25 places where corporations prefer to recruit new employees (2010).

Business need:
The University of Florida (UF) wanted to provide students with information that would help them get around the 2,000-acre campus and meet their academic responsibilities.

Solution:
The university developed a mobile web application with access to the Integrated Student Information System based on IBM® CICS® Transaction Server running on an IBM System zEnterprise® 114 server.

Benefits:
Tests showed 4 percent faster performance with CICS V 4.2 vs. 4.1, 1.4-fold faster performance with zEnterprise 114 server and IBM System Storage® DS8800, and 30 percent less draw on CPU with zEnterprise 114 server.

Case Study

Ownership of smartphones among college students jumped to 69 percent in 2012 from 27 percent in 2009, according to one report. The growth rate could hit 80 percent in 2013 and 90 percent in 2014.1 The message is clear. If you want to reach college and university students, say it with a smartphone.

The University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville has taken this message seriously and rolled out a mobile web application which enables its 50,000 students and 5,400 faculty members, and its staff, to access a rich selection of online features anytime and anywhere using a mobile device.

Consistently ranked among the nation’s top public universities, UF has a distinguished reputation for preparing students to succeed in the workplace. Job recruiters ranked UF ninth on the list of Top 25 places where corporations prefer to recruit new employees (2010). UF also ranks No. 3 on SmartMoney magazine’s list of colleges and universities that help graduates get top salaries (2011) and No. 6 on Payscale.com’s list of universities that offer the best return on investment for undergraduate education (2011). UF has a commitment to providing its students with opportunities to use the latest technologies to help them make better choices about their education and prepare them for technology advancements they will find when they enter the workplace.

Getting around smarter

Just getting around the 2,000-acre UF campus is a challenge, especially for new students. The UF Mobile Web makes it easier, safer and faster. A live interactive map of the campus shows where buildings are located. An emergency feature allows users to contact the UF Police or the Operator in two clicks. The campus is serviced by the Gainesville Regional Transit System, and an interactive map enables the user to see where a bus is on its route and how long it will take to arrive. A people finder provides contact information for students and faculty.

The heart of the UF Mobile Web is the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS), which keeps students on track with class schedules, required textbooks, academic dates and information, grades and important announcements. “Academic life can be very complicated, especially in a vibrant environment such as the University of Florida, with so many activities and demands on the student’s time,” says Steve Ware, systems administrator/programmer, University of Florida. “The UF Mobile Web helps students navigate through this information overload and meet their responsibilities.”

The UF Mobile Web was developed using the Mobile Web Open Source Project v2.5.0, a fork of version 0.9 of MIT Mobile Web. When students access ISIS on their smartphones, they are actually accessing the university’s IBM CICS Transaction Server environment, which runs on the IBM mainframe. IBM CICS is an advanced mainframe transaction processing solution that provides powerful and flexible support for online transaction processing (OLTP) operations.

Boosting performance by four percent

No stranger to CICS, UF recently migrated to CICS Transaction Server for z/OS®, Version 4.2 from 4.1, in a beta testing program for the new version. “The University of Florida has been participating in CICS betas for about a decade, which has helped contribute to the continued success of CICS and the mainframe at UF, where we rely on CICS for our core business, which is our 50,000 students,” Ware comments.

UF did load testing with CICS 4.1 and 4.2 versions to see if there was a difference in the performance of ISIS. “There was actually a four percent improvement in the performance of the CICS workload with 4.2,” says Ware. “IBM has delivered another very fast, modern and extendable CICS Transaction Server in CICS TS V4.2.”

Fast development in a few weeks

UF uses the IBM Communications Server CICS socket interface. “The socket interface made the development of the UF Mobile Web component that much easier because it utilizes several web servers running Apache,” says Ware. “We were able to put a test environment together in a few weeks.”

The UF CICS environment runs with IBM DB2® 10 database and VSAM. The data is stored in VSAM and DB2 tables. Most applications are developed in IBM High Level Assembler and, to a lesser degree, with IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS.

UF Information Technology (UFIT) management, UFIT CICS systems staff and UF ISIS CICS application developers use IBM Tivoli® OMEGAMON® XE for CICS to improve time to resolution should an issue arise with CICS performance. This helps to keep system availability high.

UF recently took delivery of an IBM System zEnterprise 114 server, replacing its IBM System z9® Business Class mainframe. “The upgrade to the zEnterprise 114 mainframe resulted in a 1.4-fold performance improvement,” says Ware. “What’s more, the CPU consumption for the CICS workload on the z114 has decreased approximately 30 percent.”

Up to one million transactions per day

The university also upgraded its IBM System Storage DS8100 to the DS8800. “We’ve enjoyed very near 100 percent scheduled availability with CICS TS 4.2, and exceptional performance, especially coupled with our new z114 and DS8800,” Ware says.

UF’s IBM CICS environment handles from half a million transactions per day to one million at busy times, such as registration. “Not only is our IBM infrastructure scalable and rock solid,” Ware adds, “but also our total cost of ownership is very low compared to other solutions. It has helped us put relevant, timely information in front of the student in a mobile world.”

Solution components

Software

  • IBM® CICS® Transaction Server for z/OS®, Version 4.2
  • IBM Communications Server
  • IBM DB2® 10 database
  • IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, Version 4.2
  • IBM High Level Assembler
  • IBM Tivoli® OMEGAMON® XE for CICS

Servers
  • IBM System Storage® DS8800
  • IBM System zEnterprise® 114 server

For more information

To learn more about the IBM CICS Transaction Server, please contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner, or visit the following website: ibm.com/software/htp/cics/tserver/

Additionally, IBM Global Financing can help you acquire the software capabilities that your business needs in the most cost-effective and strategic way possible. We'll partner with credit-qualified clients to customize a financing solution to suit your business and development goals, enable effective cash management, and improve your total cost of ownership. Fund your critical IT investment and propel your business forward with IBM Global Financing. For more information, visit: ibm.com/financing

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

Hardware:
System z

Software:
DB2 for z/OS, Enterprise COBOL for z/OS and OS/390, High Level Assembler and Toolkit Feature, Tivoli OMEGAMON XE for CICS on z/OS, DB2 Universal Database Enterprise Edition, Communications Server for Linux on zSeries, CICS Transaction Server for z/OS V4.2

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2012 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 Produced in the United States of America October 2012 IBM, the IBM logo, ibm.com, CICS, DB2, System Storage, zEnterprise, and z/OS are trademarks of International Business Machines Corp., registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. Other product and service names might be trademarks of IBM or other companies. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the web at “Copyright and trademark information” at ibm.com/legal/copytrade.shtml This document is current as of the initial date of publication and may be changed by IBM at any time. Not all offerings are available in every country in which IBM operates. The performance data discussed herein is presented as derived under specific operating conditions. Actual results may vary. THE INFORMATION IN THIS DOCUMENT IS PROVIDED “AS IS” WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING WITHOUT ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND ANY WARRANTY OR CONDITION OF NON-INFRINGEMENT. IBM products are warranted according to the terms and conditions of the agreements under which they are provided.