UNIMINUTO makes its educational dreams come true with an agile, integrated IBM and SAP solution

Published on 08-May-2013

"Given what we are now able to do thanks to the strategic migration to IBM DB2, we strongly believe that UNIMINUTO has become a model of innovation and success. IBM and SAP together were key to helping our educational dreams come true." - Alvaro Blanco, CTO, UNIMINUTO

Customer:
UNIMINUTO

Industry:
Education

Deployment country:
Colombia

Solution:
Business Resiliency, Energy Efficiency, Enterprise Resource Planning, Information Management Foundation, Virtualization, Virtualization - Server

IBM Business Partner:
SAP

Overview

Founded in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1990, UNIMINUTO is a private university which has been offering qualifications in subjects ranging from social sciences to engineering and technology since 1992. The university employs more than 4,300 people and provides educational services to more than 67,000 students from 45 different locations in the country.

Business need:
In 2000, Colombian private university UNIMINUTO started establishing more campuses at locations across the country. With more staff supporting the increased number of students enrolling each semester, it became difficult for the university to keep pace with administration tasks. UNIMINUTO wanted to be able to reach the widest range of students by providing more affordable and diversified courses, and existing IT systems were preventing it from achieving these goals.

Solution:
UNMINUTO sought to move towards a more modern computing infrastructure, which would reduce manual operations and avoid information dispersal. The university chose to introduce integrated SAP ERP solutions, implementing a comprehensive suite of applications including Financials and Controlling, Materials Management, Human Capital Management, Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable, and Sales and Distribution.

Benefits:
Supports UNIMINUTO’s drive for modern and interactive education programs. Provides economic assistance to 27 percent more students per year. Processes financial interactions more than 90 percent faster. Cut energy consumption by 18 percent, reduced floorspace requirements and yet increased usable compute capacity by 522 percent.

Case Study

Founded in Bogotá, Colombia, in 1990, UNIMINUTO is a private university which has been offering qualifications in subjects ranging from social sciences to engineering and technology since 1992. The university employs more than 4,300 people and provides educational services to more than 67,000 students from 45 different locations in the country.

The university’s mission is to provide education that is easily accessible to everyone, without sacrificing quality. Alvaro Blanco, CTO at UNIMINUTO, comments, “UNIMINUTO has always had a dream, right from its foundation: to make quality education available to more people, at more affordable costs and with a cultural offer that’s diversified, thriving and up-to-date.”

Consistent with this commitment to make education accessible to all, regardless of background or economic situation, the university works with external institutions such as banks, credit providers and the central government, to provide financial assistance to the poorest students.

Solving the challenges of growth
UNIMINUTO embarked on an ambitious expansion program, starting in 2000, to establish campuses at locations across Colombia. With more staff supporting the increased number of students enrolling each semester, it became difficult for the university to keep pace with administration tasks.

UNIMINUTO recognized that it needed to move towards a more efficient and sustainable operating model. The university’s main priority was to guarantee that both students and staff could have easy and rapid access to all the information they needed. Existing information systems were outdated and inflexible, preventing UNIMINUTO from providing effective delivery of key services. For example, when a student wanted to apply to the university or select their courses for the semester, they had to handle everything manually through photocopied forms and spreadsheets. Administration staff at each facility then processed the applications by re-keying the data. Core financial and accounting processes were cumbersome, preventing administrative staff from effectively managing student financial information.

Alvaro Blanco says, “We encountered problems when it came to managing finances for students receiving financial aid. One single student might receive assistance from two or more organizations, in cash or via bank transfer.

“Can you imagine how difficult and time-consuming it was to keep a record of all these transactions for thousands of students, spread across 45 different geographical locations? Not to mention the consequences that a small error in the process might have had on a student’s academic career.”

Moving towards modernization with SAP and IBM
UNIMINUTO sought to move towards a more modern computing infrastructure, which would reduce manual operations and avoid information dispersal. The university chose to introduce integrated SAP® ERP solutions, implementing a comprehensive suite of applications including Financials and Controlling, Materials Management, Human Capital Management, Contract Accounts Receivable and Payable, and Sales and Distribution.

Alvaro Blanco says, “As soon as we started using SAP ERP applications, we realized the enormous potential of this software. We were finally able to have a centralized and unified view of everything that was going on across all 45 of our locations today. The solution also enabled us to offer our users quicker and more reliable access to all the services they needed.”

The SAP applications are accessed daily by 582 users located in the university’s different departments. Each department focuses on the SAP core module for its specific activity: for instance, the financial area relies extensively on the SAP Sales and Distribution module, which allows it to manage all financial and invoicing tasks for 67,000 students, as well as payroll for 4,300 employees.

Database upgrade
Following the SAP ERP implementation, UNIMINUTO realized that its supporting database environment was not capable of keeping pace with the growing volumes of information generated by the new SAP applications.

Alvaro Blanco explains, “Our previous database solution could only manage efficiently small volumes of data and perform a limited number of transactions. The delays and poor operational performance were preventing us from getting the most out of our SAP ERP applications, and were starting to have a negative impact on our students and staff.

IT staff at UNIMINUTO wanted to upgrade to a database solution that could satisfy its needs for greater scalability and performance, and ultimately opted for IBM® DB2® software running on the Linux Red Hat operating system.

The university undertook a migration project which, despite its complexity, was carried out by the IT staff and finalized smoothly and efficiently. The data – including important information on payroll and finance for all of UNIMINUTO’s students and employees – was moved to the new IBM database.

Alvaro Blanco comments, “Providing seamless integration with the university’s existing SAP environment, IBM DB2 proved to be a fundamental support for UNIMINUTO’s growing need for scalability and flexibility.

“We realized the high degree of complexity of the whole process, and can safely say that IBM DB2 enabled a simple and secure migration. The solution has helped to handle a highly demanding workload in an easier and more reliable way.

“With IBM DB2 we can really make the most of our SAP ERP platform, which translates to better service for our staff and students, and improved management of our resources.”

In particular, UNIMINUTO is leveraging the Self-Tuning Memory Manager feature within IBM DB2, which automatically optimizes database memory usage. STMM makes a direct contribution to the performance of standard SAP operations, helping them complete more rapidly and effectively without the need for a manual tuning effort. The database of 250 GB has continually increased since roll-out, and is currently growing by between one and five percent every month, and STMM automatically adjusts the configuration to allow UNIMINUTO to enjoy very rapid database response.

UNIMINUTO chose to complete its IT renewal by deploying IBM BladeCenter® HS22 servers and IBM System Storage® DS5200 solutions. HS22 blade servers offer flexible options to support a broad range of workloads, by providing a reliable and resilient platform that meets the university’s requirements for scalability and database growth. UNIMINUTO’s mission-critical applications and core infrastructure are running on this platform using more than 115 virtualized servers. The IBM System Storage DS5020 Express solution delivers high performance, robust functionality and optimized data management, ideal for UNIMINUTO’s rapidly growing storage volumes.

Reaping the benefits
Prior to the deployment of DB2, UNIMINUTO struggled to generate its regular reports reliably and within suitable timeframes.

For example, a monthly summary showing the university’s financial position took several weeks to collate and generate. Using the combination of SAP ERP and DB2, UNIMINUTO is able to create this report in a matter of hours – an improvement of over 90 percent – automatically, and deliver it to key stakeholders in a timely manner every month.

By replacing standard rack servers with the IBM BladeCenter solution, the university has seen energy consumption lowered by 18 percent, a reduction in floor space requirements, and a 522 percent increase in compute-usable capacity. In addition, the organization benefits from the highly redundant specification of IBM BladeCenter.

With the IBM System Storage DS5020 Express, UNIMINUTO now relies on an extremely scalable platform that will support data growth while keeping costs low and without sacrificing performance.

Alvaro Blanco remarks: “With the new insights generated by the joint IBM and SAP solution, we can make more profitable and targeted decisions on the courses we offer, and decide which ones need to be expanded, improved or updated. By doing so, we have been able to broaden our educational offering while maintaining high levels of quality, in line with one of our main goals of supporting modern and interactive education programs.”

“Financial transactions are now up to 90 percent faster, and this means that we can reach out to a wider range of people, approximately 36 percent more students per year, as well as provide economic assistance to 27 percent more students every year. In the past it took us up to two weeks to process transactions for students. We can now complete these online in only half an hour, which is a huge saving.

“Given what we are now able to do thanks to the strategic migration to IBM DB2, we strongly believe that UNIMINUTO has become a model of innovation and success. IBM and SAP together were key to helping our educational dreams come true.”

Products and services used

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

Hardware:
BladeCenter, BladeCenter H Chassis, BladeCenter HS22, Storage, Storage: DS5020, System x

Software:
DB2 for Linux

Service:
IBM-SAP Alliance

Legal Information

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