Administrative Computing Committee

February 13th, 2001 3:30pm

Members Present David Heise, Chair; Gary Dickerson, Secretary;  Derek Bradfield, Dan Bidwell (for Dan Cress), Emilio Gracia-Marenko, Ron Herr, Marlene Jorgensen, Sue Schwab, Steve Sowder, Sharyl Turon
Members Absent Dan Cress, Elaine Hoilette, Lisa Jardine, Pat Mutch, Ed Wines
Prayer David Heise
Minutes of Previous Meeting The minutes of the previous meeting were reviewed and approved.
System Performance During Registration

David Heise presented a paper diagramming the growth in the number and power of administrative systems servers over the last four years.  He also presented a memo from Dan Cress that discussed system performance during registrations and what is being proposed to improve performance.

Dan Bidwell also reported on changes in system demands and system performance.  Back in August of 2000, two new servers were added to share some of the processing burden previously being carried exclusively by the Enterprise 3000 ('Redwood').  These new servers are running the Oracle Database and the Oracle Web Server respectively, and significant improvements in performance were observed in processes such as payroll processing.  Performance for Fall registration was acceptable even with the increased load created by increased use of the web for registration.  However, performance during Spring registration was unacceptably slow.  Gary Dickerson presented studies later in the meeting explaining some of the reasons for the poor performance.  Another reason was that an Oracle 'feature' was turned on for this registration that was supposed to improve performance for web access, but a software bug, reported only in the next version of Oracle, actually caused a major slowdown over time.

This feature was subsequently turned off, but periods of poor performance were still being observed.  It was found that the CPU on the database server was limiting throughput, and ITS is proposing that this server be upgraded from an Ultra 5 with single 360 MHz CPU to a Blade 1000 with dual 750 MHz CPUs.  Contacts at Sun Microsystems have told us that this machine will shortly be offered to educational institutions heavily discounted from the $17,000 current price.  However, if that does not eventuate, we propose ordering a Blade 1000 with dual 600 MHz CPUs, for about $7,500.

Gary Dickerson presented graphs showing the registration load for the past three years.  Two main conclusions could be drawn from the information.  First, since we have now gone to the semester system, each student typically registers for 1/3 more classes.  This requires additional resources around the registration periods.  Second, 'web registration' as currently implemented at Andrews University means using web screens in an advisor's office, mostly during regular registration hours.  Most registrations are still taking place between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm, but  instead of just 5 terminals at the Records Office counter, now we have 200 advisors using the web and simultaneous registration requests have increased well beyond the capacity of the servers to keep up.  The web registration window needs to be extended in order to relieve the pressure on system resources during peak times.

[*]Review of Committee Charter David Heise presented a draft charter based on similar documents for Administrative Computing Committees on other campuses.  Items that were discussed include the name for the committee, committee membership, and the scope of the committee.  Members of the committee will read the document and the discussion will be pursued at future meetings.
Next Meeting April 3rd, 2001 at 3:30 p.m.


Chair: David Heise

Secretary: Gary Dickerson