Return to the Integrated Systems Project Home Page
Integrated

Systems

Task Force

Study Group #4

Final Report

November 26, 1996

Executive Summary

In considering a single vendor partnership approach for replacing the University's core administrative applications, one of the key issues that must be addressed is the technical quality of products in the marketplace. A group of technical professionals from across the University completed a high-level study of this issue and concluded that there are at least four vendors who have impressive technical strategies. Each vendor has its own unique strengths and weaknesses, but any one of them would be possible partners from a purely technical perspective.

The vendors evaluated were Buzzeo, PeopleSoft, SAP, and SCT. Information gathered from vendor responses to an RFI, vendor presentations, vendor Web sites, and visits to two customer sites, Virginia Tech and James Madison University, were used in the study. Because the scope and schedule for the study was limited, the group did not attempt to rank the vendors (this would be more appropriately done in a procurement process), but did identify key strengths and weaknesses of each, as was its charge. A brief summary of the group's findings follows.

Buzzeo - While other vendors discussed ways in which their systems could be interfaced with legacy systems, Buzzeo specifically markets itself as a systems integrator. A key strategy the company promotes is the use of its "plugs" to allow existing systems to be integrated into the Buzzeo system environment. More study is needed to determine if there is anything truly unique and beneficial about this strategy. Buzzeo utilizes the most innovative technology of the four vendors to develop its application products. If appropriately implemented, this technology should result in a highly flexible environment for establishing and maintaining business rules. Complex rules can be changed "on the fly" and can apply to any entity level, from university-wide all the way down to an individual student or employee. While it is likely the knowledge-based technology employed by Buzzeo will eventually become the norm, there are some trade-offs in using it now. For example, this technology would have the greatest learning curve for the University's technical staff. Buzzeo is still a small company and has not yet proven it can deliver a viable, full-functioned product using this technology. The first of its product line is due out in December, after which time the University can more thoroughly assess how well the company has employed this technology.

PeopleSoft - This company has a solid customer base and appears to be committed to the higher education market, since it has recently established a higher education division. Tools are provided for tailoring screens, reports, and business rules, and JMU, a PeopleSoft customer, indicated these have been adequate to meet their needs. There are currently problems, however, in the level of integration in PeopleSoft products. Data and functions are not integrated between financial systems and human resources systems. PeopleSoft acknowledges this problem and is constructing its new student system as an integrated part of the existing human resources system, and the company has stated it is working on integrating financial systems as well. Based upon comments from JMU, the system management tools that come with the product are not currently very robust, but PeopleSoft is working on improvements.

SAP - This company is the leading client/server vendor in the world and has recently adopted a strategy to strengthen its presence in the higher education market. SAP has probably obtained this ranking because of the extensive flexibility of its product to be modified to fit specific needs, the "openness" of its architecture in supporting multiple hardware, software, and database platforms, and the high level of integration of product components. In addition, the product uses a design architecture that best facilitates the shifting of software and data among clients and servers as needed to achieve good performance. All of this flexibility may come at a price, however. Implementation time is alleged to be very extensive, exceeding that of other vendor products. Another potential problem is that the company has not yet firmly committed to development of a student system.

SCT - This company has had a complete product line for higher education for many years and these products are being used successfully by a number of customers, primarily small- to medium-sized institutions. The company is working on a "Complex Institution Strategy" to develop greater functionality within its products for major research universities, and Virginia Tech has already been successful in convincing SCT to modify its base products for certain functions that would be needed by other large schools. If UVa partnered with SCT, it would be able to leverage some of the work Tech has already done. SCT is also developing a Web front-end to its applications. A concern about SCT is its tight integration with the Oracle database environment; Oracle is the only database on which SCT operates. This dependency has caused problems for Virginia Tech in areas such as support for Mac workstations. Future technical developments by Oracle may resolve some of these problems.

While it is clear all four vendors have weaknesses, customers we visited expressed confidence that their vendor partners were diligently working on improvements. Both JMU and Virginia Tech had difficulties in the early stages of their relationships with their vendors, but say they have worked through these problems. These schools are committed to using as much of what has been delivered by the vendors as possible and are using the vendors' tailoring tools to adjust the products where there is not a good fit. They stated they were able to use the tailoring tools to do all the necessary modifications. Both JMU and Virginia Tech said that from a technical perspective, given the chance to make the decision again, they would choose an integrated solution and the same vendor partner.

All of the vendors studied come with development tools that could be used to develop and integrate software functionality not provided in the vendors' products. To varying degrees, the vendors also provide tools for modifying business rules, screens, and reports and for managing the ongoing production operation of the applications. With these capabilities, these vendor solutions have the potential to be complete administrative application environments for both purchased and in-house-developed applications. Providing technical support for multiple comprehensive environments such as these, as would be necessary in a best-of-breed implementation approach, would be untenable.

The transition to enterprise-wide client/server applications represents a major challenge for the University. Roles and responsibilities will change, greater consistency in workstation hardware and software may be needed, new procedures for review and approval of application software changes will be required, training needs will change, etc. The study group has identified some of these key changes and made recommendations for initiating these changes. These actions are required regardless of which approach the University chooses for procuring new applications and need not wait until an actual procurement decision is made.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Assessment Criteria:

For Best of Breed and Integrated Solutions

For Integrated Solutions

Vendor Assessment - Buzzeo

Vendor Assessment - PeopleSoft

Vendor Assessment - SCT

Advantages & Implications Of Implementing Enterprise-Wide
Client/Server Applications

Conclusions

Appendices:

A. Summary Of Assessment Criteria

B. Integrated Systems Definition


Introduction

Study Group 4 of the Integrated Systems Task Force was charged with determining the strengths and weaknesses of technical architectures of products developed by vendors who were deemed "leading candidates" from the RFI process. The group consisted of technical professionals from across the University. Members were:

Barbara Henry, Human Resources

Rich Israel (scribe), Information Technology & Communication

Wade Komisar, Office of Information Technologies

Steve Maupin, Information Technology & Communication

Debbie Mills, Information Technology & Communication

Shelley Payne (facilitator), Organizational Development & Training

Shirley Payne (leader), Office of Information Technologies

Fred Rembold, Facilities Management

Rick Seaman, Finance

Alan Shook, Medical Center Computing

Cory Skeens, Medical Center Computing

Tim Sigmon, Office of Information Technologies

Ellie Withers (scribe), Information Technology & Communication

The group was asked to evaluate four vendors: Buzzeo, PeopleSoft, SAP, and SCT. The technical strategies of each were assessed by reading literature the vendors provided in their responses to the RFI and on their Web sites, attending vendor presentations, and visiting Virginia Tech and James Madison University who have partnerships with SCT and PeopleSoft, respectively. Evaluation criteria were defined, vendors were judged on these criteria, and major strengths and weaknesses of each vendor were identified. The vendors were purposely not ranked according to the overall technical quality of their products, since, despite extensive study on the part of the group, there is still much to learn about the products of these four vendors. The work of this group must be supplemented with more in-depth analysis before drawing conclusions on which vendor has the superior technical strategy. This more rigorous study should be deferred until a procurement process takes place.

This report begins with a description of criteria used to evaluate the vendors. This is followed by four sections, one for each vendor, describing general strengths and weaknesses and commenting on the manner in which the vendor meets (or does not meet) each evaluation criterion. Because the transition to enterprise-wide client/server applications represents a major change for the University regardless of which procurement strategy is used, the next section discusses some of the advantages and implications of client/server computing and suggests actions that could be taken now to prepare for this change. The report closes with conclusions and recommendations.

Assessment Criteria

The application software products on the market today are large and complex, and the technical environments in which they are built to operate can vary greatly from vendor to vendor. To objectively judge the strengths and weaknesses of a selected group of application vendors, it is essential that the University's technical environment, both current and planned, is well-articulated and that what is considered "good" versus "bad" in a vendor's product be agreed upon and well-communicated. This section of our report defines these considerations at a high level. It draws from information provided in a document ITC published in the spring of 1996, which describes the current and planned distributed information architecture for the University (reference URL http://www.itc.virginia.edu/department/committees/acc/reports/darch.html). This section is divided into two parts: 1) a discussion of technical features any application software product should exhibit, and 2) a discussion of technical integration features an integrated system vendor's products should incorporate. Appendix A provides a summarized table of these features for quick reference.

For Best-Of-Breed and Integrated Solutions

Regardless of whether the University chooses a best-of-breed or integrated systems vendor strategy for replacing its current systems, there are certain features one should look for in any vendor's product offering. These features fall into twelve categories as follows:

A discussion follows of the specific characteristics that would be considered "best", "good", and "poor" in a given vendor's product in each of these categories.


Fit To Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported - In recent years ITC has employed the RS/6000 AIX platform for a number of academic and administrative uses and this remains the preferred option. However, it would be beneficial for the application vendor to support other leading Unix platforms such as Sun and HP as well as Windows NT so that the University can make competitive decisions in the future.

Workstation Platforms Supported - The current environment includes a mixture of IBM-compatible PCs (running Windows 3.1 and Windows 95), Macintoshes, and Unix workstations. It is preferred that all three client platforms be supported (including subsequent releases of their operating systems such as Windows NT, etc.).

Network Protocols Supported - Communications should be based on the TCP/IP suite of protocols.

Messaging Standards Supported - Messaging should be based on the MAPI protocol.

Databases Supported - This criterion is related to the databases the integrated systems vendor supports. If the vendor supports several top-of-the-line databases this would provide some evidence of an open architecture and would provide the University the flexibility of switching to another database product should this prove desirable in the future. The University's current standard database vendor is Sybase.

External Office Products Supported - It is expected that users will want to extract data out of the applications and download it to spreadsheets and PC databases for further analysis and manipulation. It is important for the application vendor to support this download capability via standards such as ODBC.

Openness

Support for Industry Standards - It is important that the application vendor support industry standards in areas such as communications protocols, security, EDI, object technology, user interfaces, etc.

System Architectural Capabilities

Support For n-tier Design - The three major parts of an application are the presentation (user interface), application logic, and the database. Maximum flexibility is obtained when the system architecture allows these functions to be placed on separate computing platforms that can be sized appropriately. This is referred to as a 3-tier architecture (with n-tier being a generalization that allows for further flexibility via replication and/or further division of various functions). The less desirable 2-tier architecture places the application logic either on the database platform, the presentation platform, or a combination of both.

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy - Application development based on object technology is becoming increasingly important. Besides the initial and ongoing benefits that accrue to the application developer, use of object technology can greatly simplify and magnify the University's ability to maintain, enhance, and customize applications.

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual / Power Users - Access to administrative applications via a Web browser provides many advantages for the users of those systems and for the support of the systems, as well. This criterion specifies that a modern application software package either be developed to operate in a Web-based environment or that the package include additional Web-based products to make the information available through Web browsers.

Graphical User Interface (GUI) - This criterion means that the application software should be designed to take advantage of the point-and-click / drag-and-drop desktop environment provided by Windows based PC's, Mac's, or Unix workstations.

Alternative Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data (Images) - Many administrative applications can be enhanced by including the ability to link image files to the primary transaction. These images can be linked through proprietary software or through an open link to third party packages. This criterion assesses the degree to which a vendor supports an open image interface.

Support for Voice Response - This criterion assesses the degree to which the application supports access to data through a voice response interface, such as EPOS that currently exists in our Student Information System.

Support for Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) - This criterion assesses the degree to which the vendor supports Electronic Data Interchange standards.

Support for SPEEDE - This criterion assesses whether the package supports the specific EDI standard used for transferring student transcript information.

Security Features

User Authentication - Reliable and secure methods for user authentication are extremely important. Use of open standards that will allow the University to move to an environment of single sign-on is also desired.

Encryption - Given the sensitivity of administrative data, the vendor should support encryption methods that prevent the ability of malicious (or just curious) users from getting access to the data via methods such as "sniffing" the network.

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools For User Development/Maintenance Of Business Rules - Logic to support business rules is the most volatile of all software comprising an application, and the process of gathering business rule specifications from users and translating those into programming language can be time-consuming and error-prone. For these reasons, there is general agreement that future applications should provide the ability for selected users to directly enter business rules into the applications, bypassing the "middle man". This criterion concerns the tools the vendor provides for this purpose.

Tools For Screen/Report Modifications - Purchased applications would be delivered with standard screens and reports which the University would likely want to modify to fit unique characteristics of the institution. This criterion addresses tools provided by the vendor for this purpose.

Preservation Of Changes With Software Upgrades - It is critical that changes made to business rules, standard screens, and standard reports are retained when new releases of the vendor's base software are installed.

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools With Add-on Or External Applications - Although the strategy of purchasing applications significantly reduces the need for in-house-developed applications, it does not completely eliminate it. It should be expected that there will be a continuing need to develop at least some software to add critical functionality to purchased applications not possible with tailoring tools and/or to develop additional applications not available in the marketplace. To reduce the number of software development tools our programmers must learn and use, it would be highly desirable for the application software vendor to make available the same tools used to develop the purchased application for in-house development of add-ons or completely separate applications.

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms - This criterion refers to the ability to create a new version of software that operates on all client platforms.

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools For Distributing Software Changes - Since many client/server software vendors currently place significant amounts of software on user workstations, upgrading this software when changes are received from the vendor or made in-house can be a difficult process. This criterion addresses the degree to which vendors provide mechanisms for distributing software changes in an efficient manner.

Tools for Operation - In a client/server environment processing occurs on multiple platforms, making the systems more difficult to manage operationally. This criterion addresses the degree to which vendors provide operational tools for the end user as well as the central IT Operations staff to monitor, schedule, and control the day-to-day production environment.

Documentation - This criterion looks at the quality of vendor literature, available on-line or in a printed form, to help the customer use and support the purchased systems. This documentation should be easy-to-use, have a robust search engine (if it is on-line), be readily accessible and easily customized to the preferences of the user.

Customer Service - This criterion is concerned with the quality and availability of staff the vendor provides for answering customer questions and resolving production problems.

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

A University initiative to implement a Web-based electronic forms and workflow system developed in-house is already well underway. Two releases of the system have been implemented, several widely used forms have been converted to it, and a number of users have been trained to use the system. A list of additional features to be added have been identified and will be incorporated in the future. Vendor offerings will need to be evaluated on the availability of either better tools for electronic forms and workflow or of mechanisms for interfacing purchased applications with the existing system or any future third-party tool that we might purchase.

Data Warehousing Strategy

This criterion is related to the vendor's approach for providing decision support access to end users via a data warehouse. Essential components of a data warehouse are a leading relational database management system to manage the data in the warehouse, an information catalog to provide data about the data (meta-data), "canned" reports for novice users, and access to the warehouse through a wide array of reporting tools. The University has developed and implemented a data warehouse which uses Sybase to manage the data, an in-house-developed Web-based product to provide access to the information catalog, and certain "canned" reports accessed through Access and BrioQuery tools. Any data warehouse strategy that uses the same database files that are used for transaction processing in lieu of a separate database would be a cause for concern.

For Integrated Solutions

In addition to having the characteristics already described, an integrated systems vendor should provide certain other features that make its individual application products look and operate as though they were a single, large application. The study group developed a detailed definition of an ideally integrated system and this definition is included as Appendix B. These integrated features listed in the definition fall into four basic categories as follows:

It is expected that vendors will differ in terms of which integration features listed in Appendix B they support. It is unlikely all will be supported, however, the more that are, the better. While the study group does not yet have enough information about the four vendors to rate them on all items outlined in Appendix B, it does have high-level impressions of their integration capabilities. Following is a discussion by category of general integration characteristics which the group used to judge the vendors.

Data Integration

Data integration is how well a system's data are collectively managed. Some points of integration are the model of the data, the number of databases upon which the system is built, the number of source points for entering data, whether a system has an information catalog, and the degree of redundancy of data.

Application Integration

To reduce the learning curve for programmers responsible for supporting a purchased suite of applications and to make tailoring for those applications easier, it is important that the vendor developed the various applications in the suite using a common design philosophy and common programming languages and tools.

Presentation Integration

The degree to which all screens and reports are designed in a consistent manner greatly affects the amount of training required to the use the systems and the efficiency of daily user interaction with the systems. A good suite of products from one vendor will tend to be consistent within an application and across application areas. Best-of-breed solutions will tend to be inconsistent because each application was developed separately.

Operational Integration

An important benefit of integrated systems is having a single environment to operate the systems in a production mode. In such an environment, there would be common tools and procedures across all systems for such areas as security and rights administration, implementation of new software releases, job scheduling, performance monitoring, error notification, backup and recovery, etc. The implications are reduced learning curves on the part of staff charged with day to day operation of the systems, reduced effort to maintain the systems since there would be fewer software products involved to support ongoing operations, and more rapid resolution of problems because the same tools and techniques would be used for all systems.

Vendor Assessment -- Buzzeo

General Comments

Buzzeo was founded in 1993 to develop state-of-the-art applications for higher education. Information about the company's technical strategy has been hard to gather because Buzzeo currently has very few higher education partners, does not yet have products on the market, and has been reticent in disclosing details about its strategy given that UVa is not yet in a procurement phase. Based upon the small amount of information the study group has at this point, the company does seem to have embraced many aspects of advanced technology in their design. Buzzeo plans to release some capabilities in the student systems area in December 1996. Human resources and finance systems are under development, but it may be two years before Buzzeo will have a full product line.

Buzzeo employs what is generally known as expert systems technology, an outgrowth of artificial intelligence technology. Business rules are stored in an "inference engine" database and can be tied together in a manner similar to the way humans think. The end result is a system driven by business rules that can be highly complex yet easy to understand, can apply to any entity level (e.g. at the university-wide level, at the specific student/employee level), and can be changed "on the fly" and become immediately effective in the system. Expert systems technology has been used to a limited degree by major corporations to address specific functional needs, but most leading software vendors are not yet offering enterprise-wide applications products based on this technology. While we believe software vendors will most likely follow a path similar to Buzzeo's in the future, it remains to be seen how successful Buzzeo will be in employing this technology. It is comforting to know, however, that Buzzeo is utilizing a leading inference engine product, called Neuron, to develop its products. Of technical architectures studied, Buzzeo's would likely require the steepest learning curve for technical staff.

Buzzeo's systems are being developed with Web interfaces written in Java, which means the company will have much flexibility with user interface design. The systems are being built to operate in a multi-tier environment, which will afford significant flexibility in distributing system software and data among various hardware platforms to achieve maximum performance. It is interesting to note that Buzzeo is unique among the four vendors we reviewed in that it markets itself as a systems integration vendor and claims it provides a framework that gives a best-of-breed environment some characteristics of an integrated environment. The company provides what it calls "plugs" for interfacing legacy applications to the Buzzeo systems environment, but the study group was unable to get specifics from the vendor on exactly how these work. We do know these "plugs" will require some level of effort on UVa's part (possibly significant) to make them work.

The study group discovered no "show stoppers" in terms of implementing this system, although it is concerned about the lack of technical information available on Buzzeo's architecture. A weakness may be in Buzzeo's tight partnership with Oracle. Buzzeo implies its product will work well with our preferred database vendor Sybase, but the company's partnership may prevent it from providing adequate support for a Sybase installation.

Summary of Fit to Criteria

Criterion
Evaluation
Fit to Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported

Dependence on Oracle Database allows system to run on a variety of platforms including RS/6000 - AIX.

Workstations Supported

Utilization of Web technology lets system run on a variety of platforms. Supports character-based terminals as well.

Network Protocols Supported

TCP/IP

Messaging Standards Supported

Unknown

Databases Supported

Partnership with Oracle implies this is the only database offered.

External Office Products Supported

ODBC-compliance means all popular products supported.

Openness

Support for Industry Standards

Some. More information needed.

System Architectural Capabilities

Support for n-Tier Design

Claim to have a fully-implemented n-tier technology.

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy

JAVA ensures an object orientation to their development. Supports CORBA.

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual/Power Users

Framework is designed to operate within the Web. It uses state-of-the-art JAVA programming.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Under "best-of-breed" software for each application, each application should have consistent GUI interface.

Alternate Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data

Claims to provide a fully image-enabled system. Digital video capability will be added in the future.

Support for Voice Response

Unknown

Support for EDI

Unknown

Support for SPEEDE

Unknown

Security Features

User Authentication

Content sensitive security, based on the values of fields in the data, has been implemented. ODBC interface carries security to applications outside the original suite.

Encryption

Unknown

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools for User Development and Maintenance of Business Rules

Logical Business Rules are implemented outside the source code, allowing a variety of rules to be established and maintained. There appears to be no limit on the complexity of rules that can be incorporated.

Tools for Screen/Report Modifications

Tools are provided to tailor screens and reports. The reporting tools enables users to create new reports.

Preservation of Changes with Software Upgrades

Implementation of business rules, data access, graphical user interfaces, and communication software into distinct components allows upgrade of any single component without impacted others. Since rules are stored outside the base code, changes should be easily preserved across software upgrades.

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools With Add-on or External Applications

Leading-edge, knowledge-based, object-oriented tools are provided with the product which can be used to create add-ons to purchased applications or new applications.

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms

One version works on all platforms

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools for Distributing Software Changes

Vendor was not specific; further investigation needed.

Tools for Operations

Some Buzzeo tools are available as well as tools provided by third-party 'plug compatible' vendors. Exact extent of tools provided or supported is unknown.

Documentation

Vendor has provided very little information on documentation, preferring to wait until UVa was further along in the selection process.

Customer Service

Completely unknown at this time. No products yet delivered.

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

An electronic forms and workflow capability is imbedded in the product. It utilizes the same rules-based technology as the rest of the system, implying a high degree of flexibility. The design of the system provides "plugs" for interfacing with external applications, and these would likely be useful in interfacing with the University's current E-Forms strategy.

Data Warehousing Strategy

Data Warehousing Strategy

Use of Oracle means data would be easily accessible to create a warehouse. ODBC implementation implies a variety of tools could get to the data for analysis. Will provide am alternative to Oracle's OLAP product in the future.

Data Integration

Data Integration Issues

Level of integration, degree of data redundancy, quality of information catalog and naming standards are not known. ODBC implementation allows access from a variety of popular tools.

Application Integration

Application Integration Issues

All applications are developed using consistent tools and programming languages.

Presentation Integration

Presentation Integration Issues

High likelihood that separate applications will have inconsistent presentations.

Operational Integration

Operational Integration Issues

Appearance of consistent tools and mechanisms for handling security, software upgrades, and ongoing production operation. More study is needed.



Vendor Assessment -- PeopleSoft

General Comments

PeopleSoft, founded in 1987, is a major client/server software vendor that has a growing presence in higher education and is currently being implemented by the University's Medical Center. A number of peer institutions, such as Cornell, Michigan, and Cal. State, have entered partnerships with PeopleSoft in the past year to replace all of their core administrative applications. Within the state higher education system, JMU is a PeopleSoft customer and appears to be farther along than most other higher education institutions in implementing the company's products. In 1996 PeopleSoft established a higher education division and has been enhancing its base products for this environment. Some products in the areas of human resources, finance, and student admissions are currently available. In 1997 the company will roll out a higher education version of its budget system and will begin development of a grants management system and remaining student system components.

A general strength of PeopleSoft as a company is that it takes a global view of technology, i.e. it demonstrates an awareness of current developments in computer technology and a willingness to embrace the best elements and integrate them in its system. There are some inconsistencies, however, in the level of "openness" and broad appeal in the company's delivered product. PeopleSoft systems operate on a wide variety of server platforms, but currently only support PC client platforms. The company is working on a Mac client, but JMU told us the company does not seem to be making much headway in this area. The systems will operate on a variety of database platforms including Sybase (our preference), but the systems are built and operated using proprietary PeopleTools which lock the customer in to these particular products.

Despite these limitations, the company is growing very fast. On the one hand this is good because it expands the customer base and helps ensure future financial viability of the company. On the other hand this rapid growth is apparently resulting in software quality and service problems, as evidenced by our discussions with JMU. This school attempted to implement the first version of the human resources system for higher education and found 450 software bugs. PeopleSoft would not correct these problems, but later reimbursed JMU for the time it spent debugging the system on its own.

Another weakness is in the level of data integration between the major human resources and financial components. Although PeopleSoft provides interfaces between these two major databases, data must be stored redundantly and certain key data elements have different names in each database. There is a separate sign-on process and security administration mechanism for each system. The new student system is being integrated with the human resources database as it is built and the company says it will correct the integration problems with financials in the near future.

On the positive side, PeopleSoft has a friendly graphical user interface and a common "look and feel" of these interfaces. Both the UVa Medical Center and JMU report that the tools for tailoring the systems are very good; all required changes to date have been achievable with these tools. The study group was favorably impressed with the workflow management functions demonstrated in the vendor presentation. JMU has not yet used these functions and could not comment on their flexibility. Some tools are provided to handle software upgrades and to manage the day to day operation of the product in a production environment. There appear to be no technical "show stoppers" in terms of implementing this system.

Summary of Fit to Criteria

Criterion
Evaluation
Fit to Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported

Support listed for a variety of server platforms, especially RS/6000 AIX

Workstations Supported

Support for PC only

Network Protocols Supported

TCP/IP

Messaging Standards Supported

MAPI

Databases Supported

Sybase, Oracle, and any "ANSI Standard" SQL server can be used

External Office Products Supported

Only an Excel link to external tools

Openness

Support for Industry Standards

Some. More information needed.

System Architectural Capabilities

Support for n-Tier Design

Scheduler allows multi-tier distribution of workload

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy

Base system is written in C++ with object emphasis

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual/Power Users

No Web interface available at this time, but have announced plans to develop this. Recommend using third-party Web access tools.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

MS Windows look and feel

Alternate Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data

Unknown

Support for Voice Response

Unknown

Support for EDI

Unknown

Support for SPEEDE

Student module has not yet been developed

Security Features

User Authentication

Separate sign-on and security administration processes for HR and Finance

Encryption

None

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools for User Development and Maintenance of Business Rules

Tools are provided. The "tree-based" approach to defining business rules has proven useful at Hospital. Complex business rules must be implemented using "People Code", a proprietary programming language.

Tools for Screen/Report Modifications

Tools are provided.

Preservation of Changes with Software Upgrades

Since most tailoring takes place outside the source code, changes should be preserved. In addition, the Update Manager identifies where changes may need to be made.

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools With Add-on Or External Applications

A full set of tools are provided that would allow development of add-ons to purchased applications or new applications.

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms

The only client platform currently supported is PC.

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools for Distributing Software Changes

Changes to the client software are automatically updated from the server each time the user signs on to the application.

Tools for Operations

Basic set of operational tools are available

Documentation

Printed and electronic documentation is available, as well as a Web site

Customer Service

Vendor claims to have 24-hour customer support; however, one site visit indicated vendor response to be less than satisfactory

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Workflow is implemented within the system, but allows input from external sources such as the University E-Forms system.

Data Warehousing Strategy

Data Warehousing Strategy

Use of Sybase allows university to extract data to a warehouse using known tools. Drill down and implode reporting capabilities provide functionality similar to OLAP.

Data Integration

Data Integration Issues

Two physical databases are used for the full system; separate sign-ons are required. PeopleSoft reports that it only keeps redundant data where necessary to enhance application performance. Independent data dictionary stores information on data elements for use in system help screens. No naming standards were evident from their demonstration. In addition, new fields could be added without conformance to any standards.

Application Integration

Application Integration Issues

Within each major software category (Human Resources, Financials, Student), the applications are integrated, but there is currently no integration across categories. PeopleSoft is currently working toward this goal.

Presentation Integration

Consistency of Presentation Issues

Presentation appeared to be consistent with the MS Windows standard. Some question about consistency of actual screen functionality between financial modules and HR modules.

Operational Integration

Operational Integration Issues

Separate mechanisms for security and rights administration; software upgrade process is consistent; same production support tools available for all systems




Vendor Assessment - SAP

General Comments

SAP was founded as a mainframe application software vendor in 1972. With 5,800 customers, its current client/server-based software is the most widely used software of its kind in the world. In May of this year, SAP established an "Industry Center of Expertise" for the Public Sector, which includes Higher Education. The company currently has higher education versions of human resources and financial applications. While no firm commitment has been made, the company is considering the development of student applications, possibly by 1998. SAP has been used by higher education institutions in Europe for some time, but there are currently only three customers in this hemisphere: University of Toronto, Duke University, and MIT.

The "openness" of SAP's technical architecture, integration of data and software, and flexibility of the applications to be tailored are three major reasons for the company's universal appeal. The product appears to have been built with a single system design philosophy. While the limited scope of this study did not allow confirmation, SAP says that all functions are integrated across all components of the system, business transactions are stored in only one place and are immediately available from anywhere in the system, and there is no data redundancy. The product appears to have extensive tailoring capabilities. For example, screens can be modified to display only authorized functions, to add icons to represent frequently used functions, and to carry pre-loaded data to reduce data entry effort. Also, new data elements can easily be added to the database. The product's adherence to standards allow linkage of SAP records to external data, such as spreadsheets, graphics, and scanned images, as well.

SAP has what it calls a "total solution focus" which provides a complete development, maintenance, and operating environment. Tools are provided to develop and maintain additional software in-house that can be added to the delivered SAP applications or to develop completely independent applications. Also, integrated systems management tools are provided to perform such functions as computer job scheduling, workload balancing, performance monitoring, and software change management.

All of the tailoring capabilities and system management functionality may come at a price. The implementation costs of SAP are rumored to be high because of the complexity of the product.

SAP product will be "Web-enabled" by the end of this year. All screens in its current applications will be accessible via a browser. It is probably safe to assume that since SAP invests 20% of its revenues in research and development, the product will remain technically current for some time to come. There are no apparent technical "show stoppers" in terms of implementing this system.

Summary of Fit to Criteria

Criterion
Best
Good
Poor
Fit to Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported

Supports major Unix server platforms, NT

Workstations Supported

Supports Mac, PC, and X Window Unix (Motif)

Network Protocols Supported

TCP/IP

Messaging Standards Supported

MAPI

Databases Supported

Oracle and others. Sybase will be supported when it has the ability to handle row-level locking.

External Office Products Supported

Base-level - ODBC. Some tools (BrioQuery) have more application level support through BAPI.

Openness

Support for Industry Standards

Support for Kerberos. Founding member of OAG. Etc.

System Architectural Capabilities

Support for n-Tier Design

Support for n-tier design, 3-tier architecture.

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy

Planned support for Java, CORBA.

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual/Power Users

The vendor is developing a browser add-in that will allow the various application screens to operate within a standard browser. Alternative interfaces to Web front-ends -- SQL, BAPI, ActiveX

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Reasonable GUI, however navigation appears complex..

Alternate Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data

Can link external data, including scanned images, to the master records

Support for Voice Response

Unknown

Support for EDI

Unknown, but popularity of product in the commercial world means EDI is very likely supported

Support for SPEEDE

Unknown

Security Features

User Authentication

Unknown

Encryption

Unknown

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools for User Development and Maintenance of Business Rules

Tool set provided for adding/modifying business rules. Appears easy to use.

Tools for Screen/Report Modifications

Extensive capabilities for tailoring screens and reports. Tool provided for creating new screens and reports.

Preservation of Changes with Software Upgrades

Unknown

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools with Add-on Or External Applications

Complete set of tools are provided for developing new applications or for adding new functions to purchased applications.

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms

One version works on all platforms.

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools for Distributing Software Changes

Both "push" and "pull" is supported for distributing software changes, i.e. can either distribute the software to all workstations at once or allow workstations to download latest version of software when the user signs on

Tools for Operations

Some tools are provided for monitoring processes.

Documentation

A Web site is provided for contacting SAP or getting information. Ample documentation is available.

Customer Service

It is believed that complete customer service is provided; however, further investigation of this is warranted.

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic forms and workflow are built into the applications. Since the workflow database will accept outside "events", it is likely this mechanism could be used to interface with University's current E-forms system.

Data Warehousing Strategy

Data Warehousing Strategy

One solution used the same database for both transaction processing and the warehouse processing; the separate database schema used a star schema. Access tools to the warehouse via their BAPI were limited

Data Integration

Data Integration Issues

All applications are integrated into a single database. Currently, SAP does not support Sybase as one of their supported databases because Sybase does not provide row-level locking. It appeared that redundancy is used where appropriate. Information catalog was excellent, most robust catalog we have seen. Naming standards are not known, but if the catalog is an indication would be pretty good. Under the BAPI the access tools were limited

Application Integration

Application Integration Issues

Vendor says all functions are integrated across all applications. Consistent tools/programming languages.

Presentation Integration

Presentation Integration Issues

High level of consistency between applications

Operational Integration

Operational Integration Issues

Common mechanism for security and rights administration and software upgrades; common and extensive tool set for ongoing production support

Vendor Assessment -- SCT

General Comments

SCT was founded in 1968 and is a provider of application software services in education, government, public/private utilities, cable/telecommunications, and manufacturing/distribution markets. It currently has 1,015 higher education customers in the United States. Within the state, Virginia Tech and the University of Richmond are customers. A full product line for higher education is available. In the past the product has been more popular with small- to medium-sized institutions and community college systems; however, the company has recently undertaken a "Complex Institutions Strategy" to incorporate functions needed by large, research institutions.

SCT's Banner system appears to be well-integrated. It features a fully-integrated database and application functions covering student, financial, and human resource aspects of higher education. Virginia Tech will be going into production with the human resources system in January and with the alumni development system sometime next year. The admissions, financial aid, and finance modules have just been purchased by the school and SCT may be a viable purchase option for the remaining student systems in the future. While Virginia Tech plans to implement the alumni modules virtually unchanged, it has done extensive tailoring of the delivered screens and business rules in the human resources system. Tech reported that all tailoring was accomplished with SCT's tailoring tools and no new rules had to be written. This is probably due in part to Tech's success in negotiating with SCT to change its base product to accommodate the needs of a large university. Should UVa decide to partner with SCT, the changes already made by Virginia Tech could be leveraged.

Virginia Tech said it receives good technical support from SCT, but in some cases they are learning together. SCT's Banner System was built from the ground up as a distributed, non-mainframe system, but until recently it had not been implemented in a way to take full advantage of client/server architecture in which the client workstation can play an important processing role. Tech is implementing the system as a full client/server system and has had to plow some new technical ground in doing this. The institution expects to be able to support its 800 administrative client workstations with the architecture they now have in place.

SCT Banner is built on and will only operate with Oracle, not the database manager of choice for UVa, but an acceptable vendor. The level of integration between SCT and Oracle is very tight; a partnership with SCT essentially means a partnership with Oracle as well. Virginia Tech confirmed rumors that Oracle is difficult to work with. Higher education customers appear to have had little leverage with the company in the past, as evidenced by its lukewarm support of Mac. Oracle has been known to release capabilities for the PC environment as much as a year before it releases the same capabilities for the Mac environment. The recent establishment of a higher education division within the company may help correct this problem in the future. On the positive side, Oracle is releasing new technical functionality and performance improvements at a fast clip, so fast in fact that Tech is having trouble keeping up with these changes.

The current SCT user interface lacks a graphical capability in some of its components and more closely resembles "character cell" screens. The vendor indicated it is working on upgrading to graphical user interfaces for all of its components. The company demonstrated an interesting Web interface to its student systems and has committed to developing like interfaces for other functional areas. SCT plans to continue supporting multiple interface platforms which will give customers options for different user audiences. Overall, the study group saw no "show stoppers" which would prevent implementation of this system.

Summary of Fit to Criteria

Criterion
Evaluation
Fit to Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported

Use of Oracle ensures support of RS/6000 AIX and other platforms.

Workstations Supported

Windows, Mac, UNIX, and even character terminals supported.

Network Protocols Supported

TCP/IP & others supported due to Oracle development.

Messaging Standards Supported

Messaging is internal and not open.

Databases Supported

Oracle is used exclusively as a database.  Although Sybase is preferred, this option is acceptable.

External Office Products Supported

Oracle base means data would be accessible to variety of applications. Tools themselves do not link to other applications.

Openness

Support for Industry Standards

Supports standards supported by Oracle

System Architectural Capabilities

Support for n-Tier Design

Dependence on Oracle creates an apparent 2-tier only system.

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy

Looking toward Oracle implementation of objects, CORBA compliance, and JAVA development.

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual/Power Users

Available for student system, under development for HR system, not available for financial system. Uses conventional CGI Web tools.

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Limited GUI support today. Major upgrade promised near future. Support for different interfaces may be an advantage for some high-volume data entry users.

Alternate Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data

Working on integrating Wang Open Image

Support for Voice Response

Supports EPOS

Support for EDI

Unknown

Support for SPEEDE

Unknown

Security Features

User Authentication

Oracle security in conjunction with stored procedures creates a secure environment.

Encryption

Oracle server supports SSM.

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools for User Development and Maintenance of Business Rules

Dependence on stored procedures means business rules will need to be maintained by programmers.  Tools for updating tables by end user are provided, however. "Synonym Tables" feature appears to allow different sets of rules for each school. SCT is currently working on a "Complex Institutions Strategy" to provide more sophisticated rules capabilities.

Tools for Screen/Report Modifications

Oracle tools allow reformatting of screens and reports.

Preservation of Changes with Software Upgrades

Since SCT sends only updates (as opposed to full copies) from previous versions, the risk of overlaying changed business rules is minimized. Customized screens are preserved if SCT naming conventions are used in modifying the screens.

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools With Add-on Or External Applications

SCT's product is developed using Oracle developer tools, which can be used to develop new applications or add-ons to SCT applications.

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms

A Windows 95 version of client software serves as the base software, which is then run through an Oracle tool to generate different versions for other client platforms..

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools for Distributing Software Changes

Changes are initiated from the server side and are successful if the workstation is operational at the time of the update. Otherwise, the client is notified at next logon of the need to schedule a manual update to the client software.

Tools for Operations

Vendor indicated the availability of third-party packages for production control.

Documentation

Virginia Tech indicates documentation is limited

Customer Service

Vendor has 24-hour telephone, E-mail, and Web support

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Electronic form and workflow are imbedded in the product. There is no current mechanism provided by SCT to interface these capabilities with the University's current E-forms strategy, although the company is currently evaluating alternatives.

Data Warehousing Strategy

Data Warehousing Strategy

Use of Oracle allows copies of data to be easily extracted from operational system, and allows system to interface with commonly used analysis packages.

Data Integration

Data Integration Issues

All applications are integrated into only a single Oracle physical database. Redundancy is used where appropriate. Help information is stored within the system, but does not interface with the University Information Catalog. Internal name standards are consistent within the application, and comparable to university standards. Use of Oracle and stored procedures provides a flexible, "safe" interface with other applications.

Application Integration

Application Integration Issues

Product appears to be well-integrated. Common tools are used throughout, although some legacy COBOL code is still in the product.

Presentation Integration

Presentation Integration Issues

Screens are consistent, but don't take advantage of "GUI" technology. Upgrade promised soon. High degree of consistency in Web interface.

Operational Integration

Operational Integration Issues

Common mechanisms for security and rights administration and software upgrades; few production operation tools provided, and these are from Oracle not SCT, but those that are provided consistent for all systems



Advantages And Implications of Implementing Enterprise-Wide

Client/Server Systems

Below is a discussion of the major advantages of implementing client/server applications at the University. Associated with each of these advantages are implications for the institution and recommendations of steps that the University can take, now, to ensure an easier and more productive transition to a new mechanism for providing administrative applications.

The advantages, implications, and recommendations hold true whether we choose an integrated approach, a "best of breed" approach, or a hybrid approach. The actions that the study group has suggested will be needed under any scenario where C/S systems are contemplated, and need not wait until an actual procurement decision is made.

Processing Distribution To The Desktop

One major advantage of client/server systems is that some of the processing can be distributed to the desktop. This allows the application to take advantage of the graphical presentation and computational capabilities of the desktop workstation. Some implications of this advantage and recommendations are:

Greater Control For Departments

A second advantage of client/server technology is that departments have greater control over their portion of the system. This control can take the form of responsibilities for tailoring the applications and/or for actually administering the operation of portions of the application(s). Some implications of this advantage and recommendations are:

Greater Accessibility To Information

A third advantage of client/server technology is that it provides greater accessibility to information from many more customers (from 1,000s to 10,000s). Some implications of this advantage and recommendations are:

Greater System Scalability

A fourth advantage of client/server technology is that it allows more flexibility in scaling the system. This means that the systems can be combined or broken apart as needs dictate. Different modules can be run on different machines to maximize performance, and sub-units can have different hardware configurations, as needed. Implications of this advantage and recommendations are:

Conclusions

While the scope and schedule for this technical study has been limited, the group does feel that all four vendors evaluated are potential partners in a technical sense and are worthy of further study. The viability of these vendors from a business function, financial stability, and other perspectives will obviously also need to be considered. It is clear all four vendors have weaknesses, but customers we visited expressed confidence that their vendor partners were diligently working on improvements. Both JMU and Virginia Tech had difficulties in the early stages of their relationships with their vendors, but say they have worked through these problems. They also faulted themselves for contributing to some of the problems. They are both taking strong ownership for the success of their implementations, but appear to be effectively leveraging their partnerships to accomplish this. The schools are committed to using as much of what has been delivered by the vendors as possible and are using the vendors' tailoring tools to adjust the products where there is not a good fit. They stated they were able to use the tailoring tools to do all the necessary modifications. Both JMU and Virginia Tech said that from a technical perspective, given the chance to make the decision again, they would choose an integrated solution and the same vendor partner.

All of the vendors studied come with development tools that could be used to develop and integrate software functionality not provided in the vendors' products. To varying degrees, the vendors also provide tools for modifying business rules, screens, and reports and for managing the ongoing production operation of the applications. With these capabilities, these vendor solutions have the potential to be complete administrative application environments for both purchased and in-house-developed applications. They are complex and would require significant training to support them well. Once learned, however, the consistency of technical tools and procedures across systems would allow the technical staff to provide better development and ongoing support services than would ever be possible with today's environment. The backing of a major software company would help ensure this new environment stays technically current and supportable in the future as well. Given the complexity of all these products, study group members are unanimous in their belief that providing technical support for multiple comprehensive environments such as these, as would be necessary in a best-of-breed implementation approach, would be untenable.

The transition to enterprise-wide client/server applications represents not just a significant technical challenge for the University, but also a change that will impact central administrative and user departments in a major way. Roles and responsibilities will change, greater consistency in workstation hardware and software may be needed, new procedures for review and approval of application software changes will be required, training needs will change, etc. The study group has identified some of these key changes and made recommendations for initiating these changes. These actions are required regardless of which approach the University chooses for procuring new applications and need not wait until an actual procurement decision is made. The study group advises that these actions be initiated as soon as possible.


Appendix A

Summary of Assessment Criteria

Criterion
Best
Good
Poor
Fit to Current Environment

Server Platforms Supported

Support for AIX and other major Unix platforms as well as Windows NT

Support for a major Unix platform

No support for major Unix platforms

Workstations Supported

Support for Windows 3.1/95/NT, Macintosh, and Unix/X-Windows

Support for Windows 3.1/95/NT and possibly either Macintosh or Unix/X-Windows

No support for Windows 3.1/95/NT

Network Protocols Supported

Support for the TCP/IP suite of protocols

N/A

No support for the TCP/IP suite of protocols

Messaging Standards Supported

Support for MAPI

N/A

No support for MAPI

Databases Supported

Sybase or other leading database products

Sybase only or another leading database only

Proprietary database only

External Office Products Supported

Vendor products are ODBC-compliant, meaning that they "talk to" any office products that adhere to this standard.

Vendor provides a proprietary interface to popular office products.

No access to popular office products is provided.

Openness

Support for Industry Standards

Support for open standards in all of the above areas

Support for many open standards along with a few proprietary products/functions

Little support of open standards; many proprietary products/functions

System Architectural Capabilities

Support for N-Tier Design

Support for a 3-tier (or n-tier) architecture

N/A

Support for a 2-tier architecture

Future Technical Direction

Object Technology Strategy

Current support for object technology

Clearly stated strategy for supporting object technology in the future

No object technology strategy

Presentation Features

Web Support for Casual/Power Users

Currently supports Web-based application software to provide end user queries

Currently in development and scheduled for release within next 6 months

No implementation strategy for Web-based queries

Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Currently has a Web-like or Microsoft Windows-like GUI

Currently has some graphical features, but not robust GUI

Currently has character-based screens

Alternate Data Input/Output Capabilities

Ability to Store Scanned Data

True multi-media application that can incorporate images within screens, etc.

Can link to third-party software to display images

Does not support images

Support for Voice Response

Supports EPOS in the current version

Supports a popular voice response system

Propriety voice response system or none

Support for EDI

Either local EDI or exports to commonwealth EDI service

Local EDI only

User interface required

Support for SPEEDE

Full support integrated into the product

General EDI export capability

User interface required

Security Features

User Authentication

Current support for standard authentication schemes such as Kerberos

Clearly stated strategy for supporting standard authentication schemes in the future

No standard authentication strategy

Encryption

Current support for standard encryption schemes

Clearly stated strategy for supporting standard encryption schemes in the future

No encryption strategy

Tailoring Capabilities

Tools for User Development and Maintenance of Business Rules

Business rules easily entered; complex rules handled

Tools available for entering rules, but not easy to use or doesn't support complex rules

No tool available

Tools for Screen/Report Modifications

Tool provides extensive capability and is easy to use

Tool available, but not easy to use or has limited capability

No tool available

Preservation of Changes with Software Upgrades

Changes are preserved automatically

Changes are preserved, but with human intervention

Changes not preserved

Development Environment

Ability To Use Supplied Tools With Add-on Or External Applications

Tools support complex development needs

Tools not as robust

No tools provided

Single Source Code Version Across Platforms

Single version of source code works on all platforms.

No more than two versions of source code required for all platforms.

Unique version of source code required for every platform.

Ongoing Support Assistance

Tools for Distributing Software Changes

Mechanism for the latest software versions to be stored on a server; there is a choice of either distributing it to the workstation at once or distributing it when the user needs it for the first time

Same as "best", but there is only one way to distribute the software

No automatic mechanism provided

Tools for Operations

Package provides complete suite of tools to monitor and control all production processes

Incomplete set of tools provided; third-party tools must be available and work with the application package

Incomplete or no tools provided; unknown if third-party tools will work with the package

Documentation

Well documented in electronic format with optional paper

Well documented on paper only

Quality of documentation is poor

Customer Service

Well staffed help lines available 24 hours, with other support such as Web pages

Help lines staffed with junior level technicians, or not available 24 hours a day

Support is of poor quality, not available when needed, or incomplete

Electronic Forms and Workflow Strategy

Integration with University E-Forms Strategy

Better strategy than is currently used at the University is provided

A mechanism is provided for interfacing vendor's applications with the University's e-forms system

No mechanism provided

Integration of workflow in applications

Data Warehousing Strategy

Data Warehousing Strategy

Provides better capabilities than our current strategy, for example, greater reporting capability, more robust information, easier mechanism for loading data into the warehouse, provides an easier mechanism for loading data information into the information catalog

Facilitates continuing use of current warehouse

No warehouse strategy or a strategy that uses the same database for transaction processing and warehouse processing

Data Integration

Data Integration

Single data base or multiple data bases that appear to be one, a single model of data, limited redundancy, single source point for data entry, an excellent information catalog, excellent data naming standards that are used

Same as "best", except information catalog is basic or non-existent

Multiple data bases without ability to appear as one, significant redundancy, multiple source points for entering data, no information catalog, no naming standards

Application Integration

Application Integration

Software code is shared to high degree; common programming languages; common tailoring tools

Software code shared to lesser degree; common programming languages; common tailoring tools

Little shared code and/or tools and languages are inconsistent

Presentation Integration

Consistency of Presentation

All screens and reports in ALL applications within the suite of products have similar look, feel, and operation

All screens and reports within an application have a similar look, fell, and operation

Screens and reports are not consistent

Operational Integration

Operational Integration

All vendor systems use the same security and rights administration functions, have the same mechanism for upgrading software, and are managed by the same production support tools

There is less consistency in the security and rights administration functions and/or in software upgrade mechanisms, but the production support tools are consistent

Production support tools are inconsistent

 

Appendix B

Integrated System Definition

Last Update:  August 6, 1996


This definition of an Integrated System identifies characteristics arranged in the broad categories of  Data Issues, Application Issues, Presentation Issues, and Operational Issues.  A brief name of the characteristic is given, followed by a paragraph defining the characteristic. While the degree of integration is likely to vary from product to product, an ideal integrated system would have all of the characteristics listed below.

Data Issues

Application Issues

Presentation Issues

Operational Issues

Suitable tests for identifying these characteristics within a system will depend on the exact implementation used by the vendor.  These tests cannot be defined in advance, but must be adapted based on initial review of vendor information and discussions with the vendor during presentations.


Return to the Integrated Systems Project Home Page

Site maintained by kat4w@virginia.edu
Updated January 12, 1999