Vanderbilt University has migrated its critical business operations to Oracle software and expects to achieve a 185 percent return on its investment running Oracle on Linux. Prompted by a 3,000 percent increase in data growth over the past two years, the Nashville, Tennessee-based university faced budget and cost-containment issues while maintaining several decentralized databases. The institution's information technology team determined that as the university expanded, it was critical to consolidate its vital database and storage needs to improve information access and lower maintenance costs.

Vanderbilt University is now running a three-node data warehouse with Oracle Real Application Clusters on Linux, supporting an alumni development application that went into production in April, as well as the university's academic and financial reporting applications. Vanderbilt chose to migrate its data warehouse from legacy systems to Oracle Real Application Clusters running on Linux to help lower operating costs and improve scalability of its IT infrastructure. The university calculated that it could deploy three low-cost Linux servers for the price of one UNIX server. Vanderbilt also realized that achieving the needed performance and availability from its UNIX platform would be significantly more expensive than it was in the Linux environment.

In all, the university will have a half-terabyte of database capacity on the Linux platform. In addition, the university is testing Oracle's database partitioning and compression capabilities to manage large fact tables and is reviewing Oracle Label Security, a cost effective way to manage secure access to confidential information in the data warehouse.

The need for higher availability, clustering functionality and scalability drove Vanderbilt University to also select Oracle Application Server to replace its existing BEA WebLogic software. Vanderbilt found that Oracle Application Server offered greater scalability and simplified management capabilities compared to its legacy BEA solution. Using Oracle's software, Vanderbilt's IT staff now addresses capacity challenges by simply adding a server to the environment and making minor configuration changes. The school's new Oracle environment will have approximately 30,000 users, consisting of university students, faculty and staff. The university expects users to experience performance increases of up to 50 percent from using features such as Web caching - a feature not available through BEA.

System management was an important consideration for Vanderbilt. With exponential growth in storage needs, Vanderbilt could not afford the incremental administration of adding 10 or more servers per month. To work around this obstacle, Vanderbilt needed a standardized administrative environment, which it achieved through implementing Oracle Application Server. Today, Vanderbilt can bring a server online in just a few hours and with minimal administrative burden.

Finally, the need for quick access to accurate data drove Vanderbilt's decision to standardize on the Oracle Database on Linux. The university faced increased demand to integrate information from multiple systems across the university, including its third-party human resources and accounts payable applications, and to deliver the information in a timely manner to its facility and staff.

The university's legacy systems did not provide the information the staff needed to make smart business and planning decisions. For example, Vanderbilt's medical center managers could not analyze the number of full time employees (FTEs) being used in relation to the census, or number of FTEs leveraged per emergency room visit. With Oracle, vital statistical data from various systems are integrated into the data warehouse, which is then easily accessed by decision makers when needed. Vanderbilt can now effectively manage hospital resources with the goal of reducing operating costs and improving care.

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