Thin down your Forms - Bulk up your potential

Risk prevention is a major consideration for any organization and is a major theme of any information technology solution. A successful IT project is one that both minimizes operational risk while enabling new capabilities and increased productivity.

The Saskatchewan Teachers' Federation (STF) recently completed an upgrade to their Oracle based software systems. This was an important step as the previous technical environment had served for many years and was no longer supported by Oracle Corporation. The upgrade of their Oracle Forms and Reports software to the latest 10g version ensures that their business can continue to operate without the risk of their software systems ceasing to run. In addition to the 10g upgrade, the STF also virtualized their environment with VMWare and upgraded their online applications powered by Oracle Portal technologies.

The move to new, supported, Forms and Reports version was important. Care was taken not to introduce additional risk in the process. Detailed planning and project management facilitated an efficient and on-time delivery. A disciplined approach to change management ensured software changes were made only where necessary. Of course, an established migration methodology including manual and automated testing was applied throughout the project to consistently deliver high quality results.

The move to this new thin-client technical architecture not only reduced risk but also benefited the STF by introducing many new integration possibilities. As the new 10g Forms and Reports are now thin client and web accessible, other web technologies can be introduced that work directly with the existing systems. It is also possible to secure and publish parts of the existing system over the Internet, allowing the STF's members direct and real-time access to pertinent information.

This integrated thin client Forms approach is also recommended by Oracle and lets the STF strategically benefit from being aligned with Oracle's product road map; an integrated and streamlined technical environment can reduce IT complexity to save significant future costs. The STF realized immediate returns by being able to continue using their existing applications, avoiding costly and lengthy rewrites into separate technologies. Additional savings were also realized through virtualization with VMware thus maximizing usage of existing hardware.

6i STF Contact System

10gR2 STF Contact System in 'Khaki', 'Browser' and 'Generic' presentation schemes.

A total of 24 software applications were upgraded during the 8 month project. Within those 8 months, servers were setup and deployed, software was installed and configured, and all twenty-four applications were analyzed, migrated and fully tested. Completion of this exhaustive list of work in such a short period highlights ESTI's proven Forms upgrade methodology.

ESTI's approach to Forms modernization combines the consistency and thoroughness of automation with the attention to detail and intelligence of manual processes. Advanced custom built migration tools allow ESTI to analyze applications to identify all possible workflows as well as areas prone to difficulty during a 10g upgrade. During migration, a filtering process is performed on the Forms and Reports to apply uniform functionality and appearance across all systems. Finally, before the migrated software is turned over to the client for testing, ESTI performs a complete manual Quality Assurance test of all systems using procedures tuned through usage in many previous migration projects.

The success of an IT project is always dependant upon the people involved. STF IT staff were involved in project management, desktop support functions and user acceptance testing. This allowed everyone to become familiar with the new system before its release as well as ensured that the staff properly tested the components they work with on a day to day basis. ESTI was able to use their experience in 10gR2 migrations and VMWare virtualization to help setup the new environment at the STF and provide a smooth upgrade.

STF Core Project Team

  • Mike Elchuk - IT Manager
  • Collin Seebach - Information Systems Support Specialist
  • Jarod Ofstie - Senior IT Analyst

ESTI Core Project Team

  • Daniel Simair - Principal Analyst (Project Manager)
  • Lawrence Cheng - Senior Analyst (Client Relations)
  • Jeff Banow - Principal Analyst (Quality Assurance)
  • Dan Surkan - Analyst (Lead Developer)
  • Chris Baranski - Analyst (Virtualization)