Information Services

New Home! Collaborative effort helps to migrate databases from End-of-Life infrastructure

Teams from across the University of Edinburgh’s (UoE) Information Services department (ISG) and beyond have to come together to migrate key service databases from servers that are set to be shut down.

Ladder going into clouds

Physical servers used to host the University’s Oracle databases are reaching End-of-Life (EOL) as already extended hardware contracts expired earlier this year.

These databases contain essential information vital to the functioning of the University. To secure the future of these databases a solution has been identified to move all Oracle databases to virtual infrastructure over a series of migration projects.

The latest migration project builds on the success of two previous successful projects and has worked to migrate some of the University’s larger services.

Teams from  Project Services, Development, Production, ITI Enterprise Unix and multiple business areas around the university have collaborated to overcome a series of challenges and complete the migrations against demanding time constraints. 

Databases which have been successfully migrated are:

  • JIRA – Our system for recording and managing project issues
  • NEWS – Holding information for nine strategic reporting solutions
  • EBIS – An Estates database for systems that include WebCentral, Archibus client and mobile devices
  • APPS – A shared database holding information for 25 systems
  • FEED – A database used to provide LTW interface information
  • MYED – Our staff and student portal service
  • PURE – A database for our research information system
  • HR – A Human Resources database for multiple applications
  • FIN – A finance database for applications that include eFinancials, Salary Forecasting and Finance MyEd Channels

Stefan Kaempf, Acting Director of Applications Division, said: “Over the last 10 years virtual infrastructure has replaced physical infrastructure, providing better management and flexibility.

“Several University core systems continued to rely on physical infrastructure as they were designed on dedicated infrastructure to match the high demand in computer power. Time has passed and the virtual infrastructure is able to provide the needed capacity and computing power.

“The project to migrate the remaining University databases to virtual infrastructure has been a great success, not only has the move been smooth – both technically as well as for the business – but has also met the deadline where the physical infrastructure became unsupported!”

The shift to virtual infrastructure brings a number of benefits, including:

  • More effective and individualised management for databases hosted on their own virtual server
  • Running on an up-to-date operating system (Centos 7 Linux)
  • Capability to fail servers across sites
  • Cost reductions in hardware, operating system licensing, database licensing, and associated manpower costs.
  • Intangible benefits, including uniform database image, increased reliability, flexibility and availability. 

Moreover, as well as tackling physical server EOL the latest project also addressed operating EOL, as the move to virtual infrastructure also enables ITI Enterprise Unix to address EOL within their area.

 Graeme Wood, Enterprise Services Manager, said: “Enterprise Services is pleased to have assisted our colleagues in the Applications Directorate with the virtualisation of the infrastructure supporting the databases that form the core data repositories for so many of the University’s core services.

“This work has been ongoing over a number of years and it is great to have reached the milestone of the final physical server decommissioning. This contributes to our sustainability goals and reducing our carbon footprint in our datacentre operations, as well as improving resilience and operational efficiency.”