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					Project title: UCLA URSA2 – Java Re-write

Submitter’s name, title, and contact information

Candace Jones
Project Manager, Admissions and Distributed Technologies
UCLA, Administrative Information Systems
(310) 206-1621

Names of project leader(s) and team members

Project Manager: Edith Celestine, Director of Student Applications
Project Lead: Sultan Jinnah
Project Team: Sultan Jinnah, Norma Morelock, Mark Stejskal, Viral Shah, Bhaumik Patel,
Jyothi Rudraraju, and Candace Jones

A summary paragraph that highlights the significance of the project (about 100

University Records System Access (URSA) is a web based system for students to easily
access and update their academic and personal information. URSA was first made available
in August 1996, and in February 2002 another major renovation was released. As new
technologies become available, old technologies become obsolete, and those utilized by the
URSA application as of 2007 were ready for retirement given MicroSoft’s removal of support
for Visual Basic /COM. AIS management requested the Distributed Technologies team,
responsible for the support of URSA and also Shared Web Services, renovate both as Java
applications. This project positively impacted UCLA’s ability to serve students by improving
application availability, performance and overall online student services.

A project description (not to exceed 5 pages), including relevant URLs


Project description:

University Records System Access (URSA) is a web based system for students to more
easily access and update their academic and personal information. URSA was first made
available in August 1996 and in February 2002 a major renovation was released. This major
enhancement in 2002 brought URSA current with the business needs, technologies, and
usage interfaces of that time-period.

There is an ever-increasing demand for information access through the internet, and in
response, leading IT companies have reacted by rapidly deploying more robust products to
meet these demands. As new technologies become available, old technologies become
obsolete, and those utilized by the URSA system in 2007 were ready for retirement.
AIS management requested the Distributed Technologies project team, currently
responsible for the support of URSA (the website and its components) and also the Shared
Web Services, renovate both as Java applications. A driving factor in leading the Java
conversion was Microsoft’s elimination of support of VB / COM and the production support
issues related to the unsupported technology. The department believed the conversion to
Java technologies would provide a robust technology framework highly compatible with
other universities and create the foundation for a student portal that integrated with other
UC campuses.

The technology utilized in the project

The project team gave serious consideration to a variety of technologies and AIS’ decision
was to move toward JAVA. The following tools / infrastructure were approved:

   1. IIS – serve as presentation layer web server (phase one – until presentation layer
       could be re-written)
   2. Webshere Application Server (cluster) – serve as Java web service layer
   3. IBM HTTP server powered by Apache
   4. CICS transaction gateway (CTG) – serve as gateway to mainframe
   5. SQL Server database – serve as database for application auditing and other
       housekeeping items
   6. Integrated Development Environment (IDE) - IBM’s Rational Application Developer
   7. JAX-RPC - for Web services interoperability
   8. Message Driven Beans (MDB)
   9. Java Naming and Directory Interface (JNDI)
   10. Java Message Service (JMS)

The timeframe of implementation:

URSA2 project commenced in the summer of 2007 and went to production October 24,

Objective customer satisfaction data (not to exceed 2 pages)

The technology used to re-write the business service layer into Java web services provided
significant value add to the UCLA student population by improving performance, adding new
web services for departments, adding additional URSA functionality and extending hours of

Improving performance:

One great example of improved performance during this project was on a function in URSA
called Find a Class. This function previously called a mainframe program to deliver
opened/closed class list information to students in URSA. This function was completely re-
written to make DB2 calls via Java web services. The improvement in performance was
substantial – previously a 2-3 second wait time, is now milliseconds.
         URSA1 /    URSA     MAINFRAME       TOTAL     MAINFRAME          MAINFRAME
         URSA2     SERVER     REGION       RESP TIME     RESP TIME         CPU TIME
                    NAME                                 (mm:ss.000)        (ss.000)

          URSA1    A10UT1    TSOASIS      2.6718       0.0910            0.0580

          URSA2    U2TWA1    DB2U         0.7812       0.1200            0.0600

New Java web services:

Many UCLA departments rely heavily on data from the various mainframe applications. One
important role that the Distributed Technologies team serves is to provide access to
mainframe data via web services. The new Java web sercvices provide new data objects
that can be leveraged for use by other departments and possibly other campuses.
Currently there are over 30 web services since the launch of URSA2 used by various UCLA
departments including the Registrar’s area, Summer Sessions, and the College of Letters
and Sciences.

Adding functionality: (first Java function in production October 2008)

The BruinAlert implementation was a project that had extreme importance, in light of the
Virginia Tech tragedy, in enabling the University to communicate emergency warnings and
advisories to students and the campus community. The University struggled to get students
to sign-up with their emergency contact information and needed a way to increase visibility
to the project. The BruinAlert project accomplished this goal and was the first URSA feature
to leverage the new Java technology which is versatile, efficient, platform independent, and

Within a few months of go-live, the BruinAlert Java functioned increased student emergency

Total Student Sign-up:

14,536 Pre-URSA Java implementation
18,853 Post-URSA Java implementation

Net increase: 4,317

Extending hours of URSA availability:

The first phase of UCLA’s ability to increase hours of availability was to allow access to all
URSA functions that rely solely on DB2. In the past, URSA was an all or nothing web
application that was dependent on the mainframe batch processing window. As part of the
Java conversion, UCLA was able to allow student’s access to URSA 24 hours a day for all
view functions such as viewing grades, class lists, schedule of classes, viewing addresses
etc…. This access went into production in December of 2009 and is well received by the
student population.


Overall, the success of the URSA2 Java business service layer re-write has enabled the
department to provide a robust technology infrastructure that is highly reliable, performs
well, and increases value to the entire UCLA student population and the areas that support
student services. The transition to Java has positioned the department well for future
initiatives at UCLA to improve student services. These future phases include a re-write of
the presentation layer of the URSA application into JSP, providing new web services for new
functionality, and continued enhancements of existing web services. The URSA2 project has
successfully improved performance, provided new web services to the campus, added new
functionality, and extended hours of availability for the URSA application. The department
looks forward to future collaboration between UCLA departments and other UC campuses.