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Banner upgrade crashes

 Sam Hughes, senior biology major, woke up early Monday morning to sign up for classes. Unfortunately for him and others, Banner and the VSU homepage site were completely shut down.

  “I got on at 7:05 but the time was messed up on banner, so I had to wait like 10 minutes to register,” Hughes said. “I got signed up for summer classes and then the server crashed.”
 About 370 seniors were reported online early Monday morning during the crash.

  Joseph Newton, director of information technology, explained the system’s failure.

 “There were two causes,” Newton said. “About half the times that students attempted to access the actual registration form inside BannerWeb, an error was presented and the form was unavailable.”

 Students attempted to refresh the page, but were locked out of the website entirely, when a “404 Error” showed up instead.

 “The 404 error was likely caused by the Oracle memory issue, which was an issue apparently resulting from our method of memory allocation which worked for us in Banner 7/Oracle 9 but not in Banner 8/Oracle 10,” Newton said. “We modified our method with successful effect on Monday morning by 8:45 a.m.”

 The main VSU website was restored at about 8:10 a.m. and the BannerWeb setback was resolved about 8:45 a.m. According to Newton, by 9:15 a.m., there were about 370 students again accessing the Banner system.

Students have been registering regularly since the incident. The upgrade is suspected to have caused the issue on Monday morning.

The Division of Information Technology recently upgraded its Banner system from Version 7 to Version 8 of the Oracle software. The supporting Oracle database was upgraded from Version 9 to Version 10.

 “These were on new equipment designated for the upgrade,” Newton said.

IT has begun working on the new Oracle database and the way the Banner system collects memory.

“First, our systems administrators worked to re-architect the VSU home page so that the dynamic elements are no longer drawn directly from the database but from static files,”  Newton said. “In this way, if the database for the web site elements fails, the VSU home page will still get static files and not continually try to poll the database for them and effectively fail. Second, the Oracle database supporting the Banner system was re-configured to automatically allocate shared memory. Prior to Version 10 of the Oracle database software, this was not a viable option.”

There have also been updates added every evening to the system to prevent any issues from happening again.

These issues are a first for Newton, and the Banner Web system. Newton explained that the problem provided an insight to issues that were overlooked during the upgrade.

“We have taken significant measures to provide multiple servers and load balancing to spread the load and provide adequate services under peak demand,” he said.

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