Banner gets a system upgrade – many services affected

Posted on Saturday, March 19, 2016

banner-infographic-500channelsBy Gabrielle Krim

McGill will be upgrading Banner, the University’s enterprise repository of data for administrative systems, including student records, human resources, finance and student aid. The upgrade will take place over four days, from noon on Friday, April 1, to noon on Tuesday, April 5, during which time many administrative services for the University will be unavailable (see the list of services impacted).

This upgrade brings no new functionality – its main purpose is to bring the software version up to date in order to continue receiving support from the vendor, and also to prepare the system for new functionality to be implemented in a later phase of the project. The underlying hardware and software are also being upgraded to provide a more robust platform, which will improve the longevity of the system.

Why does the upgrade entail a four-day downtime for mission-critical services, including course registration, applications for admission, ID-carding, etc.? The last upgrade of this magnitude was done in 2010 and required a three-day downtime. It involved eight months of pre-upgrade work to upgrade the software and test the core modules of Banner and Minerva, as well as the 50 or so other applications that integrate with Banner.

Now, six years later, more than 120 applications interface with Banner or use data in the Banner Data Warehouse, the main repository of information about students, employees, courses and their relationships. This time, the upgrade project was launched in April 2015 – nearly a year ago – in order to ensure adequate time for implementation and testing. The project team is comprised of 97 members from within IT Services; an additional 78 people in units such as HR, Finance, Enrolment Services and Teaching & Learning are participating in the project as User Acceptance Testers, just to make sure everything remains the same and nothing breaks.

Christian Champenois, the IT Project Manager, has been dealing with the day-to-day logistics of the project. According to Christian, “The success of a project always hinges on the team and how well they can work together and make things happen. Traditionally, Banner upgrades are always very challenging and this project was no exception. However, on this project, we assembled a dedicated and resourceful team, from both IT Services and other key stakeholder units, that has tackled and resolved everything that was put in front of them without missing a beat and in a remarkable fashion.”

Students, faculty and staff members, who interact with Banner through Minerva, the self-service interface, will not see any changes.

Faculty and administrative staff who use the Banner INB interface or Banner Imaging/ Application Xtender need to know about several changes, including:

  • A new URL for Banner INB
  • New version of Java required
  • New version of Application Xtender (AX) to be installed for imaging
  • VPN connection now required to access INB from outside the McGill network

Find out more about the upgrade, including a complete list of all services affected and details about the changes at Banner-Minerva-Imaging upgrade 2016.


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