Thomas Dessing
Thomas Dessing

Osiris now in the cloud: 'New functionalities available faster'

It may have caused some inconvenience: the maintenance work that caused Osiris to be unavailable for several working days in a row last April. In return, however, it brings several advantages to using this application. Thomas Dessing, head of Student Information & Processes at Academic Affairs, explains the advantages in question.

For many Radboud staff and students, April was a bit of a struggle. 'The impact of a few days without Osiris was great,' Thomas recalls. 'For instance, students were temporarily unable to use it to view their grades and study progress. And for colleagues from Academic Affairs and faculties, among others, it was not possible to enrol or de-enrol, enter grades and register admissions for a few days. This meant they had to keep Excel files as a fallback during that short period, in order to transfer the information to Osiris at a later date once it was available again. This, of course, was not ideal. Half of our colleagues were understanding, while the other half openly expressed difficulty. Nevertheless, the planned maintenance work was necessary.'

Transferring to the cloud

According to Thomas, there was a significant reason for this change. 'The supplier, which provides Osiris to us and other educational institutions, made a number of changes,' he explains. 'Previously, we were offered a release for Osiris once every six months: a package with new and improved functionalities. One of their main changes was that this release would no longer be once every six months, but once a month. This would have a big impact on us as Radboud University. Because we had the Osiris data on our own server, this would in fact mean that we would have to go through an intensive process of doing installations with our technical application administrators every month for each new functionality. Such a monthly cycle takes a lot of time and work. This would not be necessary if we transferred the data for Osiris to a private cloud: a secure server from the supplier, at a different location in the Netherlands. Since this transition would bring more benefits, we decided to transfer to the cloud with our Osiris data.'

Benefits

Thomas sums up the benefits. 'Because we are now in the cloud with Osiris, it means that new functionalities become available to us faster. Previously, we had to wait six months for this. Often, during such a release, a lot of new functionalities would be released all at once. Now they are delivered continuously one by one, so their introduction is more gradual. On top of that, the technical infrastructure from the cloud is specifically aimed at making Osiris function optimally, whereas our infrastructure on the server is also aimed at our other applications. Ultimately, our colleagues should start experiencing benefits thanks to that specific Osiris infrastructure: Osiris is now more stable and even more secure. Another advantage is that Osiris is now the same for us and other educational institutions. That makes it easier to cooperate with other educational institutions in information exchange, among other things.'

Cooperation and ahead of schedule

The transfer to the cloud required intensive work. Within Radboud Services, the Academic Affairs and Information & Library Services divisions worked intensively together on this. 'For this cooperation, there was already a solid foundation from the past few years,' Thomas explains. 'With the semi-annual releases for Osiris, our cooperation was already intensive. Now, with this change, we had to transfer the data from our server to the cloud and then have it imported there. Furthermore, Osiris is connected to other systems of our university via more than 24 automatic links. Think, for example, of financial systems for collecting tuition fees and the HR system that ensures new lecturers get access to Osiris. All these links also had to be transferred to the cloud. Because of all these required transfers, we were forced to take Osiris off the air for several working days in April.'

The latter, however, was new to colleagues. 'In the six-monthly releases of the past, it sometimes happened that Osiris was unavailable on weekends, but colleagues hardly noticed that. So it was not common for such maintenance work to happen on working days. We communicated in advance that Osiris would be down for five working days. We deliberately kept a generous planning, especially taking into account a possible delay due to unforeseen activities. In the end, the transfer was completed after only three days and Osiris became available to colleagues again, ahead of schedule. We received many positive reactions to this. Thanks to the good cooperation with Information & Library Services, we were able to bring this one-off and complicated migration to a success. Together, we have taken an important step for our university to use Osiris in the future.'

Contact information

Organizational unit
Radboud Services