Since 1887, Pomona College in Claremont, California, has offered degrees in humanities, fine arts, social and natural sciences to its carefully selected population of approximately 1,400 students. Like all colleges and universities, Pomona’s critical challenge is controlling costs to sustain efficient operations while managing large amounts of information to track and support its student body.
Pomona has developed an IT solution that addresses budgetary issues and provides superior access and management to its operation-critical business and student information. At the heart of this solution resides System 1032, the DEC-based database management software from Computer Corporation of America.
In 1980, Pomona began working with CCA’s DBMS System 1022. When System 1022 advanced to System 1032, Jack Quinlan, Director of Administrative Computing, took this opportunity to work with his staff of three programmers to define Pomona’s idea of the perfect system. Quinlan, now a 16-year veteran of Pomona’s IT department, led his team through a DBMS review process that considered a wide variety of implementations and user scenarios. The team wanted to create a system that could service the college’s current IT requirements and continue to be effective and efficient well into the future.
“We wanted to be sure that System 1032 was stable and robust enough to fit our growing needs before we made any changes,” said Quinlan. “We provide critical information to all aspects of the college – in this environment, delays, mistakes and inflexibility are not acceptable.”
Pomona College converted to System 1032 during the 1991-1992 school year. Pomona has continued its investment in CCA’s DEC-based system because the database engine addresses the college’s primary need: fast, easy-to-use, cost-effective information management.
The System 1032 application development environment is designed to support the OpenVMS user community with high-performance, flexible and easy-to-manage database technology. Quinlan and his team developed Pomona’s System 1032 applications from concept through execution, creating a menu-driven system written in PL1032 code. Their planning and foresight enabled them to create a system that grows and advances in stride with the college’s demands and apace with technology’s advancements.
“We particularly value the ability 1032 gives us to quickly adapt to the changing needs of our administrative customers by adding and modifying customized applications,” said Quinlan.
The application tracks all aspects of student data from initial interviews and enrollment through registration and the accumulation of academic records, up to and beyond graduation. Pomona’s 1032 application has approximately 400 datasets and 1,200 procedures; it is completely integrated across the entire college and supports up to 100 concurrent administrative users at any one time. The records can be accessed by 35 different college units, offices, or office subsets. System 1032 offers all the functionality required to address Pomona’s current IT needs and is capable of accommodating significant growth.
System 1032 is traditionally known for its capabilities with extremely large datasets. While this is true, Pomona cites the system’s ease-of-use and speed as its most valuable characteristics. All three – capacity, ease-of-use and speed – can be attributed to the system’s flawless integration with the DEC Alpha and VAX platforms.
“We can bring novice computer users into any office at Pomona College and on their first or second day they can run our System 1032 on their own. They can read the functionality from its menus and select the item they want to run,” said Quinlan. “It’s that easy.”
Another advantage to Pomona’s implementation of System 1032 are libraries of recurring procedures. Some are independent procedures that are accessible to all the system’s users; others are designed to allow code to be reused without requiring the programming staff to rewrite its functionality.
“It saves us a lot of time when we create new applications,” said Quinlan. “All the code is tested and already in use, so we are confident that it will work and be compatible with existing programs.”
In addition to System 1032’s ease-of-use, Pomona users are very satisfied with its rapid processing. “Studies have shown that if users have to wait more than a few seconds for a response from a system, they get irritated,” stated Quinlan. “System 1032 usually responds almost instantaneously, which keeps our users satisfied and productive. Although we know there is one, we can’t place a quantitative dollar value on a satisfied customer.
“With CCA and System 1032, we’ve found a system that really works for us,” continued Quinlan. “We are integrated across the school and System 1032 can do anything we want it to do.