By leveraging IBM DB2 Universal Database 8.2 features such as autonomic computing and Microsoft Corp. .Net application support, Richland School District Two has been able to provide real-time Web access to mission-critical information residing on legacy systems.
"Were a heavily technology-based district, and as far as school districts go, were seen as a technology leader in South Carolina," said Travis Cotton, application developer at Richland School District Two, based in Columbia. "DB2 really allows us to bring our AS/400 into our increasingly Web-centric environment."
IBM released DB2 8.2 in September. The upgrade delivers new features, most prominently autonomic database self-management and self-healing capabilities designed to simplify data management and business process tasks.
Richland School District Two encompasses 25 schools and serves more than 20,000 students and 2,500 staff members. The school district relies on an IBM eServer iSeries (AS/400) for most of its back-end computing needs.
The AS/400 holds a treasure-trove of mission-critical information, including teacher certification records. To stay qualified to teach students certain subjects, a teacher must be certified by the state of South Carolina by taking courses or attending seminars. Every time a teacher takes a course, he or she is required to submit paperwork to a local school representative, who then forwards the forms to Richland School District Twos administrative offices in Columbia.
District employees then verify the forms and key the information into the South Carolina Department of Education Web site. The entire process can take more than two weeks.
A year ago, Cotton said, the school districts human resources department asked him for a way to make teacher certification more efficient. Because giving teachers access to the AS/400 would require purchasing hundreds of client licenses, Cotton instead began looking for new and more cost-effective ways to get at the data.
Cotton decided a Web application deployment would be the easiest and most efficient way to serve data to all users. Because all the data resided on an AS/400 and was already in DB2 format, he decided to beta test DB2 8.2.
Cotton writes programs using Microsofts .Net languages, so he also had to take compatibility into consideration—DB2 offers plug-ins to Microsofts Visual Studio and .Net frameworks. The database features SQL enhancements that allow stored procedures to be written using .Net languages such as Visual Basic and C++. Cotton said DB2 allowed him to build the application using Visual Studio.