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Campus Computing News

EIS Status Report

By Cathy Gonzalez, EIS Training, Communication, and Administration Manager, CITC

Improved Queries for EIS Functional Users

Walter Bowen, UNT Associate Director of Admissions, reports that in recent weeks, the CITC Administrative Computing Team Manager for Student/Contributor Services, Don Butler, and his team have been working to optimize UNT and HSC Admissions offices’ queries, SQR Reports and Crystal Reports projects. "We had several on the admission’s side that were developed early in the EIS implementation that were taking an extraordinary amount of time to run, sometimes timing out and occasionally abending because they extended into an EIS maintenance window," said Walter. Query and reporting projects that used to take up to six hours or longer to complete now run in under one minute. The benefits to both the end users and functionality of EIS are vastly improved turn around time to obtain critical reports and a reduction in resource processing time for the EIS production environment.

Queries have historically been a major contributing factor to slowness in production processing time for EIS. If queries are not carefully planned, they become very intensive "resource hogs" on the database. EIS functional users in administrative offices are working with Administrative Computing Services development teams to understand reporting requirements and how to extract data by searching as few database tables as possible.

One common problem area in developing queries is the need to query numerous EIS tables in one query process. Pairing different tables that contain data is known as a "Cartesian Join." The Cartesian product is used in JOIN operations to describe all possible combinations of rows and columns from each table in a database. It was named for René Descartes, a French mathematician. The number of rows in a Cartesian product is equal to the number of rows in the first table times the number of rows in any table joined to the first table. A Cartesian Join that is poorly designed has the ability to produce a runaway query that severely impacts response time in EIS.

The PeopleSoft application places query functionality into the hands of non-technical functional users. In the legacy mainframe world, only the technical teams had this functionality. The dilemma faced by the EIS implementation group was how to assist functional users in making good choices with this new functionality at their fingertips. Being able to use the PeopleSoft query tool was beneficial for end users. They did not have to wait for the technical teams to have time to create the query; on the other hand, it has required a learning curve about the convoluted world of database queries. A win-win situation has been for end users to attempt to develop queries in a non-production environment, then have the development teams test and streamline the queries. Based on the experience of the Admissions offices both at UNT and HSC, this collaborative solution is working.

EIS Training Resources

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