University of Newcastle has installed a content management system (CMS) to drive inward and externally facing Web content as part of a major $10.4 million IT infrastructure overhaul commenced earlier this year.
The Interwoven-based CMS will gradually replace a collection of disparate, first-generation Web sites, documents and related electronic content that had started to cause headaches and force workarounds, according to university executive director of infrastructure services, Trevor Gerdsen.
“The nature of the way the Web sites were constructed, being a whole lot of sub sites and pages, [meant] navigation, broken links and maintenance was a constant problem. Basically, we had a Web site simply constructed as a series of disparate Web pages in HTML all hung together. There was no underpinning technology, but there was some centralised facility in terms of search,” Gerdsen said.
Broken links caused staff to lose trust in the availability of some content, prompting cut-and-paste fixes that degraded over time as information was updated on the main site.
Gerdsen said the business case for upgrading to a CMS was in part based on the fact that universities now openly competed for students who now shop online for details about university courses and enrolments.
“If you have prospective students from overseas looking into the university Web site trying to find out about accommodation, courses, fees and all the important things, poor metadata makes it hard for a student to find information to make a decision. From a business point of view you may lose that student. It’s critical,” Gerdsen said, adding the CMS had come in at below $1 million.
The remainder of the money will be spent on IT initiatives set out in what Gerdsen called an “IT Management Action Plan”.
The university will stick with its current Sun Solaris based corporate system, which Gerdsen said was starting to yield real benefits and savings in terms of applications integrations.
However, servers and desktops will be replaced along with refreshes or upgrades across corporate, teaching and library systems. The university will also migrate storage from a NAS to a SAN.
“It’s network upgrades, the backbone across the university, servers, storage, application development integration - it’s a whole raft of IT services. What we have done is matched the strategic focus from an IT review with an integrated planning approach to all IT projects across the university.
“It’s so we can do the things we have to do, like maintenance as well as new things that will make a strategic and innovative difference to the university,” Gerdsen said.
Newcastle University at a glance…
Five faculties, 20,000 students, 150 undergraduate courses;
No plans to move off Solaris;
Content management: Interwoven;
Student admin: PeopleSoft ;
Online learning management system;
Storage NAS, moving to SAN
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