Maximize the campus experience with next generation observability

October 04 2023

See how higher education institutions can leverage full-stack observability to provide the best possible application experiences for students, staff and faculty.

Now more than ever, delivering a superior user experience is fundamental to digital transformation — and not just in the corporate world. Higher education has discovered the value of digital experiences for engaging and supporting students, keeping faculty productive and satisfied and creating efficiencies that save money. 

Applications are the engines that power these experiences — and like enterprise counterparts, colleges and universities rely on them for everything from instruction to student services, administration, ERP, facilities support and much more. If an application issue arises, these critical operations can grind to a halt, resulting in frustrated users, reduced employee productivity and increased expenses.  

That’s why complete observability is essential to keeping applications — and experiences — at their best. Institutions such as the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), have adopted enhanced visibility to ensure more dependable, frictionless experiences for its 34,000 students, along with administrators, researchers and facilities teams. 

Building insights into core campus apps 

Like most universities, UTSA depends on its student information system (SIS) to support the most critical student-related data and services. Its Ellucian Banner SIS is closely tied to key processes like recruiting, student onboarding, financial aid, registration and security and compliance. To gain the insights needed to keep these systems running smoothly, UTSA turned to Cisco AppDynamics. 

With AppDynamics, the university gained end-to-end visibility across its entire complex application landscape. This lets the IT teams deliver optimized digital experiences confidently and securely for users while taking advantage of improved productivity and operational efficiency.  Application performance monitoring (APM) lies at the heart of the solution. With it, technologists can visualize the entire UTSA application infrastructure, see bottlenecks and accelerate performance to deliver high-performing digital experiences for students, faculty and other users. 

“It was a challenge to pinpoint performance issues in this enormous haystack, but with AppDynamics we have visibility into every process in our SIS and how well it’s executing in real-time,” said Nassos Galiopoulos, CTO and Deputy CIO at UTSA. 

Using advanced machine learning, AppDynamics establishes a dynamic baseline of the UTSA Banner SIS application performance and alerts IT teams to deviations. This helps them quickly identify and resolve potential issues before student and faculty experiences are impacted. 

Streamlining registration 

UTSA’s first challenge after deployment was the busy student registration period. In the runup to registration, Galiopoulos and his team reduced application error rates to just .01%. The university SIS application then went live with zero latency and no outages, ensuring a smooth registration process for every student. 

Faster issue resolution 

With AppDynamics, the university can ensure its critical applications run nonstop, and tackle issues before they impact users. The holistic view of Banner application performance and code-level diagnostics quickly identify the root cause of issues, based on how its Banner SIS is related to its surrounding infrastructure. Whether a service is in development, testing or production, IT can move fast and stay ahead of potential problems. Now, troubleshooting times for SIS have dropped from three weeks to just one day. 

Taking observability to the next level 

Institutions like UTSA have unlocked impressive benefits with Cisco AppDynamics solutions. And that’s just the beginning. Solutions like application performance monitoring (APM) are part of the Cisco Full-Stack Observability Platform. Together with AppDynamics, Cisco is constantly enhancing this open, extensible platform to make the entire application ecosystem visible and manageable from one place.​ 

Whether applications are hybrid or cloud native, APM is a game changer that many public sector organizations are seeking. For example, Customer Digital Experience Monitoring (CDEM) combines world-class application, infrastructure, network monitoring and user experience tools. This bi-directional integration of Cisco AppDynamics and Cisco ThousandEyes enables organizations to quickly identify gaps in monitoring, so they can understand when issues lie in the network, which allows them to be more proactive in delivering the best possible digital experiences.  

CDEM also brings the network and application worlds closer together in cloud environments by offering real-time network and cloud infrastructure metrics correlated with application data — all visible within the Cisco AppDynamics dashboards. This bi-directional information sharing between application performance monitoring and network performance monitoring helps organizations eliminate silos and deliver end-to-end visibility to every team. 

With complete, shared visibility in one tool for application performance, higher education institutions can unlock better insights into how students and other users are interacting with applications. This improved understanding of user journeys lets them plan more proactively, anticipate new demands and move from reactive to a forward-looking, more strategic approach to applications and services. 

To learn more about how Cisco AppDynamics helps UTSA transform student, faculty and administrative services — and how we can help your institution do the same — read the UTSA case study or request a full-stack observability demo with a higher education expert today.

Jamie Fancher is an accomplished regional sales leader at Cisco AppDynamics where he heads a team of sales professionals and engineers focused on sustainable and scalable technology initiatives for public sector IT organizations. As a strategist, innovator and tactical leader, Jamie’s expertise enables state and local government and higher education entities to build, protect, monitor and observe complex application environments. Prior to joining Cisco AppDynamics, Jamie served as a decorated sales leader for IBM, ScienceLogic, Tata Consultancy Services, Infosys and CA Technologies.

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