UTS streamlines support with Rimini Street to counter IT skills shortage

UTS streamlines support with Rimini Street to counter IT skills shortage

Third-party support and security enable the University of Technology Sydney to slash support wait times and improve service delivery as the tertiary education sector navigates skills shortages and moves to hybrid learning.

Rimini Street, a global provider of enterprise software products and services, a leading third-party support provider for Oracle and SAP software products and a Salesforce partner, has announced that the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has switched maintenance, support and security management of its Oracle database and technology platforms to Rimini Street.

Rimini Street says the university has slashed wait times for support requests and improved service quality on its Oracle system.

Rimini Street is also helping the university manage the on-going IT skills shortage and rapid transition to hybrid learning while providing security for its database and advanced application middleware.

Daniel Benad, Group Vice President and Regional General Manager, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, Rimini Street

“UTS, like all universities in Australia, has had to rapidly transition to an almost exclusive online service delivery. Budgets are tightening across the board but the quality-of-service delivery expectations remain the same or higher,” said Daniel Benad, Group Vice President and Regional General Manager, Australia, New Zealand and Oceania, Rimini Street.

“Students can now log into their online classes from almost anywhere in the world which adds a new layer to what is required from the IT team. Fast, reliable and secure systems are needed to keep up with the changing world.”

Focusing on the big issues with more time and money to spare

UTS is one of Australia’s leading universities, with circa 45,000 students, 3,500 staff and 7,000 researchers (either PhD candidates or post-doctoral researchers). The IT department alone employs around 300 staff and is responsible for the digital experiences supporting the people, processes and culture at the university.

The university faced challenges during the pandemic including a massive shift to online learning and remote work, and a growing IT skills shortage. The large decline in the number of international students enrolling in Australia has also seen IT budgets shrink. Because of these limitations, UTS needed to refocus its strategic resources more efficiently.

In addition, maintaining its Oracle database was leading to the draining of the IT budget and internal resources. Staff were preoccupied with keeping systems afloat in a rapidly scaling-up environment and had little time to focus on growth. 

“Skilled staff are only getting more expensive to hire and retaining these employees just to work on minor projects and simple upgrades is no longer sustainable,” said Brian Kelly, Head of IT Operations, UTS. “We’ve had to really maximize the resources we have to keep our IT services growing and improving.” 

In addition, as UTS increasingly moved towards a more hybrid learning and working environment, cost capability, supportability and flexibility are key to guaranteeing robust and reliable IT services. The rapid move into the hybrid workspace also opened new avenues for cybersecurity attacks or breaches.

As the number and location of users increased, so too did opportunities for access. As such, the university was conscious it needed to increase the security of its Oracle system, particularly as routine patching was a time-consuming endeavour for its IT team. 

“UTS is relatively new to the hybrid working and learning space, and it’s important to be mindful of risks from such a rapid transformation,” added Kelly. “We had to undergo numerous lengthy upgrades to keep our system secure from known flaws.” 

The university began to look at ways to lower the cost and resource drain on its IT team and turned to Rimini Street’s third-party support and maintenance. 

Lowering costs and response times

Each Rimini Street client benefits from the company’s flexible, premium-level enterprise software support model, including its industry-leading service level agreement of 10-minute response times for all critical Priority 1 cases. All clients are also assigned a primary support engineer with an average of 20 years of experience in the client’s enterprise software and backed by a team of functional and technical engineers. 

In addition, Rimini Street’s Database Management Services provide UTS with new expert skills from skilled and responsive engineers. Since partnering with Rimini Street, resolving support tickets is easier and quicker, with expert engineers available to respond to challenges at any time. 

“Being able to shrink how much time is spent on routine work has really allowed us to prioritize the bigger picture, and Rimini Street gives us time back in our day,” said Kelly. “The team is no longer worried about how long a patch or upgrade will take, how long it’ll take to get issues resolved, or how many hours they’ll have to dedicate to something routine. Rimini Street has taken care of that for us and having such a quick turnaround for support has really eased up our workload.” 

“Rimini Street gives us high-quality support for these business-as-usual activities without breaking our budget. Being able to be flexible with what senior ICT staff we hire means we’re putting a microscope on what our team actually needs, rather than allowing necessity to dictate it.”

Hybrid ERP system now proactively secured

Having the time and resource availability enabled UTS to develop its own security upgrades. Further, Rimini Street’s security offering gave UTS peace of mind that it would be supported and remain live while it underwent these upgrades. 

“With time and budget to spare we’re now looking at developing security further with a cloud-first strategy,” added Kelly. “We’ve also completed some other security projects, including secure identity management and access controls. We’re also working on automating service management, migrating to the cloud, anything that improves the quality of user experience.”

“UTS is yet another example of an institution that has benefited from Rimini Street’s comprehensive and effective database support,” said Benad. “As international borders continue to open and students choose Australia as an education destination, this streamlined support and improved service delivery will play a huge part in improving their learning experience.”

Brian Kelly, Head of IT Operations, UTS

We asked Brian Kelly, Head of IT Operations, UTS, further questions to find out more.

What are the benefits to the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) of reducing support wait times and how do your students (indirectly) benefit from this?

Meaningful support wait times are critical to enabling students, not just some metric for KPI setting. If an academic is wanting to start teaching they can’t lose the time for hundreds of students to start learning.

Students similarly cannot wait for accessing teaching materials, getting a course or assignment result. People who support our academics and researchers enable teaching and research. These situations are emotionally charged and highly stressful for the academics and students. Reducing support times (speed to resolve) is one of the key enablers.

How has Rimini Street enhanced the security management of the university’s Oracle database?

Rimini has changed the way we’re doing security of our corporate ERP and student ERP. We have a security motivated partner providing us with rapid security fixes, segregation for our database from danger. As an added bonus they are also helping with our updates and break/fix. This has been as a part of our maturing cyber practice (lead by the CISO).

What challenges did UTS face when it had to rapidly transition to an almost exclusive online service delivery?

UTS went from 100% on campus to 100% remote for 46,000 plus students in a matter of weeks. 10,500 staff, researchers and academics had to be supported through this. UTS had relatively small platforms in this area that met some remote needs. These had to be scaled quickly and securely. Simply put, vendors had to step up, ways of working had to be changed, and everybody had to be more flexible. This was done quickly and safely (by my immediate predecessor). We’re continuing to challenge the campus only teaching experience and are still learning.

Has Rimini Street’s service level agreement of 10-minute response times for all critical Priority 1 cases been achieved?

Technical term here but Rimini have blown the SLA out of the water. They started out by being very quick to not only respond, but also to resolve. My database and applications teams have well placed confidence. From my viewpoint, they are my lowest stress partner in this regard.

What has been the most significant benefit of the support provided by Rimini Street for your large IT team and how has it changed the way it operates?

The benefits to my team aren’t as important as the benefits to the business. By enabling my team to respond quicker, address issues effectively and securely it has enabled them to more effectively support the business that enables teaching and learning. The continuing change being taken by the business hasn’t been impacted, and it has allowed it to think and plan strategically in the ERP space.

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