U of M starting massive systems upgrade

Something’s changing. (Alex Friedrich / MPR)

Starting today, the University of Minnesota is upgrading the software that all of its campuses use for business and academic operations.

The 10-day, $85 million switchover will affect almost 100,000 faculty, staff and students. It should improve how the U manages areas such as payroll, financial aid and grading.

CIO Scott Studham says people outside the university shouldn’t notice much of a difference, and that most of the information systems will operate as usual.

“So email will continue to work just as usual,” he said. “The network and wireless will continue to work just as usual.”

It’s not just about improving operations, Studham said; the vendor for the current system doesn’t support it anymore.

“This is an absolute necessity,” he said. “So while it may cause some change, this is something that we just have to do.”

Testing suggests the changeover should run smoothly, Studham said.

But he said it’s always possible the new system will suffer some glitches. He says the U has beefed up staffing at its help line for those who encounter problems and it will have personnel to help people on campus.

Studham says during the last major upgrade in 1996, a squirrel made its way into a power panel outside the data center and electrocuted itself. The resulting power outtage caused computers to go down for about an hour.