Using Cincom Smalltalk, Penn State Successfully Created Web-Based Access for Students, without Losing Legacy System Investments
Penn State University, with 24 campuses and 80,000 students, wanted to make its huge storehouse of information readily available to students, faculty, and staff. First-generation web applications were mainly designed as stand-alone systems, and simply combining legacy mainframe systems with client-server functions quickly crashed key business applications during heavy usage.
Penn State undertook a massive internet development project designed to give students and staff direct access to its wealth of institutional information. Dubbed eLion, the new system would deliver a custom search engine, a hypertext listing of suggested academic and advising references, open access to student information systems, an artificial intelligence-based advising service, and a variety of support services for faculty, staff and students.
With Cincom Smalltalk, PSU developers rapidly created a three-tiered system that reused components. Functions could be written once and placed on servers accessible by all applications, thus saving labor and equipment costs. It also meant that the system could be readily expanded, legacy mainframes linked to data access, and password-protected and authenticated.
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