Next-gen apps for a top school.

UC Davis improves student services with highly responsive web apps developed with Adobe ColdFusion.

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Established

1908

Students: 39,000
Davis, California
www.ucdavis.edu

6X

Accelerated response time sixfold with help of the Performance Monitoring Toolset

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Objectives

Improve student experiences with web and mobile apps

Optimize app performance to support increasing usage

Speed developing new services and functions for students 

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Results

Accelerated peak response time sixfold from one minute to less than 10 seconds

Develop apps twice as fast compared to Java

Gain visibility into real-time app performance

Fast developer onboarding with easy-to-learn platform

Students at the University of California, Davis are proud of their university. The school is known for academic excellence as a top-ranked research institution. Commitments to sustainability, diversity, and social well-being further boost Aggie Pride for the university’s 39,000 students.

 

Brad Harding is equally enthusiastic about his role in helping UC Davis students find success. As manager of enterprise student applications, he and his team create the digital tools found in the MyUCDavis portal that students use daily to communicate with advisors, register for classes, look up their records, and more. For more than 20 years, the enterprise student application team has relied on Adobe ColdFusion as the platform of choice to develop student applications.

 

“Adobe ColdFusion makes application development fast and easy. The solution has served us well for many years,” says Harding. “With ColdFusion, we can support students by quickly developing new services for the MyUCDavis portal so they can focus on their academic careers and prepare for future success.”


“With ColdFusion, we can support students by quickly developing new services for the MyUCDavis portal so they can focus on their academic careers and prepare for future success.”

 
Brad Harding 

Manager of Enterprise Student Applications, University of California, Davis 


Twice the development speed

While the enterprise student application team has considered other development platforms over the years, one of the biggest reasons that it continues to work with Adobe ColdFusion is its ease of use. The platform makes app development as simple as developing for the web. When the team hires new developers, or if developers are reassigned from other teams around UC Davis, Harding can quickly get newcomers up to speed — no matter their background.

 

“Adobe ColdFusion is a leader in enabling rapid development,” says Harding. “We can create new apps twice as fast compared to Java, which means we can get new features and services into the hands of students and faculty faster.”

 

ColdFusion also makes it easy to develop responsive applications that can be displayed on any size screen, from desktop monitors to smartphones. Mobile support is essential for reaching young digital natives; mobile use of the MyUCDavis portal recently eclipsed desktop and laptop usage for the first time. With Adobe ColdFusion, developers can develop mobile and responsive applications as easily as any web page, further streamlining development.

Boosting registration speeds, even during peak load

One of the most important apps on the MyUCDavis portal is Schedule Builder, which students use to register for classes. Schedule Builder borrows from common e-commerce interfaces by allowing student to select multiple classes and put them in a “shopping cart”. Students can even create multiple shopping carts to compare schedules and then register for all classes with the click of a button.

 

Schedule Builder always experiences peak load on the first day of classes, when students begin looking at syllabi, rethinking their schedules, and adding or dropping classes. While Harding was happy to see more students using the tool, the high load resulted in slowdowns during this peak period.

 

“Peak response time was up to one minute — an unacceptable wait for a modern web app,” says Harding. “We were excited when the Performance Monitoring Toolset was introduced with Adobe ColdFusion 2018 as it gave us the visibility that we needed to monitor Schedule Builder in real time and understand how we could optimize experiences for students.”

 

Using the Performance Monitoring Toolset, Harding took a closer look at how the application performed under stress. Analysis indicated that many simultaneous requests to the server were being forced into a queue. Increasing request limits instantly eliminated these queues and reduced slowdowns. Tests also indicated that CPU utilization was reaching 100% for the Schedule Builder servers. With just a few clicks, Harding could increase CPU in the virtual environment, further boosting performance.

 

Harding then used the Performing Monitoring Toolset to take a closer look into the performance of individual URLs and queries. This allowed the application team to focus their energy on optimizing areas with the slowest response times.

 

“Working with the Performance Monitoring Toolset, we reduced peak response time from one minute to less than 10 seconds,” says Harding. “Adobe ColdFusion made it very easy to discover and address problems. We were excited to report the lack of delays to our stakeholders when the latest term started.”


“Adobe ColdFusion made it very easy to discover and address problems. We were excited to report the lack of delays to our stakeholders when the latest term started.”

 
Brad Harding 

Manager of Enterprise Student Applications, University of California, Davis


Optimizing experiences for faculty and students

Harding looks forward to using the Performance Monitoring Toolset to optimize other applications across UC Davis. His next focus will be Photo Rosters, which allow faculty to view photographs of all registered students and better connect names with faces.

 

“We've looked at other platforms, but we've stayed with Adobe ColdFusion because it’s easy to use, and also backed by the support of Adobe,” says Harding. “We can rely on Adobe for support, updates, and improvements that keep development flowing.”

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