Vancouver, Canada, November 28, 2007 --(PR.com
)-- The University of British Columbia is a huge place, comprising of some 402 hectares. Surrounded by ocean and snow capped mountains, the campus is home to over 43,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Spending a day on campus is like visiting a small city - UBC boasts literally dozens of food and beverage and retail venues. To say that the technological requirements of an institution such as UBC are complex would be an understatement to say the least.
In the past, the technology linking all those venues was a plethora of different technologies and topologies, comprising of a mix of old style cash registers and rudimentary point of sale systems spread throughout the university on multiple subnets. The challenges of such a system are many. From inefficient data reporting, to complicated meal planning, from out of control wastage to long lines and delays in processing payments, UBC was desperate for an efficient and flexible enterprise system.
Sean Lee, IT Manager at UBC, comments on the technological challenges UBC used to face. “The old system used to lump all the data together, and it was difficult getting reporting from all the different systems.” Lee explains. “We couldn’t isolate daily sales if polling wasn’t done regularly. And even then, daily sales were often tabulated manually.”
System reliability was also a great concern. With the old system in place, system failure was common. “Processing 2500 students in an hour and a half used to cause database overload.” Says Lee. “Our old system had lots of hiccups.”
After exploring several possible point of sale systems, UBC decided on Toronto based Volante Systems. “In addition to being able to handle our diverse needs, we were also looking at significant savings on maintenance costs.” Lee adds. However, it was Volante’s flexibility that sealed the deal.
Volante is developed in pure Java. Java is cross platform compatible and operates in multiple environments. Users have the freedom to choose Windows 2000/XP, Linux, or Windows and Linux together as operating systems. The installation at UBC involves a mixed Windows/Linux topology, and includes wireless. “Four or five of our locations are now wireless.” Says Lee. “This has benefited us a lot.”
Volante also addressed all of UBC’s data reporting concerns. In the instance of poor data management, Volante offered clear and concise reporting with Data Synchronization.
Polling data involves selecting proper data then storing it in some sort of format. The data is then transferred using a protocol to a centralized location and stored. A process then retrieves the data on the server, interprets it and extracts it to a database.
Data Synchronization eliminates all the steps of the middle layer by enabling databases to talk directly to each other. A single connection from Database 1 to Database 2 is established and outstanding data is sent asynchronously between them. Establishing a connection is a one step process thus eliminating any problems that can occur in-between. And because Volante is written in pure Java, all the information needed is generated in real time, quickly and easily.
“Volante has helped tremendously – everything is on demand in real time.” Says Lee. “Having data in real time is a big deal to us. Synchronization is done every fifteen minutes. We can order food much more efficiently, and we can easily see what items aren’t selling too.”
Businesses desperately need an enterprise system that won’t crash. Volante solves this problem in an innovative way - by utilizing peer-to-peer technology.
Volante is not based on the traditional Server/Client model. Volante’s peer-to-peer system is designed to allow all terminals to work independently, ensuring continuous operations even in the event of a network or host computer failure. Thus a server is not even required for normal client operations.
“We’ve had Volante in place for three years and no data has ever been lost.” Says Lee. “I can’t say the same thing for the old system.”
UBC also utilizes Volante by monetizing its student ID cards. By monetizing ID cards that are already in place, UBC is able to manage its residence Meal Plan program much more effectively. UBC had faced many challenges in being able to accommodate its different meal plans. Now, students simply have to swipe their ID cards in order to pay for meals in any of UBC’s numerous food and beverage venues. Sean Lee elaborates. “ID cards are dining membership cards, they now have unlimited buying potential. Anyone can add money to his or her ID cards at any POS terminal. This is really efficient.”
From accurate, on demand data reporting, to simplified and efficient networking, from system reliability to revenue generation and cost control, Volante has stepped up to the plate. Now, lunch time is no longer “crunch time” at UBC.