Case Study: GVSU

Case Study: GVSU


Grand Valley State University educates students to shape their lives, their professions, and their societies. The university contributes to the enrichment of society through excellent teaching, active scholarship, and public service.

  • 23,295 students
  • More than 1,700 faculty and staff
  • $206 million annual budget


Move GVSU from a mainframe system to a new open system


Greatly enhanced productivity, self-service function for student, staff and faculty, improved online access to records


GVSU Keeps Growing, i3 Makes Sure System Keeps Up

With more than 23,000 students and two major campuses, Grand Valley State University has come long ways in only a generation. Keeping up with rapid growth challenges an organization’s IT system, and GVSU is constantly seeking the IT partner who can keep the system optimal for the needs of the university’s students and 1,700-plus faculty and staff. i3 Business Solutions consistently proves itself to be the right partner.

“They’ve been very responsive and very helpful,” said Bill Fisher of the University’s technology support staff. “They give us quick turn around on quotes and competitive pricing, and they definitely follow through on issues. They have a very knowledgeable staff.”


The team at i3 guided GVSU through two major upgrades of its mainframe hardware system – and then managed the challenging task of moving the university from the old mainframe system to a new open system in 2004.

“It’s given us a 24/7 system that has greatly enhanced productivity,” Fisher said. “It has self-service aspects for all the students, staff and faculty. And now we’re giving it lots of functionality. We’re implementing a portal that will give students improved online access to their records.”

Every time GVSU undertakes a major IT project like this, it goes out for competitive bids. And much to Fisher’s delight, i3 keeps winning. A major factor is i3′s status as an IBM partner. “We went through an extensive hardware analysis,” Fisher said. “IBM had the best performance per cost in an Oracle environment. It’s very expensive to add processors from a license standpoint, so we wanted the best. The p-series was rated much higher than other platforms.”

Mike Ritsema, President of i3 Business Solutions, said the success of the engagement has arisen from i3′s ability to understand organizational objectives. “Grand Valley is a good example of where i3′s enterprise technology experience, working with high availability, demanding customers and environments for mainframe, allows us to transfer those skills over to UNIX or Intel environments. Our ability to understand Grand Valley’s demanding infrastructure, where students are accessing the system at 2 or 3 in the morning, makes the demands on the system 24/7 in nature. We transfer that from the UNIX to the Intel environment.”

A key player in the success of the effort is i3′s Paul Lastas, who worked on site at GVSU two days a week during the transition.

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