Banner and TopNet failure causes delays

Michael McKay

The Banner and TopNet programs — which are responsible for accessing data for students, faculty, and staff — were unavailable from Sunday until late Monday.

Bob Owen, vice president for Informational Technology, was at a conference for Banner in Las Vegas when he heard the programs were down.

The IBM V7000 data storage unit, which stores all of the information on Banner and TopNet, failed, Owen said.

The data storage unit has two controllers that information on the unit can be pulled up for use. Owen said the odd of both controllers failing at the same time is .000001 percent.

“I mean, it’s so low to be nonexistent,” Owen said.

Owen said three WKU system administrators and one IBM system administrator worked through the night and into the day repairing the system.

“It was all hands on deck,” he said.

He said he was very proud of how quick administrators responded — within 30 minutes of being alerted of the problem.

Owen said no data was lost during the repair, and the system doesn’t need to be upgraded because the cause of the failure is so rare.

Students and faculty had to deal with limited access while waiting for the system to come back up.

Jo-Anne Ryan, assistant director for the School of Journalism and Broadcasting, said she still advised students for class registration even with limited access to TopNet and Banner.

“We still met, and we did a list of courses tentatively without knowing what times they are going to be at,” Ryan said.

Ryan held up a schedule of a student she advised Monday. The form lists the student’s name and course names only.

“You notice how blank her schedule is because we didn’t have times or CRN numbers,” she said.

The bigger issue was that she wasn’t able to access transcripts, change advisor codes or major codes for students, Ryan said.

She also said hiring for a position in the school was delayed for a day because she couldn’t access the necessary paperwork.

“Banner is the backend of TopNet and a lot the employment process — everything that you need to access is through Banner,” she said.

“Our office coordinator couldn’t do anything. She couldn’t pay bills, invoices couldn’t be processed, purchase orders couldn’t be processed, all kinds of things,” she said.

The front desk of Housing and Residence Life also dealt with limited access to Banner and TopNet.

HRL uses the programs for room assignments, housing deposits, checking room availability and accessing financial data and records.

Jetta Krantz, housing associate for female assignments, said her office told students calling HRL that they couldn’t assist them until the system was back up.

“They called — we couldn’t help them because we couldn’t see,” Krantz said.

Kim Rickman, housing associate for male assignments, said most people understood they couldn’t help because the system was down.

“It would’ve been worse if this was at the beginning of the renewal process,” Rickman said.