Students encounter technological complications during registration

When students registered for classes on March 30 and Monday April 3, the new update of the Banner software struggled to handle the influx of students registering, and as a result the website froze. Some students were not able to enroll in courses required for their majors. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Students registering on March 30 and Monday April 3 for the fall 2017 semester encountered technological difficulties with the Banner Registration service.

When students with both time tickets—7 and 7:30 a.m.—on both days attempted to register for classes, the website unexpectedly froze and crashed, rendering them unable to sign up for classes on time. 

Computing and Information Technology believes that the issue arose due to the volume of students registering on those two days, coupled with the fact that this was the first time the new version of the Banner software was used, according to a phone interview with Assistant Director & Manager for Information Systems Paul Jackson. The last time there was a major crash was November 2014, a year before the Banner system was implemented.

There were 700 students scheduled to register at each time on March 30, while on Monday April 3, there were 650 with each registration time.

Previous versions of the Banner system have handled higher volumes of registration without any problems, according to Jackson.

“The numbers are always about the same; we always have a group of about 700 and they’ve run very successfully with no issues, so the only thing I can think is something about the way they programmed the new version,” Jackson said.

By Jackson’s calculations, with 700 students each taking five classes, the system needs to process the registration ofapproximately 3,500 classes in one to three minutes.

“We start checking the system at four or five in the morning and we have people on site by six and the problem with registration is, normally within a minute to three minutes, everybody’s registering, so the ability to react is a very short window,” Jackson said.

Jackson and his team were able to get the servers running again before the 7:30 a.m. time ticket, but as a result of the high volume brought on during this time period, the servers crashed again due to a failure in the login component, according to Jackson.

CIT added more instrumentation and monitoring for the session on Monday in an attempt to figure out how to fix the problems with the server and to help get the servers up and running again in the event of another crash, Jackson said.

The servers did crash again on Monday April 3, but Jackson and his team were able to intervene more quickly.

“The first day we were a little slow because we were trying to figure out what was happening, but on the second day, within 15 minutes … roughly 80 percent had gotten registration for both 7:30 and at 7:00 a.m. so everything was restarted within a minute,” Jackson said.

While Jackson and the rest of CIT were doing their best to attempt to minimize the problems caused by the registration crash, students explained that many individuals were impacted significantly.

International relations major sophomore Lya Rothmann thought her computer was loading slowly and that it was a personal problem until her roommate said she had sorority sisters encountering a similar issue.

“I checked the CIT website and it said KnightWeb failed and then I somehow got onto the website around 7:20 so I guess I was one of the lucky ones,” Rothmann said.

When Rothmann was eventually able to access the site, she experienced no further problems. 

History major junior Jeanmarie Ryan thought her own computer was experiencing problems and had to use the desktop in her residence hall to complete her registration. Ryan said that although she did not personally experience problems in enrolling in her required courses for the fall semester, she knows many fellow students who were unable to do so. 

“There were people who missed a whole bunch of required classes,” Ryan said. 

“There’s this one friend of a friend who’s thinking of adding a second major because she’s in so many classes that don’t help her at all.”

There should be no issues with Thursday April 6th’s registration, as the number of students registering is significantly smaller, according to Jackson.

“We’re going to try to figure out what can we do and see how we can prevent it in the future since registration is such a huge event,” Jackson said. “We need to figure out how to run a load test before a new version ever gets put in place.”