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Success Story : University


A massive, decentralized university database gets a modern upgrade driven by the power and interoperability of the open source Grails framework.

A system failure in a university's internal database can affect tens of thousands of users and create major chaos, especially during peak-use times, like school admission season.

The Challenge

A U.S.-based public research university’s core technology team struggled to manage the demands of numerous decentralized technology departments, each with its own unique platform, security, and interoperability concerns.

The university’s internal database supported 80,000 daily users, including students, staff, faculty, and contractors. The database was also accessible to 500,000 alumni. Thus, it was critical that the system be highly responsive and consistently performant.

The university recognized that it needed to upgrade the entire system in order to keep up with increasingly complex requirements, and expanding user base, and 21st-century expectations.

Project Goals

The university's leaders identified five critical objectives:

  1. Modernize the university’s database to accommodate future growth
  2. Ensure continuity of existing efforts (e.g., data synchronization) and system security
  3. Develop tools to be used by multiple departments, independent of the platform in use
  4. Reduce the accumulation of technical and process debt
  5. Create a flexible business solution for RESTful interfaces and UI using open source technologies


The university selected the Grails framework to power the upgrade because of Grails' extensive library of plugins and its ability to significantly simplify the process of building web applications and backend systems on the Java platform.

Our Grails team contributed training, support, and development services, including:

  • Delivering an informal training program to help the university's technical staff get up to speed on the framework before launching the project
  • Replacing legacy scripts to synchronize student and faculty data
  • Integrating the university's proprietary databases and applications with open source technology
  • Building microservice-oriented architecture running several interactive Grails applications
  • Integrating multiple data sources with master data (Oracle Databases)
  • Implementing inter-application notifications with ActiveMQ and REST
  • Designing and building front-end Grails applications for administration and user interfaces