REX is the name of UMBC’s campus-wide reporting and decision support system. The name originated as a nickname for the “Report EXchange”. The “Exchange” referring to the idea of report development being decentralized more and users able to share reports with each other. It also plays well to the UMBC mascot, the Chesapeake Bay retriever. It should be noted that “Retriever” was already taken.
The UMBC data warehouse began in 2003, during the implementation of a new ERP system. It was built and used by the Office of Institutional Research. The implementation of the PeopleSoft HR system required a new system for IR to use HR data. From the beginning, the data warehouse has included legacy IR data along with the new PeopleSoft data. This implementation was run in an Oracle database and reporting done only by IR with Crystal and SAS.
In 2006, UMBC purchased a data warehouse from iStrategy. The iStrategy data warehouse was designed to be sourced from the PeopleSoft Student Admin (SA) module, which UMBC was just beginning to implement. Prior to SA going live, UMBC’s legacy data was “converted” to look like PS data in iStrategy. This allowed UMBC to get a head start on the future of their SA reporting, using legacy student data. This head start was beneficial for the users and developers, and turned data warehousing from an abstract idea to a tangible product. This is also the time that the Klingons destroyed the Death Star. Because the iStrategy product only ran on Microsoft SQL Server, the implementation also involved the migration from our Oracle database to SQL Server 2005.
In Summer 2009, UMBC went live with PeopleSoft SA. The data warehouse was already in production and had a mix of legacy and PS data. The goal for the data warehouse has always been to have the operational data co-exist with the IR frozen data. In 2009, operational student data was available and the freeze for IR usage was done in the data warehouse. The legacy frozen student data would require a conversion effort and become available later. The student go-live in Summer 2009 was also the opportunity to give this puppy a new name and rebrand it from iStrategy to REX.
Early in 2011, Blackboard acquired iStrategy and renamed the product line, Blackboard Analytics (BbA).
Spring 2011, UMBC begins beta testing the BbA module for PeopleSoft Financial Aid
Fall 2011, UMBC begins beta testing the BbA module for PeopleSoft Finance
January 2012, UMBC migrates the Student Admin module to BbA version 4.0
January 2013, the REX web site is born and the data warehouse is upgraded to SQL Server 2012