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Oklahoma chooses Bull

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Pierre Picard

The OESC modernizes its IT infrastructure on time and on budget

The mission of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) is to provide employment security and promote economic well‑being. It governs the operation of local offices throughout the state.

To do so, OESC’s legacy programs are critical to maintaining a functional, statewide labor exchange to meet the needs of Oklahoma employers and residents. OESC needed to replace its hierarchical database with a relational database to allow more open access and flexibility. Bull introduced OESC to the PostgreSQL RDBMS, the world’s most advanced Open Source database, which has no recurring licensing fees.

Project requirements

  • Convert OESC batch and TP programs from IDS-II databases to PostgreSQL databases that include 2165 source programs, 3 schemas and 433 record types
  • Test and validate all 2165 programs with the new database (because of OESC’s full development workload).
  • Keep the business logic of all programs exactly the same.
  • Maintain consistent OESC personnel productivity during and after migration.
  • Complete the project in 18 months or less because of State budget constraints.
  • No increase in yearly licensing fees.

The project, a true team working

Bull defined a new relational database based on the old hierarchical database. Then OESC and Bull reviewed 2165 programs for direct data usage. Each old style database statement was replaced by a call to a “wrapper” subroutine, which emulated the old database statement with a new SQL statement to the PostgreSQL database. Program analysis and modification were done with an automated tool, which enabled Bull to allow OESC to update their source every 45 days. This allowed new and updated features to be included during the migration, instead of being held until the end of migration. This key feature allowed dynamically changing programs to be modified during the migration.

A key functional requirement of the PostgreSQL migration was the ability to recover individual database schemas to a predetermined time. Bull used a PostgreSQL extension (called E-Maj) to provide this “rollback” functionality and customized/simplified the user interface to perform additional functionality before calling the standard E-Maj routines.

The 2165 modified programs were then tested to make sure they acted the same as before, with the same results and same performance. Teamwork between OESC and Bull really paid off. Weekly meetings measured progress and addressed problems early. OESC trained the Bull validation team on the features of the interactive user screens and how they worked. Bull ran and tested all OESC batch jobs –- without interrupting/impacting the OESC team’s productivity or resources – by setting up 3 test environments at its Phoenix facility for both testing and making performance enhancements. This strategy helped OESC to protect the integrity of its production environment and data, and continue to run without interruption or interference. As necessary, wrappers were modified or pl/pgSQL Stored Procedures were used to improve performance. Programs were validated to perform as good as (or better) with the new PostgreSQL database.


  • Clean cut-over in one weekend.
  • No disruption to the customer base.
  • No problems that couldn’t be recovered using the standard documented procedures.
  • OESC confirmation that everything runs just like before.
  • Project completion on schedule and budget – no overages!
  • OESC can develop access to relational databases from their legacy programs and reduce their recurring fees, including maintenance.
  • OESC cutover to production: January 2013.

According to Margaret Arney, OESC Database Manager/Information Technology: “The turnover completed with no major problems. Thanks to everyone at OESC for validation efforts, and thanks to the Bull team for triage. All of you helped us accomplish this goal, and we really appreciate your smarts and your support! We are thrilled with the performance of TP8.” 

Cloyd Averill, Bull Project Manager, adds: “Bull’s engineering-based team included individuals who were very creative, knowledgeable, and talented – with skills ranging from software tools to product testing. Plus the team had an excellent working relationship with the customer. The project was done on time, on budget, professionally, and with very high quality. It was a fun, educational, team-building effort. I was privileged to be a part of it.”

Michael Evans – OESC Chief Information Officer concludes “With our new PostgreSQL database, OESC is well positioned to meet labor and workforce management needs. Thanks to the OESC/Bull team for all of your hard work in getting us to this point.”

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