Due to the changes brought by the Bologna Process we observe a large demand for new information systems supporting the academic processes of research and teaching. The software demanded is not available on the market. Some systems are large projects of pi- lot-systems in pioneer universities. Because universities have little experience in imple- menting and operating such systems, it seems to be worth while to examine the essentials of organizational information systems. Hence, with this paper, we reflect on essentials of organizational information systems in light of special requirements at higher education in- stitutions, and derive normative advise for colleagues. After Lehman’s definition of em- bedded systems 35 years ago, we look at very complex systems, embedded into large or- ganizations. The complexity of such system’s software stems from its database, created by the the organization’s users. We argue, from our basic view at original data, which func- tions are part of the core of a ‘campus management system’ (CMS) and which are not. E. g. ‘E-learning’ or ‘library’ do not belong to this core, but need secure and efficient inter- faces to it. Because CMS are large and expensive they should be implemented into an or- ganization evolutionary. We show examples of stepwise implementation for two cases and provide an overview of a reference model of the database’s core.