UK Higher-Education Winning with Amazon & Azure

In last week’s inaugural UK Cloud Awards UCAS was awarded the Best Public Sector Project for moving their services to the cloud in 2013.

Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), provides services within UK higher education that aids students and universities in the application and admission process. On the UCAS website students can find out their A-Level results and their subsequent eligibility to the five universities they have applied to. There is also a clearing process whereby students that were not eligible for first tier acceptance can be offered a place that has been rejected by someone else. UCAS processes approximately 2.5 million applications each year, for 340 universities and colleges within the UK from 650,000 students from both the UK and abroad. On the day A-Level results are released there is an overwhelming number of visits to their site, and last year at its peak the site had more than 180 logins per second.

It is one of the most accessed websites in the UK and prior to their migration to the cloud, the traffic overload caused a number of problems. In 2011 this even resulted in a complete crash of their site.

In 2013 they moved to Microsoft Azure cloud service as their host, and the back end of the admissions process was transferred to Amazon Web Services’ public cloud.

Steve Jeffree, UCAS’s COO said: “We are delighted to have won the award which acknowledges the hard work that went into protecting students from a potential storm on results day… The success of the resilient cloud system is a tribute, not only to our IT team but to the universities and colleges who gave us their help and patience while we made vital technical changes ahead of our most important day… I would also like to thank our many technology partners who were instrumental in this success – including Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Attenda, IPL and Cognizant.”

The UK cloud awards were started by Cloud Pro, The Cloud Industry Forum and TechUk, to celebrate innovation and standout achievements within the Cloud industry.