UCAS made use of Amazon Web Service's (AWS) infrastructure-as-a-service offering and Microsoft's Azure platform this year to deliver the university admissions process, after it struggled to cope with the rush on previous A-level results days.
In 2011 UCAS' website went down for almost two hours as an influx of students used its services to check whether or not they had secured their desired university placement, which pushed UCAS to submit a £20 million tender last year to replace its core systems by 2016.
However, this year it opted to use AWS for the back-end infrastructure and worked with IPL to deliver a new front-end on Microsoft Azure platform to support the admissions process over the 10 days previous to results day.
UCAS used Amazon EC2, Amazon S3, Amazon EBS, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Virtual Private Cloud, AWS CloudFormation, Amazon CloutWatch, Auto Scaling and Amazon ElastiCache in AWS' European Region in Dublin.
The cloud services were used by UCAS to place 385,910 students into higher education as of A Level results day.
Steve Jeffree, Chief Operating Officer at UCAS said: “We know the admissions process can be extremely stressful for students. Their futures depend on this move into higher education so we take our responsibility as the facilitator of this process very seriously.
“It is for this reason that in 2013 we chose to move the core of the UCAS Confirmation and Clearing process to the Amazon Web Services cloud. The flexibility and almost unlimited capacity of AWS means we are able to scale to meet the extreme demands of the admissions cycle.”
He added: “Both students and universities expect a high level of service with their admissions process. By investing in cloud technologies we were able to give every student and university in the UK the fastest response times and top level of service they expect.”
UCAS also invested in a team of technology experts including cloud engineers, solutions architects and technical account managers as part of AWS' Enterprise Support package.
“With the number of university entrants in the UK steadily growing we wanted to invest for the future to ensure UCAS has 21st century technology to deliver 21st century service to the students and universities of the UK,” said Jeffree.
“Cloud computing is clearly the future and we wanted to partner with an organization that understood the importance of high quality customer service. This made AWS the natural choice for us. Through rebuilding the UCAS admissions system on AWS we are not only ensuring a great service for this year’s university entrants but also for the academics of the future.”