UCAS triumphant at first ever UK Cloud Awards

UCAS was a winner at last night’s inaugural UK Cloud Awards, after successfully moving their service for university and college applicants into a resilient and scalable cloud environment.

The admissions service for the UK’s universities and colleges won Best Public Sector Project in recognition of the extensive work to move UCAS systems into the cloud in 2013, ready for students to discover their futures on A level results day.

Although UCAS is active all year managing the application process, the service peaks in mid-August when students’ places are confirmed.

Hundreds of thousands of students log into Track, UCAS’ online application system, within a few hours to find out whether they have been accepted onto their chosen course. With the addition of huge demand from universities and colleges managing their intake; this places much more pressure on UCAS’ IT infrastructure than at any other point of the year.

At its peak on 15 August 2013, the Track system saw more than 180 logins per second; hosted on the Microsoft Azure cloud service.

In addition the infrastructure databases and ‘link systems’ which enable universities and colleges to administer the admissions process were migrated to the Amazon Web Services public cloud. This enabled over 350 higher education providers to access UCAS services in the cloud.

Steve Jeffree, Chief Operating Officer at UCAS 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 new technical infrastructure is now supporting students applying for courses that begin this autumn.