How Azure helps UCAS and students survive results day

Arguably the biggest moment in the life of any student (up until that that point) is that day in August when they receive their exam results and find out whether their place at the university of their choice has been confirmed. On that day, you can forgive the individual students for only worrying about their own personal results. But what about the people whose job it is to worry about all the students’ results? We are of course talking about UCAS, and the part it plays in bridging the gap between Further Education and Higher Education.

Every year, UCAS processes the applications of over 700,000 students in the UK, who through their system, make over two and a half million choices. On results day, the UCAS system has to deal with over 5 million page views on, and the Track service must be able to adequately support in excess of 1.2 million logins. This is why UCAS looks to the cloud - specifically Microsoft Azure - to provide a robust and resilient system for the students and their information.

There were three main ‘must haves’ for UCAS when they began transitioning their systems to the cloud two years ago: reliability, flexibility and security. However, with a stable stream of traffic all year punctuated by a major spike on results day, UCAS needed a solution that could be relied upon to withstand the one-off phenomenal demand but not be wasteful for the rest of year. The scalability of the Azure platform allows for over 700,000 applicants to login at the same time on results day without the system suffering from abnormally high volumes of traffic and usage.

UCAS is just one example of a successful use of Microsoft Azure in education, but for more information please take a look at the following SlideShare:

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