UCAS Computers Crash

Yesterday saw the release of students A level results in the UK. Many students will have failed to obtain the grades required for their University place of choice and so are left looking for an alternative via a process known as ‘clearing’. This is hosted by UCAS and enables applicants to apply online to Universities who have places left.

This year the demand for University places in the UK is higher than ever because of the significant rise in tuition fees that will be introduced next year. Unfortunately yesterday, the UCAS Web site crashed under the demand as the A level results were produced and students rushed to apply for available places. With the availability of compute power these days this is unacceptable and must have been incredibly frustrating for those students searching for a University place. The high load on the Web site was very predictable, not the kind of spurious spike generated by a sudden, unexpected news event. This could have been easily avoided if the application was hosted on Cloud Computing. The application could have scaled to meet the demand, the costs would have been proportional to usage and then as demand reduced so would the allocated resources and associated costs.

What the UCAS problem has highlighted is that there has been a lack of planning for the anticipated demand by those responsible for the systems. Cloud Computing offers a clean, cost effective solution for many organisations, but especially for systems like UCAS and their non-linear demands in load. When I wrote the Learning Tree Cloud Computing course, I used a number of case studies that highlighted computer failures that Cloud Computing can readily solve in a safe secure cost effective manner. Yesterday’s events have provided another example. If you would like to know more bout Cloud Computing and how it can be effectively applied why not consider attending. Hopefully I will see you at an event in the near future.

Chris Czarnecki

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