Clearing house UCAS has revealed its systems running off Microsoft’s Azure cloud computing platform were able to handle queries from 380,000 students after A-level results were handed out on Thursday.
The organisation said that at its peak, the system was handling 180 logins per second as students rushed to discover if they had been accepted by their universities, or if they faced an anxious wait to go through clearing.
UCAS, which works with an IT consultancy called IPL, moved to the cloud after a fiasco in 2011 saw the site crash under huge demand, as it was not able to expand its requirements as and when required.
The chief executive of IPL, Paul Jobbins, said that given the unique requirements of UCAS, which sees peak demand on just one day a year, the cloud is ideally suited for the job, especially with growing mobile access to the site.
“We had to provide a robust IT platform that could withstand a torrent of online access in one 24-hour period – and potentially within as little as one or two hours of that 24-hour period,” he said.
“Practically speaking, this was likely to be over half a million applicants wanting online access through browsers and mobile devices.”
The organisation also uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the processing of applications, with the firm revealing that its system was used by 385,910 students to find places at higher education institutions.
Meanwhile, A-level results for the year underlined some worrying trends among the UK, with just 229 students achieving the A* top grade in ICT A-level qualifications, as the popularity of computer-based courses continue on a steady decline.
In total 10,419 students sat A-level ICT exams this summer, down 669 on 2012. Overall, fewer students failed their courses, with 97.5 percent of students achieving an E grade or above and 65 percent managing to obtain a C or above.
The falling numbers of students sitting ICT exams comes amid ongoing efforts by the government to overhaul the teaching of technology in order to ensure a skills gap does not emerge in the nation at the same time as digital skills become ever more important to business needs.
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