A-level results day: UCAS calls on HP to help meet student demand

UCAS, the university admissions service, has taken steps to protecting its website from crashes by calling for the aid of tech giant HP.

Once a year, the UCAS website experiences incredible amounts of traffic as students look to check their university applications, and the organisation has signed a deal with HP to stress test its cloud services.

The cloud has long been supported at UCAS, which won an award for best public sector cloud project at the UK Cloud Awards. It already uses Amazon Web Services, Microsoft and Rackspace.

"We have extreme scalability requirements," said James Munson, director of IT for UCAS, according to Cloud Pro. "On A-level results day, we handle 400,000 acceptances on our site at a peak load of 200 logins per second"

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If that wasn't enough, another peak load occurs when the organisations opens clearing. Last year alone, says Munson, the website had one million course searches in one day.

In order to stress test the system, UCAS used HP's Perfomance Center on SaaS for a three-month period. During this time the system handled 16,000 virtual users.

The trials were more extensive that the system would be expected to handle, said Munson: "We actually tested to up to four times the amount of traffic that we experienced. We also replicated real-life situations by using the product to simulate traffic from different places."