Skip to main content

UCAS - The Cloud Journey

The first session this morning was from James Munson and Andy Gillett from UCAS. James described UCAS’s migration from a locally-hosted service in 2012 to a cloud-based service in 2014.  On results day, UCAS gets 235 logins/second.  They had unhappy experiences in 2011 & 2012 and so needed to change.  UCAS needed scalability, security and control of costs, so they chose a public cloud supplier rather than a private cloud.  Their "Track" application was written in .Net so was a natural fit for Microsoft Azure.  Amazon provided the best service for databases.  UCAS already used Rackspace for their web presence, so they went with a mixed set of suppliers.  If they had had more time, they might have preferred a single supplier.

Their architecture handles DDOS suppression, load balancing, monitoring et al. It is built for horizontal scalability with stateless applications etc.  They use Puppet for automatically managing environments.  The UCAS technology team now has sub-teams for customer engagement, IT strategy and architecture, solution delivery, and service assurance.


Andy Gillett described the UCAS's IT engagement strategy.  He outlined the need to apply ITIL service management to UCAS services.  They have established a technical forum, 1:1 meetings, use of social media, user groups, relationships with student system vendors, and relationships with UCISA, HESA and ITSMF.

James noted that putting software into the cloud isn’t a panacea.  You may still have old wine in new bottles – code that needs to be refactored or replaced.  But the gains in flexibility and cost control is worthwhile.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A new EA Repository

One of my goals since starting this job two years ago has always been to create a repository for architecture documents.  The idea is to have a central store where people can find information about the University's applications, data sources, business processes, and other architectural information.  This store will make it easier for us to explain our plans, to show the current state of the University's information systems, and to explain what Enterprise Architecture is all about.

It's taken a long time to reach this goal, mainly because we're often had more pressing and immediate work to be done.  The creation of a repository is one of those tasks that is very important but never quite urgent.  So I'm now very happy to say that we are in the process of deploying a repository and modelling tool.


This is the culmination of a careful process to select the most appropriate tool for our needs.  We began by organising several workshops to gather requirements from a rang…

A brief summary of our major initiatives

I notice that in 2016 I wrote 34 posts on this blog.  This is only my fifth post in 2017 and we're already three-quarters of the way through the year.  Either I've suddenly got lazier, or else I've had less time to spend writing here.  As I'm not inclined to think of myself as especially lazy, I'm plumping for the latter explanation.

There really is a lot going on.  The University has several major initiatives under way, many of which need input from the Enterprise Architecture section.

The Service Excellence programme is overhauling (the buzzword is "transforming") our administrative processes for HR, Finance, and Student Administration.  Linked to this is a programme to procure an integrated ERP system to replace the adminstrative IT systems. 

Enabling Digital Transformation is a programme to put the middleware and architecture in place so that we can make our processes "digital first".  We're implementing an API framework, a notification…

Business Model Canvas

A Business Model Canvas is a tool for mapping the core functions and capabilities of an organisation.  Compared to the Core Diagrams that I described in an earlier post, the business model canvas attempts to present more aspects of the business, starting with the value proposition – a statement of what the organisation offers to its users (in the business world, to its customers).  It shows the activities and resources, as Core Diagrams do, but also shows user relationships & channels, and also benefits and costs.  I’m not aware of any universities that have used this tool but you can find examples from elsewhere on the web.

We are considering business model canvases as a tool for mapping the strategic capabilities of units at the University of Edinburgh.  Phil Taylor, our EA contractor, sketched an outline of what a business model canvas might begin to look like for HR:
This is only intended to be suggestive: the real canvas would need to result from in-depth discussions about th…