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“This site is very visible to the public, and any downtime generates bad press. With the site running on Windows Azure, we earn the public’s confidence.”
Daniel Petru Funeriu, Minister, Romanian Ministry of Education, Research, Youth, and Sports
The Romanian Ministry of Education wanted an essential website to perform well each July, when high school entrance exam results were posted there. It turned to technology partner SIVECO Romania, which recommended moving the ADLIC web publishing application to Windows Azure during peak periods. The Ministry gained ample processing power, eliminated downtime, and avoided spending US$100,000 for a comparable on-premises infrastructure.
Business NeedsSIVECO Romania is a Bucharest-based software vendor and integrator, active in Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and North Africa. It is a member of the Microsoft Partner Network.
A longtime technology partner to the Romanian Ministry of Education, SIVECO developed a high school admission application, ADLIC, which is used to publish high school entry test scores. Every year, approximately 200,000 Romanian eighth-graders submit their high school choices. Automatic assignments are made based on student preferences and school capacities. The results are posted on the ADLIC website each July.
However, when up to 200,000 students and their parents rushed to the site to check their assignment, the site had difficulty responding. Anxious candidates had to revisit the site repeatedly, sometimes over a period of days, before they could see their results. The ministry did not have sufficient hardware infrastructure to properly support peak traffic loads.
“It is extremely important to the ministry that this site functions properly and stays available during the assignment period; it is the fastest way of transmitting the results to waiting students and is proof of
ministry’s capacity to completely automate the distribution process,” says Florin Anton, Advanced eLearning Department Manager at SIVECO Romania. “Also, the ministry had experienced denial-of-service and other malicious attacks on the site, which meant that our staff had to monitor the servers around the clock to safeguard them.”
Adding to the server workload, the exam results site used static webpages, which required tremendous compute power. SIVECO wanted to convert the ADLIC website to use dynamic webpages—which are generated as needed based on user requests—but a dynamic architecture would require more powerful and expensive servers, for which the ministry had no budget. Even using static pages, the ministry had to pay for powerful servers used just one or two months a year.
SolutionWhen SIVECO learned about Windows Azure in October 2010, it immediately saw it as a way to solve the ADLIC website challenges. Windows Azure provides on-demand compute, storage, networking, and content delivery capabilities through Microsoft data centers.
With the Ministry of Education’s approval, SIVECO moved the ADLIC website to Windows Azure for its cloud compute
Partner: SIVECO RomaniaWebsite: www.siveco.ro Partner Size: 1,000 employeesCountry or Region: RomaniaIndustry: Professional services
Partner ProfileSIVECO Romania is a Romanian software vendor and integrator that develops and sells software products and consulting services throughout Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.
Software and Services Windows Azure− Windows Azure− Microsoft SQL Azure
For more information about other Microsoft customer successes, please visit: www.microsoft.com/casestudies
Windows AzurePartner Solution Case Study
Ministry Creates National Cloud Service to Ensure Top Performance of Exams Website
resources, using Microsoft SQL Azure as the cloud database service. This was scheduled for the busy summer months only, and the website would run in the ministry’s data center the rest of the year.
With the virtually unlimited compute power made available by using Windows Azure, SIVECO was able to upgrade the site from a static to a dynamic architecture. This enabled the ministry to offer new capabilities, such as a better search interface and richer data presentation, leading to a better user experience. Student test scores are still maintained in an on-premises database running Microsoft SQL Server data management software. But the web servers run in Windows Azure, and public data sets for the website are delivered through SQL Azure.
In July 2011, the first year that the ministry delivered the high school distribution results using the Windows Azure cloud services, SIVECO deployed 10 Windows Azure instances, with a total of 80 processor cores, and loaded about 400 megabytes of data into the SQL Azure database. SIVECO adjusts Windows Azure resources as needed, paying only for the resources that it uses.
SIVECO is eager to present the possibilities of Windows Azure to more customers. “By using Windows Azure, we have the ability to create more flexible solutions for our customers,” says Florin Ilia, Vice President of SIVECO Romania. “With it, we can now serve customers that we could not serve before because they could not justify expensive on-premises IT models.”
BenefitsBy moving the ADLIC public website to Windows Azure during peak traffic periods, SIVECO Romania is able to give the Ministry of Education the performance and availability it needs, when needed, at a very attractive cost.
Cost-Effective Performance Scalability By using Windows Azure, SIVECO can quickly scale up the ADLIC web infrastructure when necessary without paying all year for expensive unused infrastructure. “With this critical web application running on Windows Azure, students can get their distribution results
immediately without the anxiety of waiting for hours or days on a slow website,” Anton says. “They also enjoy improved functionality because of the site’s ability to offer dynamic webpages.”
To create a comparable infrastructure on premises, Anton estimates that the ministry would have had to spend US$100,000 on servers, software, and management resources. “Windows Azure costs a fraction of what it would cost to create a comparable infrastructure in-house—it was at least 10 times less expensive,” says Bogdan Popoviciu, IT Director at the Romanian Ministry of Education.
Improved Reliability and AvailabilityDuring the first summer that the ADLIC website was run on Windows Azure, the ministry experienced zero downtime for the first time. “Every year previously, we’ve had downtime to contend with, so this was a huge improvement,” Anton says. “For the first time in years, our staff enjoyed a good night’s sleep every night.” This peace of mind came from not having to watch ADLIC servers around the clock for a month to defend against denial-of-service attacks. “This also reduced our costs by approximately $10,000,” Anton says.
In addition to reduced IT work and costs, high availability for this website is crucial to the ministry’s reputation. “This site is very visible to the public, and any downtime generates bad press,” says Daniel Petru Funeriu, Minister of the Romanian Ministry of Education, Research, Youth, and Sports. “With the site running on Windows Azure, we earn the public’s confidence.”
This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published February 2012