Manipal Global Education Services (MaGE) offers a wide range of higher-education services to students in India, corporate training programs in partnership with leading IT and banking enterprises, vocational training across a number of skill sectors, and technology-driven services in areas such as testing and education delivery. It is also the operator of university campuses in Malaysia, Antigua in the Caribbean, Dubai, and Nepal. MaGE currently services and supports more than 400,000 learners, many of them through its award-winning technology platform, EduNxt™.
MaGE offers numerous services including corporate programs, skills training, assessment services, certification programs, student enrollment, and placement services. Most of these are delivered online, and with the number of students growing every year, traffic to MaGE’s web applications has increased by up to 60 percent per year, with demand spiking exponentially during admission, examination, and result-publishing cycles. MaGE currently conducts around five million tests and assessments every year and this number is expected to keep growing.
Until 2013, MaGE hosted its applications in an on-premises data center that could not meet its dynamic business needs. Application performance was a challenge, page-load time was slow, and availability was running at 98.5 to 99 percent with the business experiencing downtime of a few days per year. The company also identified a potential risk with its critical SAP system, which did not adequately provide for disaster recovery. In the event of a disaster, recovering the system would take a few weeks, which could result in a significant business impact.
Further, the on-premises infrastructure was expensive and complex to maintain. Several team members were needed to configure and deploy infrastructure resources for new workloads, and scaling the data center for growth could take several weeks, which restricted MaGE’s ability to respond quickly to changing business needs.
The company knew it could address some of these challenges by investing in new servers and associated IT infrastructure. However, this option would be very expensive and time-consuming, and wouldn’t provide the scalability, performance, and availability that the business demanded.
MaGE was convinced by the agility and elasticity that cloud computing provides and decided to build a robust and “future-ready” technology platform to support business growth. Leadership evaluated multiple cloud service providers before choosing Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We looked at agility, elasticity, performance, and cost effectiveness while evaluating cloud providers and finally chose AWS as our trusted partner. Its pace of innovation, years of experience, track record, and the customer-first approach are unmatched,” says Balakrishna Rao, chief information officer at MaGE.
Based on the success of the initial deployments, MaGE decided that the time was right to move to a “cloud-first” strategy and began a massive shift to the cloud. Manipal has moved nine applications and systems—including campaign management and digital marketing, student management, learning management, assessment, and websites—into AWS. By early 2015, Manipal was running 70 percent of its workloads in AWS and had adopted a policy that any new applications have to be delivered as a service from the cloud. The business is also running a disaster recovery environment for its SAP student management system within AWS. During seasonal peaks, these systems handle 100,000 internal assessment uploads per day on EduNxt, 450,000 result hits per day on the student portal for distance learning programs, and three million hits on their website with around 10TB of data transfered each month.
MaGE uses more than a dozen AWS services, including Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon CloudFront, AWS CloudTrail, Amazon CloudWatch, Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS), Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES), Amazon Route 53, Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon ElastiCache, AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), and AWS Trusted Advisor.
“We have various technology platforms, OS, and development environments currently running as our own virtual private cloud environment using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud. We did not want to compromise on the performance or security of our applications, and the breadth and depth of the AWS platform was crucial to give us the confidence in making the shift to the cloud,” says Rao.
The figure below illustrates MaGE’s environment in AWS:
MaGE is now operating a virtual data center within AWS that can support sustained business growth and expansion, as well as maintain availability and performance when demand peaks occur during admission and exam periods. The business can scale the infrastructure up or down to manage seasonal peaks and only pays for the resources it consumes. With instant provisioning, the compnay is able to support new business demands within hours, compared to four to five weeks previously with the traditional data center approach.
After moving to the AWS cloud, the availability of customer-facing applications and student services has climbed to 99.9 percent, and page-load times have fallen by 30 percent, improving end-user experience. The business now has the ability to recover from any disaster impacting their SAP environment in hours, minimizing disruption to business operations. While realizing all these benefits, MaGE has also seen reductions in operational costs of around 20 to 25 percent.
According to Rao, IT is more agile than ever before and has the ability to match the pace of business. “AWS has boosted the innovation culture within the organization, and teams are now able to conduct experiments and adopt new processes, which was never possible before. With AWS, the challenges that we used to face during peak times are now solved, and operational and security expectations are met,” says Rao.
To learn more about how AWS can help you run your business applications, visit our Business Applications details page.