Malaysia’s DPCCE Pioneers Full Cloud-Based Higher Education Delivery on AWS
The Department of Polytechnic and Community College Education (DPCCE)—a department within Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE)—is tasked with developing a world-class polytechnic and community college education system. It currently manages education and training at 36 government polytechnics and 104 community colleges across Malaysia.
Originally created as a supplementary channel to its traditional face-to-face teaching model in 2006, the DPCCE Curriculum Information Document Online System (CIDOS) learning management system (LMS) has seen increased traffic from 116,861 students and 7,396 lecturers across 36 polytechnics over the years.
In April 2019, the DPCCE decided to update the LMS—making it its primary teaching and learning channel—recognizing that it would boost access to its academic curricula. The department is also better able to meet the goals laid out by the federal government, such as the Global Online Learning Shift advised in Malaysia’s Education Blueprint for Higher Education (2015-2025). Since August 2020, the DPCCE has been running its LMS fully on Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Moving the CIDOS LMS to the AWS Cloud is not just about virtualization of system resources for scalability. The key benefit is that you can have a fully managed system that gives you the attendant management and maintenance services to run and scale all of your workloads, services, and applications securely, 24/7.”
Tajul Azhar Mohd Tajul Ariffin
Senior Assistant Director, MOHE
Boosting Scalability and Agility using the AWS Cloud
The DPCCE CIDOS is the largest integrated cloud-based education platform in Malaysia’s public sector, delivering a full-year of academic curriculum online for 116,861 students.
Tajul Azhar Mohd Tajul Ariffin, senior assistant director at MOHE and executive in charge of the DPCCE LMS CIDOS cloud project, said, “Moving the LMS to the AWS Cloud is not just about virtualization of system resources for scalability. The key benefit is that you can have a fully managed system that gives you the attendant management and maintenance services to run and scale all of your workloads, services, and applications securely, 24/7.”
The DPCCE has achieved several important outcomes by working with AWS on a fully managed cloud-based LMS.
According to Tajul, the cloud-based system has reduced downtime using Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) and Amazon Elastic File System (EFS). With these services, the DPCCE can dynamically scale its database compute and storage resources with no downtime. Outages on the LMS site were frequent; it was typical to have a downtime percentage of 3 percent per month with the previous on-premises infrastructure, often due to limited storage.
The department also needed the LMS to be more agile in order to manage varying workloads at different times of the academic year and to accommodate user growth. The combination of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), AWS Auto Scaling, and Amazon CloudWatch provided scalable computing capacity to deploy education services faster and monitor metrics to understand the performance of the LMS. The system is expected to scale to support 200,000 cumulative users, including alumni, in 5 years.
Resource optimization was another critical consideration in moving the entire LMS to AWS. The polytechnic management team can now focus its lean resources on the delivery of quality education, while the AWS Cloud provides the services to support the LMS platform.
Lowering Costs Without Sacrificing Data Security
As with any IT deployment in the public sector, the team is focused on data security, which AWS assures with its industry compliance and standards for privacy and data security.
In migrating to AWS, the team had to obtain the approval of Malaysian Administrative Modernization and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), which oversees the appointments of cloud service providers for government agencies.
Within a year of migrating their LMS fully to the AWS Cloud, the DPCCE saved around 30 percent on costs, as compared to operating with an on-premises setup at a government-run data center.
“Right from the start, the benefits around data security and cost savings were clear. This helped us obtain MAMPU’s approval and meet the aggressive timeline of launching a cloud-based LMS CIDOS in August 2020, or 2 months after starting discussions with MAMPU,” added Tajul.
Tajul also highlighted the positive feedback from teachers and students. The students and teachers experienced the high availability and speed, which allowed for uninterrupted teaching, learning, and information sharing. “We want to achieve the best experience for our polytechnic students and lecturers using this cloud-based LMS”, said Tajul.
The DPCCE is now looking to pilot full online academia delivery, via the cloud, for 5 community colleges as a use case for the potential full rollout across 104 community colleges, covering close to 15,000 users. The current AWS deployment supporting the polytechnics’ cloud-based CIDOS LMS is being considered for this community college pilot.
The DPCCE has also engaged with AWS via AWS Educate on a pilot project in March 2021 named ROBONEO AWS DeepRacer Challenge for its polytechnics and community colleges in Sabah. This project is aimed at cultivating interest in cloud computing, robotics and machine learning, and supported by the MOHE as part of its longstanding objective to deliver the advanced human capital needs of Malaysia. The competition attracted 240 participants, with 196 participants completing the DeepRacer badge on AWS Educate, and 156 of them going further into the contest that tested their creativity and skills in virtual tracks to design machine learning models and deep-diving into cloud and robotics technologies.
“This is advanced reinforcement learning and upskilling on cloud computing, software engineering, machine learning, and robotics in a fun and creative way for our students in the polytechnics and community colleges”, said Tajul, who had initiated bringing the AWS DeepRacer Challenge to Sabah.
To learn more, visit Cloud Computing for Education
About Department of Polytechnic and Community College Education
The Department of Polytechnic and Community College Education (DPCCE) is a department within Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) tasked with developing a world-class polytechnic and community college education system to deliver the human capital needs of Malaysia. It currently manages education and training at 36 government polytechnics and 104 community colleges across the country.
Benefits of AWS
- Eliminating downtime to its CIDOS LMS to deliver education services
- Building agility in its CIDOS LMS to support usage growth
- Resource optimization to focus on delivering quality education
- Achieved 30 percent cost reduction
- Achieved compliance with federal govt data privacy and security regulations
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud.
Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS)
Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.
Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers.
AWS Auto Scaling
AWS Auto Scaling monitors your applications and automatically adjusts capacity to maintain steady, predictable performance at the lowest possible cost.