UFE Mongolia Goes Online in 10 Days with AWS
The University had years and years of content. The challenge was how to move it to the new system. Using AWS, it took us only three days.”
Vice President, UFE
Founded in 1924, the University of Finance and Economics (UFE) is one of the oldest educational institutions in Mongolia.It has over 6,000 students and more than 300 employees and has successfully been running some online courses using on-premises technology since 2015. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, UFE used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to move all teaching online in less than two weeks, enabling students to continue their studies remotely.
On-Premises Infrastructure Not Up to the Job
At the beginning of 2020, UFE was using a local data center with two local servers. But when more than 400 students tried to access it at once, the system was overloaded, resulting in the entire learning management system going offline. The local power supply was unreliable and the server would need to be restarted manually after every power outage. Ankhtuya Dorisuren, UFE vice president, explains: “This made it really difficult for students taking courses who lived in the countryside and needed to access resources and teaching remotely.”
In late January, the government of Mongolia announced a nationwide lockdown with strict quarantine measures. All educational institutions closed within the space of a week and overseas students were recalled home. This presented UFE with a problem: how to continue providing all students with top-quality teaching while complying with the lockdown restrictions. The speed of implementation was critical, as was the need for an accessible and reliable system. UFE decided to transfer its entire online learning management system to AWS cloud-based infrastructure—and did so within just 10-days.
Preparation and Teamwork was Key
With its reputation as a leading educational institution at stake, not to mention a large student body that expected to continue with its learning despite the exceptional circumstances, it was imperative that a reliable online educational system could be implemented as quickly as possible. The University already had four years’ experience of running courses online and had been working with AWS Partner FIBO CLOUD to innovate and make changes to its existing infrastructure. “We had already decided to move to another system. Fortunately, it was the winter break so we had a two-week window to move the system from old to new,” says Dorisuren.
Teamwork was essential—UFE IT engineers worked day and night with the FIBO CLOUD team. “We created one big team that included the IT professors teaching other professors and guiding all the students in how to quickly move to the new updated system. The University had years and years of content and the challenge was how to move it to the new system. Using AWS, it took us only three days,” explains Dorisuren. The IT professors prepared videos and guidelines on how to use the system and the whole University pulled together to make it work.
Saving Time with Cloud Technology
UFE had two weeks to set up its new system. By using AWS cloud services, it bypassed the usually lengthy process of searching for and procuring on-premises servers—a process that would typically take up to 48 days. AWS supplied UFE with Proof-of-Concept (POC) credits so it could test which services it would need in advance, helping to speed up the whole process.
By using a combination of Amazon CloudFront for content distribution, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) for static content, Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS), and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) for MySQL—all set up in the 10 days before the start of the new semester, UFE was able to continue offering all its classes and educational services online. After migration, 90 percent of students were using the online services daily.
The move has improved the security of the University’s systems with 80 percent of its workloads hosted on AWS. Amazon Inspector allows UFE to see Amazon EC2 instance vulnerabilities. AWS CloudTrail provides better action logs and enables Multi-Factor Authentication for all accounts. And the database sits in a private subnetwork configured to only grant access from Amazon EC2 Spot Instances.
Using Amazon CloudWatch, departments can access comprehensive data on traffic and use patterns to see when most students are online and examine learning behavior. With Amazon EC2 Auto Scaling at times of additional need, for example during exam time, the system scales itself, eliminating the need for manual intervention. And by using AWS, the UFE has achieved 99.99% service availability. In October 2020 UFE was one of five universities in Mongolia invited by the country’s Ministry for Education to present its successful digital transformation to other universities and the public.
Looking to the Future
The University plans to expand its offerings to be more accessible to students that can’t physically attend, whether because they have disabilities, work during the day, or live in more remote locations.
It is also working on a mobile app for students and businesses that is directly linked to AWS. “We have a big dream. We are ready to engage with businesses and other educational institutions that want to work with us on our platform,” says Dorisuren.
About University of Finance and Economics
The University of Finance and Economics is one of the oldest continuously operating educational institutions in Mongolia. With over 6,000 students and 300 employees it offers degrees in finance, accounting, marketing, and other business studies.
Benefits of AWS
- Agility and performance
- Availability and reliability
- Security and compliance
AWS Services Used
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.
Amazon CloudFront is a fast content delivery network (CDN) service that securely delivers data, videos, applications, and APIs to customers globally with low latency, high transfer speeds, all within a developer-friendly environment.
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.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are transforming their businesses every day using AWS. Learn more about cloud computing for Education and start your own AWS Cloud journey today.