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University of Auckland Improves Agility, Innovation, and Resilience on AWS

2021

The University of Auckland (UoA) in New Zealand has more than 40,000 students and 13,000 university staff across seven campuses in Auckland and one campus in Whangārei in the Northland region. To maintain its ranking as the top university in New Zealand, UoA embraced digital transformation across its operations to effectively meet the current and future needs of its students and staff.

“Our IT infrastructure is the cornerstone for delivering the best learning, teaching, and research experiences across our campuses. To ensure the university delivers the best experiences to students, staff, and other stakeholders, we selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help us implement the digital technologies and tools necessary to meet our university’s goals,” says Bharat Kochar, cloud transformation program manager, UoA.

“Some of the improvements we were eyeing were in the areas of machine learning, image recognition and artificial intelligence. AWS easily enabled the consumption of these services, and strengthened the university’s culture of innovation. Equally important was the competitive advantage our services provided our stakeholders. This was made possible by AWS” says Sanit Kumar, cloud services manager, UoA.

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We wanted to reinforce the confidence of our stakeholders and end-users in our cloud strategy, and showcase that with the cloud, we could do more for students and faculty. We were able to migrate 30 applications used by staff and students for a variety of purposes onto the cloud within 3 months. This helped in supporting our efforts to further use cloud services to meet our customers’ demands.”

Bharat Kochar
Cloud Transformation Program Manager, University of Auckland

Encouraging an Innovation Mindset

Kochar and his team developed the Cloud Uplift Standards and Practices (CUSP) framework—which builds on the AWS Cloud Adoption Framework—as a guide for staff, teachers, and researchers on how to use the cloud to meet evolving scholastic and teaching requirements.

“To guarantee our continued success, we must ensure that knowledge and proficiency in the cloud is consistent across departments and individuals. Many organizations face challenges with knowledge being limited to a department or few individuals, which can often lead to business continuity issues,” says Kochar.

Under the cloudability program within CUSP, 225 staff from various departments have been trained on a variety of cloud courses by UoA’s training partners. The university now aims to get these staff members cloud certified, so they can build and deliver greater value through the cloud. The CUSP framework will enhance UoA’s agility in delivering innovative solutions and service excellence. UoA’s eventual goal is to empower its teams with cloud skills to continuously meet and exceed expectations from its students and stakeholders. To this end, UoA is investing significantly in training staff and encouraging them to build and deliver in the cloud by using CUSP.

As one of the next steps in its cloud journey, UoA is exploring an on-demand TV platform to students and the general public. The platform will host educational content that the university has accumulated over the years. Moving forward, UoA will continue to explore how cloud can be used to provide better learning experiences to its community, upskill its staff, and rework its internal processes to meet, and exceed global education standards.

Diverse Migration

The cloud services team at UoA wanted to demonstrate to its stakeholders that the university could achieve even more with the AWS Cloud for its students and staff.

“We wanted to reinforce the confidence of our stakeholders and end-users in our cloud strategy, and showcase that with the cloud, we could do more for students and faculty,” says Kochar. “We were able to migrate 30 applications used by staff and students for a variety of purposes onto the cloud within 3 months. This helped in supporting our efforts to further use cloud services to meet our customers’ demands.”

Migrating an application used by students to author their own programming exercises and practice answering exercises to the AWS Cloud, helped UoA improve its learning offerings. As this application is used by students from other universities for collaborative purposes, it required greater reliability and resilience, which Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) and AWS Fargate provided. The migration also helped UoA to build a strong foundation for business continuity.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, UoA was able to migrate a critical teaching and learning application, that holds 29 terabytes of learning content, to the cloud in 6 weeks. Using Amazon CloudFront, the application caches content in various edge locations around the world enabling students to have access to content without latency. This also allowed the university to continue delivering learning content to over 2,000 overseas students who were unable to travel due to lockdowns. In total, approximately 18,000 students use this application.

Scaleable Cloud-Based Contact Center

During peak periods, such as enrollment or results days, the university’s contact centers would see up to a 100 percent increase in calls received, often resulting in delayed responses to students and potential applicants.

The university sought a solution that would allow it to scale to meet peak demand and improve the caller experience, with reduced wait times and improved call agent access to caller information. Using Amazon Connect, an omnichannel cloud contact center, UoA consolidated many of its contact center interactions into a single cloud-based interface. Amazon Connect was critical in facilitating business continuity for the university in 2020.

With Amazon Connect, call agents can access real-time data from interactions, improving their ability to serve callers. Additionally, students now have the option to connect directly to the last agent they interacted with, creating a more personalized experience.

UoA is the first organization in New Zealand to use Amazon Connect for its internal and external call centre services, demonstrating its spirit of pioneership.


About University of Auckland

The University of Auckland (UoA) is New Zealand’s largest university. Founded in 1883, UoA has over 40,000 students enrolled on seven campuses in Auckland, with nearly 10,000 students graduating annually. It is recognized as New Zealand’s top-ranked university and is ranked 81 in the QS World University 2021 rankings.

Benefits of AWS

  • Improved business continuity and speed to market
  • On-demand scaling for call centre to meet peaks in call volume per day during exam results or enrollment periods
  • Agility to move 29 terabytes of learning content to the cloud, enabling delivery of learning content to over 2,000 overseas students
  • Migrated 30 key university applications to the cloud within 3 months

AWS Services Used

AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless compute engine for containers that works with both Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).

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Amazon RDS

Amazon RDS makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon CloudFront

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.

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Amazon Connect

Amazon Connect is an easy to use omnichannel cloud contact center that helps you provide superior customer service at a lower cost.

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