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34 | UCAS | HIGHER EDUCATION


W: edtechnology.co.uk | T: @Educ_Technology


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his Certificate (at QCF Level 3) is awarded in association with the Institute of Administrative Management and is part of a suite of three professional qualifications


– also including the ARMA Certificate in Research Management (QCF Level 5) and the ARMA Certificate in Research Leadership (QCF Level 7) – which are opening for enrolment over the next 15 months. Although UCAS is active year-round operating


application services, the service peaks in mid-August on A-level results day as students log into Track, UCAS’ online application system, to find out whether they have been accepted into their chosen university or college. This places much more pressure on UCAS’ IT infrastructure than any other point of the year. The UCAS IT team deployed Splunk software for


troubleshooting, performance management and operational business analytics. The Splunk solution gives UCAS’ IT team a series of visualisations of their system performance, key operational metrics (broken down by HEI), their usage, the queries they are running and how the various applications are functioning. The Splunk solution delivered improved IT operations


and applications management by indexing, searching, alerting and reporting on machine data from a number of data sources across UCAS’ IT infrastructure. These include OS log files, cloud-based IaaS, application data and Microsoft-specific information. UCAS processes personal data, so security is extremely important. Using Splunk software has enhanced UCAS’ ability to maintain its highly secure system architecture.


UCAS IT DEPLOYS NEW CUSTOMER SERVICE SOFTWARE The admissions body looks to enhance customer service through improved application management Steve Jeffree, UCAS chief operating officer, said:


“Splunk provided key operational dashboards during our busiest period, enabling IT to effectively monitor system performance.” UCAS has approximately 30 servers, on-premises


and in the cloud, forwarding log event data to a combined Splunk Indexer and Search Head. Currently UCAS indexes 4GB of machine data a day. As further systems and data sources are integrated, the amount of data indexed is expected to increase. Peter Raymond, UCAS Solution Architect said:


“Using Splunk enabled us to provide an enhanced service to our customers. We chose Splunk for its speed of geting started and feature-rich solution at a manageable cost. “During our busiest time of the year, there was a big


spike in app server CPU load that we were alerted to by Splunk. We used a Splunk dashboard to find the spike and then to drill down, identify and resolve the issue with an individual user of our systems.” Deployment of Splunk has enabled UCAS to provide


a consistent approach to log collection and retention and expose that data in an easily searchable form.


Logs were previously available by accessing each server; however, this required system administrator time and did not allow related events on different systems to be easily found. With Splunk, UCAS was able to rapidly resolve production issues, ensuring that any students or HEIs trying to use the system could easily access it, even at peak times. By capturing machine data of system usage,


UCAS gains visibility into real-world demand for its applications and services. This captured system information is used to allow creation of performance test cases. This identifies potential issues which can then be resolved preemptively. UCAS has delivered a number of dashboards to


provide insight across business and IT. A number of these dashboards make up part of their Joint Operations Centre (JOC). This gives UCAS a good view of Operational Intelligence across system performance and customer experience. In summary, Splunk is now used by the UCAS Information Technology team to provide services for application management and operational insight to keep the organisation’s IT running at peak performance. ET


Steve Jeffree


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