SATs in the Cloud? ETS is Going There
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For the last 65 years, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) has been helping to perform large scale educational assessments like the SAT and GRE. ETS now does over 50 million assessments a year globally, all supported by a backend IT infrastructure.
It's an infrastructure that is now, in part, headed to the cloud in an effort to improve operational efficiency and scale.
"The whole foundation for us to scale what we do is based on complex algorithms and the ability to do that at massive scale in a fairly short period of time," Daniel Wakeman, VP and CIO, Educational Testing Service, told InternetNews.com. "Because of that, we need a lot of computing horsepower and also, the dichotomy is, we do it in bursts as our business is very cyclical."
The SAT college entrance examination, for example, occurs five times a year. When testing isn't occurring, all of ETS's computer infrastructure sits idle, as they currently don't have an easy way to re-purpose it. There is also a need for large amounts of compute power to enable research projects into different types of cognitive testing. That's why ETS began to consider the cloud as a way to lower their fixed costs in order to deal with the seasonality of their computing needs.
"Our situation today is that we have a big server farm of 900 servers running at 6 percent utilization," Wakeman said. "We have been virtualizing a bit and now we're looking at cloud."