Study programme application service transferred to the cloud

The Finnish National Agency for Education’s Studyinfo is an online portal that allows users to search for study programmes leading to a degree in Finland and apply for studies online. The portal also serves as a seamless collection of additional services offered for Finnish education providers.

Studyinfo is used by over 300,000 learners and over 10,000 officials annually. The portal encompasses dozens of back end systems, requiring support from modern infrastructure. Originally built in a traditional server room, the National Agency for Education wanted to renew the service and transfer it over to a cloud-based platform. Gofore was the chief technical contractor in the multi-supplier project.

“The Finnish National Agency for Education had been searching for a more cost-efficient and modern capacity solution for modernising its Studyinfo service for a while. During this search we reviewed and compared several cloud-based options. The one that we found to best suit our needs was Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS is well known throughout the world and there were a good number of experts specialising in it in Finland, which was very important for us,” says Chief Information Officer Erja Nokkanen from the Finnish National Agency for Education.

Major transfer carried out without a hitch

The Studyinfo service was successfully transferred over to the AWS cloud platform in February 2018. The transfer project was challenging, as the system, which was in constant use, is composed of several interdependent back end systems and offers dozens of external integrations to other organisations, such as Kela.

“The cloud project was launched in August 2017 in collaboration between the Finnish National Agency for Education, Gofore and the National Agency for Education’s service developers. The six-month project was carried out in an agile and flexible manner, allowing the actual transfer to be conducted smoothly and without any problems,” state Erja Nokkanen and Senior Adviser Mika Rauhalafrom the Finnish National Agency for Education.

With its transfer to AWS, Studyinfo became a pioneer among major public administration systems when it comes to the technical solutions of the future. The cloud-based service was immediately put to the test in spring 2018 when tens of thousands of applicants used the service to submit their applications to upper secondary schools and higher education institutions as part of the national joint application procedure.

What kind of benefits does the new infrastructure offer?

  1. Flexible development
    The flexibility provided by the cloud platform allows developers to easily create multiple development environments. This makes it easy to add new applications and incorporate new technologies to the system through the utilisation of the platform’s existing components or the development of new ones.
  2. Scalability
    Applications can be automatically scaled both up and down according to load: up whenever more performance is needed, and down to provide cost savings. The cloud platform allows such changes to be carried out within minutes instead of days or weeks.
  3. Cost-effectiveness
    The costs of administering cloud-based infrastructure are lower than those associated with traditional infrastructure. The service platform takes care of many tasks that need to be handled manually in traditional server rooms. The costs associated with development environments are also based on usage. If a development environment is not currently used, for example, it can be shut down and booted up again when needed.
  4. Infrastructural reproducibility
    A cloud platform enables software-based infrastructure management. This way the entire system is always documented, available to all relevant parties and easily reproducible. The system’s revision history is also easier to access.
  5. DevOps
    The system is no longer a black box, as the infrastructure is accessible to everyone. Developers are responsible for their output throughout the entire lifecycle of the software, and can make quick changes to the system when necessary. Bringing the infrastructure closer to developers and product owners like this saves both time and money.

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