In Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), Grade G12 students take a final exam similar to ACT. The test results determine the students' future, such as which university they should attend and which major they may study.
Any student entering G12 may have many mental breakdowns during the year. Students are under pressure because they have studied hard for a whole year, and when it comes to the end of the period, they are still stressed about the process of getting their results back. Since 2012, G12 students have been getting their results online by logging into an account that was created for them.
But unfortunately, the group that ran this website for providing the results to the students failed every year with many website errors. The students have always suffered from website errors as they are all impatient with the website at the same time. As a result, the website gets overloaded with high traffic and becomes difficult to handle. and the website slows down even sometimes the website was down for hours. while some higher families try to get the exam results illegally fast. This problem has been going on for quite some time. So, improvements were made but the website still showed errors.
In fact, this year (2020) was the toughest year for students, especially G12 students, because of the Covid-19 pandemic. But the Ministry of Education, with the support of UNICEF, gave 1.5 million students the opportunity to receive their education from home in KRI. This was a positive and effective solution for G12 students during the pandemic. And fortunately, Avesta Group found just the right solution to deliver G12 students' exam results flawlessly through a new website.
Avesta Group worked with Microsoft to solve the problem. The project was entirely dependent on Microsoft Azure Services. In order to provide Microsoft services to the Ministry of Education, Avesta Group fully funded the project. The goal of the project was to resolve website errors for the Department of Education and for G12 students.
Their sponsorship helped the Ministry of Education to handle all the risks of management and find a solution to deliver every exam result of every student without any error. They have mentioned that this problem can only be solved by new processes and new technology.
Although other entities tried to solve this problem by providing too many powerful servers for one year. While the high traffic on the website needs powerful servers for a few days. The high number of servers is wasted for a whole year. Improving or increasing servers is too costly and will not solve the overload issue.
The website is heavily used and needs powerful servers for a short period of time. Students are all using the website at the same time and the slightest error will affect them negatively. When an error occurs on the website, there is only a short period of time to fix the problem.
The problems with Domain Name System (DNS) and Content Delivery Network (CDN) lead to errors while cyber security in the process is also a problem as many people try to hack the website. The process needs powerful management and security.
The solutions that Avesta Group provided were effective and efficient. They used Microsoft Azure systems to create a robust system. Two sites were created and enabled through Azure Traffic Manager; this is a load balancer and allows you to distribute traffic and tasks into multiple resources in an efficient manner to be more available and responsive. Azure Traffic Manager; which is a load balancer and permits you to distribute traffic and tasks into multiple resources in an efficient way for being more available and responsive.
Avesta Group used the most cost-efficient and time-effective type of cloud computing , which is called platform as a service (PaaS), instead of using infrastructure as a service (IaaS) — which needs too much labour and it is costly. As well as to prevent operating system problems, Azure SQL and Web App service were used instead of virtual server.
The first site is composed of Web App which works like a web server. Through Premium Service Plan , the server gets elasticity and expands due to high traffic. As well as using Azure SQL Database and Azure Storage for saving the statistics and website information. In addition to the first site, a second site was created with the same structure and form but in a larger way. Both of the sites sync together and contain the same database. A third site was also created for unexpected situations. Thus, it was inactivated but contained the same database and same information as the two sites.
In case, if someone wanted to hack or act inappropriately in the website, that individual directly gets blocked by Azure Firewall which provides security and protection. As well as Azure Security Center which is created to give instructions for any problem or any security issue. The three site structures are shown in diagram (A):
Diagram A: The Process of Azure Traffic Manager for The Three Sites
Avesta Group successfully launched the website for G12 students on August 12, 2020. They managed to successfully run the process within 8 days. They tested programming and performance of the website beforehand. As well as monitoring the servers and the number of users successfully. Approximately 1,000 people were on the website thirty minutes before publishing the test results. While publishing the test results, approximately 90% of the students got their results in the first half hour. The website was constantly monitored by Avesta Group in order to detect any error and fix it immediately.
Thus, the plan was successfully implemented, and even with the highest number of website users that has been recorded, which was 500,000 people, the website didn’t overload the servers. Overall, 100% of the students got their exam results in the first hour and the number of the visitors decreased in due course. Avesta Group is content with their effort since every student got their exam result in the right time. All G12 students were satisfied about the website since they didn’t face any problem in the process.
Avesta Group conveniently solved the problem of the website and its complexities for The Ministry of Education by the support of new technology and the use of new platforms such as Microsoft Azure. The Group also provides technological and business solutions for small and midsized businesses in order to succeed. As well as using Azure solutions for solving many other technological problems. Overall, there are a lot of problems in the KRI that can be conveniently solved through using new technological strategies.