A Global Leader in Standardized Tests
Client:Educational Testing Service (ETS)
- Need large amounts of computing power on a periodic basis.
- Time required to provision IT resources slows business agility and responsiveness
- Deploy CSC CloudCompute, a VMware vCloud Datacenter Service
- Provide access to “on-demand” computing power
- Pay only for what is used, not for idle or underutilized infrastructure.
- Increase IT flexibility, scalability and portability
- Pursue new business opportunities faster
Educational Testing Service (ETS) is the world's largest private nonprofit educational testing and assessment organization. The company is responsible for developing and administering such familiar standardized tests as the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and other well-known examinations.
How busy do these tests keep ETS? In any given year, ETS develops, administers and scores more than 50 million tests in more than 180 countries, at 9,000+ locations worldwide.
Bursts of activity
For ETS, the workloads come and go in bursts of intense computing activity. Some tests, such as end-of-year exams, are administered only once a year, meaning that ETS needs access to large amounts of computing power for these tests during a narrow window once a year.
“During our cyclical periods, we need a lot more on-demand infrastructure and the ability to get them up very quickly, but only for a very short period of time,” explains Dan Wakeman, vice president and chief information officer for ETS. “It could be weeks, it could be months, but it’s not the whole year.”
Given the company’s irregular — but intense — spikes of activity, a more agile and cost-effective platform for IT infrastructure was in order. Cloud computing, with its capacity for scalability and elasticity, offered a logical next step.
A shift to the cloud
ETS turned to CSC, which provides several cloud computing solutions and has partnerships with key industry players such as VMware, EMC, Cisco and VCE to help it select the right cloud model.
After carefully evaluating ETS’ business needs, CSC recommended CSC CloudCompute, a VMware vCloud Datacenter Service, as the cloud offering that would best fit the company’s workloads.
“We were already using VMware in our data centers,” says Bob Foy, principal enterprise architect at ETS. “So, there was no doubt that whether we chose an external cloud vendor or built our own private cloud, we were going to do something that utilized VMware technology. [Its] market-leading comprehensive offerings are constantly being driven by innovation. That’s where we want to be.”
CSC CloudCompute combines CSC’s proven expertise in managed services and cybersecurity with leading virtualization software from VMware; unified networking, security and computing from Cisco; and storage, security and management technologies from EMC — all in one integrated package.
“We don’t have the time or skills to figure out how to bring various vendors and technologies together to create a fully managed secure cloud environment,” says Wakeman. “That’s where we look to CSC.”
By embracing the cloud, ETS is moving to a model of “pay for what you use” and therefore avoids paying for unused or underutilized infrastructure.
The shift to the cloud has paid off in other ways, according to Wakeman: “To me, the real value is the flexibility, scalability and portability. We can quickly add or remove capacity as needed.”
This ability to grow on demand will come in handy in helping the company develop its Speech Rater application — a program with complex algorithms and very high compute requirements.
To meet the projected volume that the application would generate among users, ETS would have had to add a significant number of servers to its current deployment at a considerable cost. Instead, ETS will be able to easily shift this workload onto CSC CloudCompute, paying only for what is needed at any given time. ETS hopes to leverage this scalability in meeting growth targets in emerging countries such as China and India, helping to grow the business.
“Long range, we want to be able to respond to opportunities to do assessment work and expand these efforts on a global basis,” says Wakeman. “Our cloud infrastructure will enable us to respond more rapidly to these opportunities and do so at a lower price point than we otherwise could. Cloud computing will continue to provide increased agility for us as we learn new ways to use it across the enterprise.”
Download this Success Story (PDF).