A-level results day and Clearing: how to ensure your database holds up

Sebastian Nash 22-Mar-2023 12:18:00

The third Thursday in August. Results day for A-level students in England and Wales. Dreams come true for many. Dreams are shattered for others. And every Higher Education Institution’s (HEI) CIO and DBA team will be hoping that the databases their institute is relying on, will withstand the surge in usage it will experience in the coming days. Many HEIs sensibly look to outsourced education specialist support services to reinforce their in-house teams, should the worst happen at this most critical of times.

On results day and the days after, those who’ve met their required grades head online to accept their place and start to prepare for university. Those who have missed out on their chosen places also head online and enter the often-dreaded Clearing process. For HEIs, the Clearing and admissions process, in general, is the most arduous and stressful time of the academic calendar. Many staff pause their projects to lend a hand with the avalanche of Clearing enquiries coming their way and the sheer volume of data processed far exceeds any other time of year.

If there are outages or glitches due to high demand, this could put an HEI at a significant competitive disadvantage – prospective students will not hang around to secure their place and will likely go elsewhere. It also doesn’t create a positive first impression for new and prospective students if systems are crashing whilst they are trying to make the most important decisions of their lives so far.

Most HEIs have a team of highly capable in-house DBAs who manage the databases year-round. However, many realise that their team might not have the skills or expertise to deal with every issue that could occur. To mitigate risk should such situations arise, it’s sensible for HEIs to have a reliable second line of support to call on who will be able to fix issues quickly. Any downtime must be kept to an absolute minimum. For instance, with specialism across all databases and clouds and across a range of customers, there really isn’t anything DSP-Explorer DBAs haven’t come across before. Over the years we’ve given HEIs peace of mind that at peak times, our team is right behind their own to ensure operations continue to function seamlessly.

Something we also recommend to our HEI customers are database health checks and architecture reviews. Both will involve our experts having a proper look under the bonnet (so to speak!) of your estate to highlight any issues and suggest resolutions. Depending on your needs, a health check will give a thorough report on performance, whilst an architecture review delves deeper still to take a more holistic look at the set-up of your whole estate. Our experts’ recommendations and, if necessary, fixes, will mean you won’t encounter problems at peak times, so you can enter future Clearing periods fully confident in the capabilities of your IT estate.

If you are in any way concerned about your databases’ performance, please do get in touch with our specialists who can assess the unique requirements of your institution and see how we might be able to help.