AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) is the United Kingdom's largest examination board handling millions of marks, coursework, and completed exam papers by over 1,000 employees and 35,000 volunteers. AQA has a leading reputation for promoting education for the public benefit and draws on long experience of setting and marking public exams such as GCSEs, A-levels and other qualifications, as well as offering first class support for teachers and learners and are always at the forefront of development of new qualifications.
AQA is also an independent registered charity that solely runs examinations and carries out research and development to improve their qualifications and services. With such an important mission and limited resources, it is imperative that AQA use the highest quality tools at the lowest possible cost to maximise their efforts.
The Challenge: Reduce Operational Costs
When AQA embarked on their Examiner Extranet project, they realized that their existing database would be too costly to scale out to handle the expected loads over the Internet. So they investigated an open source-based database solution for the lower cost of ownership involved. In addition, the database had to be compatible with their existing database to reduce recoding and to ease data sharing and migration. Finally, they looked into deploying the whole application through an open source stack to maximise their savings, so the database also had to work well with other open source components.
The Solution: An Open Source Application Stack
AQA's solution included: EDB Postgres™ Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB® (EDB™), Red Hat® JBoss® Enterprise Application Platform, and JBoss Portal. AQA selected EDB Postgres Advanced Server because of its compatibility with their existing database, its low cost, its reliable and robust functionality, and because it was supported and endorsed by third party product vendors.