Home' Teacher : April 2011 Contents CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 29
platform to be convinced that we could build
the ESSA application for this platform and
deliver the scalability we needed on the day.
Our team set about learning Azure and
changing the existing application so that
it could run on Azure. We had six short
months to get everything ready for the event
in October and du ring that time, we learned
a lot about how to design such applications.
We had to simulate having 80,000 students
log on and undertake a test. We needed 50
computers spread around the world to run
the simulation scripts that tested the web
application to this capacity. We ran the sim-
ulations more than 20 times before we were
confident we had everything ready to go.
In October 2010, the first online ESSA
test was delivered to roughly half of all
the high schools in NSW. In the morning
we turned on 300 ESSA web servers in
the Microsoft Azure datacentre, creating
one of the largest spikes in usage for the
datacentre to date. That afternoon, after
schools had finished, we turned them off
So, after ESSA 2010, what next? We are
trialling the next version of the test, with
more functionality then ever before. We are
also hoping the technologies that we have
pioneered can be used in other areas or other
states. A number of education departments
overseas have heard about the test and are
in discussions with us about how they might
build similar environments.
We have always been an advocate of
technology in education, but have also been
realistic about the budget and resource con-
straints of public education. ESSA 2010 has
shown that new, innovative web applications
can be delivered successfully at scale and
that such delivery can result in real savings.
The opportunity and challenge is now to
imagine what else can be created with such
Wayne Houlden is the Chief Executive
Offic er of Janison .
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