F5 solution provides a smooth day-to-day operation support for Unika Atma Jaya and its 15 thousand students and lecturers.
Speed and security is crucial for every university IT system, especially when thousands of students are filing up their study card, picking what classes to attend for their next semester at the same time. This situation really put the university IT system to the test.
This situation get more complicated in Unika Atma Jaya that was founded on June 1st, 1960 since the university put a certain student quota for each class available, making some favorite classes get rushed by students. Trying to get a seat in a class could be as hard as getting a seat in an airplane to a favorite holiday destination during a peak season.
“The filing period is also very limited in just one week and we do it twice a year,” says CIO Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia Danny Natalies.
Thus, Unika Atma Jaya needs a tough online IT system to manage the task: handling thousands of students filing at a same time without the risk of system down or error function.
Danny says down system leads to financial loss since the university generates most of its revenue during the period. “One day malfunction could cause 10% loss of the university annual income.
Unika Atma Jaya is an institution under the Atma Jaya Foundation. Founded 58 years ago, the university now has 8 faculties, 26 science majors, and 7 post-graduate programs. The university has 11.5 thousands students and over a thousand professors.
The Right Solution
To assure the process runs safe and smooth, Danny says Unika Atma Jaya rely on F5 for its IT solution. The university became aware of F5 reliability since three years ago, however at the time Atma Jaya didn’t have the urge to adopt the solution yet.
Danny says picking an IT solution is like choosing a car that fits your needs. A city car probably fit a single, but after marriage and children, one might need another type of car.
Before using the F5, Unika Atma Jaya used several IT system that to some extent able to get things done. However, when the burden increases, the solution began experiencing problem. And sometime the solution offers unnecessary features. These unnecessary features could create burden that slows down the performance of the core feature when running its function.
The university also experiencing problem when using other load balancing solution. Previously Microsoft Network Balancer seems to be able to handle the load from one or two campuses, but as the university grows further, the system can’t keep up. While, F5 is also known to provide both security and network balancing feature, which is the most important features needed by Unika Atma Jaya as numbers of student, lecturers and employees keep growing. Thus, Unika Atma Jaya tried to find new solutions and partners for its problems.
MII as Partner
Unika Atma Jaya decided to partner with PT Mitra Integrasi Informatika (MII) when implementing the F5 solution after going through a tender process. When deciding which partner to choose, Danny says, the university prefers what technology is being offered and pricing.
The tender was done in the end of 2017. “During the tender process, we create a list of need that is given to the participant. From all the participant, what MII has to offer suit with our needs,” says Danny. MII proposed F5 as solution. And Danny describes the F5 solution as a specific tool while others seems more general problem solver.
The implementation process took 3 months. Proof Of Concept (POC) or system security test was conducted in two weeks. During the first test all the website access was blocked, a sign that the system is running. At the same time, the test also showed the previous system was vulnerable.
From the report result, in one hour, Atma Jaya website received 6,000 attacks. Many features were turned into bots, even some PC was already hacked. These attacks was previously unseen. Thus, when the F5 system was implemented, it immediately block malicious websites. If the condition was unfixed, sooner or later it will affect to the reputation of the university.
Danny says he’s happy partnering with MII as the company is very flexible in providing its services “While others has a limited working hours, MII is willing to solve problem outside office hours,” he says.
F5 Top Features
Unika Atma Jaya decided to rely on the F5 because the solution is able to run intelligent application cloud at a stability, security, and performance level expected by the university. Atma Jaya currently uses hybrid cloud technology, a part of multi-cloud technology, and maybe the first university that puts its core system in hybrid cloud.
Hybrid cloud becomes a storage alternative for those who still want control and the freedom to build their own data center. “The best compromise is hybrid. In ideal times, we run on premises. But during high load, we shift it to the cloud and the F5 runs the process very well,” says Danny.
Shifting from on premises to hybrid system runs smoothly with the F5. Thus making it more flexible and secure and also time efficient.
Why choose hybrid? Danny says it will be a waste if Unika Atma Jaya has to build its own data center. This is because peak season is just 20 percent a year (during student filling), while there is a risk to rely all in public cloud.
Currently there are fifteen thousand users of the F5 solution in the university. Not just students, lecturers and employees, the users also include students’ parents, fellowship students and business clients.
“Since we use the F5, we haven’t received any complaints from users. This is an indication of a good quality product,” Danny explains.
Beside its leading features in data security and processing speed, F5 is also equipped with Web Application Firewall (WAF). WAF is a filter program capable of sorting, monitoring, and blocking access towards malicious web applications.
WAF is also capable in blocking indecent and dangerous contents like pornography, spyware, virus, etc. Which make the F5 solution really fit with the needs of education industry says Danny.