The Most Powerful Weapon on Cloud

Nanyang Technological University Case Study

About NTU 

NTU is the second-largest university in Singapore with a population of 33,500 students and 10,000 faculty and staff. It is a global university founded on science and technology, nurturing leaders through research and broad education in diverse disciplines. Established in 1991, it’s Singapore’s main teaching college and is run close collaboration with Singapore’s Ministry of Education. This University aspires greatness and excellence in education, research, creativity and service, and recognises their interdependence.  

NTU prepares students for a lifetime of inquiry and contribution. They not only serve as a catalyst for economic growth but also as an enabler of talent and skills development through innovation and entrepreneurship. The National Science Research Center of Excellence is a reputed department within NTU and their mission is to conduct fundamental research on earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami and climate change in and around South East Asia and working towards a more safer and sustainable society.

The Challenge

The challenge faced by universities and schools is that there is a constant need to upgrade both hardware and software, along with the increase in cost to maintain them. The motive of universities is to make students learn and grow with technology. We know that everything now is online based and institutes completely rely on the education system to scale up their operations and increase the effectiveness of reaching out to students.

NTU wanted their students to adopt a deep approach to learning by providing them with access to resources (books, presentations, lectures or notes), giving them the convenience of not carrying any additional devices such as CD/ DVD or pen-drives. Through this approach, NTU wanted to bring a better learning experience to their students and reducing the space requirements for storage of documents along with significantly impacting the environment by decreasing the consumption of papers, printers and toners to address their ultimate mission of working towards a sustainable society.

The key objective was to host a system in a cloud hosting environment and maintain the infrastructure for students. It needs to be scalable through the use of a heterogeneous set of worker nodes from AWS. They were also looking for professional services and managed services provider with comprehensive AWS competency for the installation, operations and software maintenance of their Hybrid Cloud Science Data System (HySDS)  

Why Amazon Web Services?

As the global reach and cloud computing powerhouse, AWS gives instant access to adaptable IT resources and has the highest priority towards cloud security. These services enhance students experiences, improve outcomes, reduce costs and accelerate time to research. Amazon Web Services adopts new services to personalize education for the individual learners with teaching method changed to more of technology-based.

An increasing number of organizations have been moving their data into the cloud. They conducted a study on Cloud Disaster Recovery (Cloud DR) as a backup and restore strategy that involves storing and maintaining copies of electronic nodes through a cloud computing environment.

The speed of the network and responsiveness gave the University a lot of confidence.  AWS made its way and was able to overcome the challenges faced by NTU with its technology in place. AWS used Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) to compute capacity management thus enabling students to deploy and develop applications without hardware constraints. Amazon Simple Storage Service( S3) was used to retrieve and store data. They also created a private network within AWS to provide isolation and security by Amazon Virtual Private Cloud(VPC).

Amazon Elastic Block Storage( ESB) was used to provide block level storage volumes for use with Amazon EC2 instances. Their backup of Amazon EBS volume was done using Amazon EBS Snapshot which is stored in Amazon S3. Snapshots are incremental backups, meaning only the blocks on the device that have changed after the most recent snapshot is stored. When there is a deletion in the snapshot, only the data exclusive to that snapshot would be removed. Active snapshots contain all of the information needed to restore the data to a new Amazon EBS volume. AWS CloudTrail and AWS CloudWatch were used to audit administrative activities and monitor the performance of the system and raise alerts correspondingly.


In the process of migration to AWS, the Hybrid Science data system (HYDS) cluster was spontaneously able to adjust its infrastructure to any alteration in user demand. This can power the ingestion, metadata extraction, cataloguing, high-volume data processing, and publication of data products. The project costs and duration was reduced by 50% with the help and guidance of Cloud Comrade, a premier consulting partner of AWS.

The Implementation of DR has proved its way in many aspects. It has created a motive that there’s no excuse for being unprepared when disaster strikes. This was possible only with an enterprise focussed platform like AWS, which allows customers to focus on strategic initiatives and not just managing their data.