Prometric, one of the world’s leading providers of testing and assessment solutions, administers thousands of exams at testing centers and online each year. As part of a global technology modernization, the company was able to achieve numerous business results by moving one of its key testing platforms to the cloud.
In over 30 years, Prometric has supported more than 25 million exam hours at its 8,000 testing locations in 180 countries. The heart of its business is the administration of proctored examinations as well as overseeing certifications, accreditations and licensing programs for academic institutions and government entities worldwide.
Prometric offers everything from paper-based exams taken at a physical test center to proctored online exams. One of the key testing programs Prometric administers is the DSST (formerly known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Test) that U.S. military personnel and others can take to earn college credit. The DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) test platform is owned by Prometric and consists of dozens of subject-specific exams covering areas such as business, humanities, physical science and technology.
Moving to cloud for cost, flexibility
Faced with rising costs, Prometric opted to move its DANTES application from a legacy mainframe environment to a more cost-effective alternative. The company sought a “lift and shift” of DANTES to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI), while leveraging a third-party emulation suite. DXC Technology had deep familiarity with DANTES as the mainframe hosting provider, so Prometric chose DXC to support the application’s migration to the cloud.
The migration of DANTES is part of a corporate-wide digital transformation initiative Prometric is undergoing to move its large applications from data centers to the cloud. Among many business reasons, the transformation is intended to increase the portability of applications. Moving key applications to the cloud gives Prometric increased flexibility, such as being able to leverage APIs for innovative functionality and meet country-specific data sovereignty requirements more easily.
Meeting a tight time frame despite complexity
Continuing to run the DANTES application on the mainframe was becoming cost prohibitive. Further, with a key software license due to expire, it was imperative to complete the migration within a tight time frame of six months.
Preston Garbett, lead product manager at the company, says, “We needed to make this move and had a strict deadline, and the timeline presented a challenge.” Key milestones in the project included getting the proper software licenses in place, assessing the existing technical landscape, data migration, code conversion, unit testing, integration and regression testing.
Prometric’s primary goals were to move to the cloud in a streamlined fashion, with little to no down-time, and have the DANTES application seamlessly replicate its previous capabilities and functionality. Although the ambitious six-month time frame seemed daunting at the outset, the team was able to complete the migration with three weeks to spare. Deborah Purdy, lead programmer, attributes much of the project’s on-time success to the diligence of DXC’s employees. “They worked long hours into the night, weekends and holidays. It didn’t matter what time I called — it could have been 2 o’clock in the morning and somebody would answer.”
Smooth shift saves costs, minimizes downtime
The migration fits well into Prometric’s overall business strategy of leveraging the cloud to consolidate the operation and management of their applications environment. Moving DANTES to the cloud has proven to be cost-effective for Prometric, resulting in a significant reduction in operational costs around running the application.
“The upgrade went very smoothly,” says Preston. “One of the key requirements was that we had to have like-for-like capabilities so there was no impact to the user.”
Deborah says the transition to cloud has benefitted those administering and taking the DSST exams. “Users have the same tools as they did prior to this modernization.”
Documentation and curiosity matter
Maintaining detailed documentation is essential for continued efficiency in running a complex application such as DANTES. For example, system integration documentation guides users to know how to properly sequence batch processing. From the beginning of the project, DXC made a big effort to get all the documentation in place, Deborah says. “They were very thorough and asked a lot of questions. We had daily meetings, and they were 100 percent engaged. That contributed to the success of this project.”
Prometric credits DXC with the successful creation of documentation artifacts that clearly describe how the in-scope DANTES application would be implemented on the OCI platform. Preston praises the curiosity of the DXC team in helping meet that goal. “They asked the right questions and made sure they had a deep understanding of the application to deliver like-for-like functionality. That’s what led to making sure we had a transition that had no impact on our operations.”
Moving a business-critical application to the cloud takes careful planning, technical know-how and hard work. Faced with a stringent timeframe, DXC worked seamlessly with Prometric to complete the project early. Deborah says, “DXC was absolutely stellar, outstanding. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I’m very passionate about this program and very appreciative of everybody on the team.”