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The stories that numbers tell: Robust (Part One)

Natalie Naik
infrastructure Talis update

Everyone loves a good story. And what tells a better story than numbers? In this series of posts, we will look at some of the stories that the numbers tell about Talis.

As a technology company, innovation is at the core of our organisation’s DNA. What we love more than technology, is partnering with universities to solve problems. We are focused on applying data and technology to connect teaching and learning in useful and innovative ways.

Where we have spearheaded new solutions and entirely new categories of systems, while some numbers tell another story.

October is always the busiest month for most of our Talis Aspire customers, as students start or return to universities across Europe. We see a second spike in February as our users in Asia-Pacific welcome their students for start of new academic year, and students at our European universities are starting their second semester. We understand how important it is to ensure continuity of service as students try to access university service, many for the first time. Which is why we are proud to say Talis Aspire achieved 100% uptime in February and October 2016.

In 2016, the average amount of time it takes Talis Aspire to respond to a user request is 0.34 seconds. That is roughly the amount of time it takes for a person to blink! Over the last three years, the application response time has remained consistent, even as we onboarded new customers and hundreds of thousands more users to the system.

The journey for Talis Aspire began in the UK, but today Talis Aspire supports universities and students across the world 24/7. The chart below shows the transaction activity in Talis Aspire on a typical day.

Screen Shot 2016-12-01 at 16.12.24

As our systems are designed to support 24/7 activity, so are our services team who work around the clock to support our customer universities around the globe.

6 minutes
Talis Aspire was unavailable for only six minutes, to date, in 2016 due to unplanned interruptions to service. Including any maintenance, Talis Aspire was unavailable for a total of 48 minutes, which includes time taken for planned updates and system maintenance, in the same time period – that is 99.9901% uptime. We understand the importance of students being able to find and access their teaching and learning resources at all times. This is why we closely monitor our systems, and more importantly vital stats that indicate performance issues that can affect our users in the future.

The longest reading list in Talis Aspire we have come across so far contains 1606 items! It is not uncommon for some faculties to have long reading lists containing hundreds of items. While Talis Aspire is already good at working with lists that contain several hundred items, we are now focused on improving the student experience for extremely long lists that contain over a thousand items.

We take performance seriously at every level, from the server to the pages and interfaces that our users interact with. Handling extremely long lists well is just one example of performance issues that affect our universities that we have learned through our many years of delivering robust systems to support teaching and learning.


For many years, we have delivered robust enterprise solutions to manage and deliver online reading lists and copyright cleared content with Talis Aspire. System availability and response times directly impact the user’s experience, and we understand that.

Around six years ago, we developed Talis Aspire working closely with our university development partners. The journey that started supporting a handful of universities, with a few hundred lists for a few thousand students today hosts tens of thousands of lists accessed by millions of students. In our next post, we will examine how Talis Aspire has successfully scaled.


Discover the next in the series: Scale

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