Over the last several months -- and for the third year running -- WolfeReiter provided a high-availability, high-performance online application solution for the Mandela Washington Fellowship. The Mandela Fellowship is the flagship program of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative -- a U.S. Department of State initiative managed by IREX. Young African leaders from every country in sub-Saharan Africa are invited to apply online for 1000 fellowship positions in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership, and public management.
WolfeReiter's cloud-based system is designed to scale using Amazon's Elastic Compute Cluster and processed upwards of 80,000 total applicants and 40,000 complete applications this year in the very short timeframe of two months with zero downtime. The system is also being used by U.S. Embassy staff and selection committees to vet and score applicants, and it is integrated with the Department of Homeland Security's SEVIS system to generate J-1 visas for selected participants.
"This online system is a great solution for managing the large volume of applications we receive each year, and we know we can always count on the WolfeReiter team to support us across multiple time zones. They really helped us make this high profile process a success." - Jill Grana, IREX Project Director
Recognizing trends in mobile device usage in Africa, this year's application was tablet and smartphone-friendly and leveraged a high-availability, load-balanced web server cluster to ensure responsiveness and reliability for sub-Saharan users. Security and privacy were major design goals of this system in past years, and this year we further strengthened that posture. Best practices such as running only the core server operating system with no GUI, extraneous components, or protocols minimized attack surface and boosted performance at the same time. A cloud-based build and deployment architecture enabled us to rapidly deploy application updates to our front-end cluster and scale up rapidly to meet surges in traffic, all while managing infrastructure costs aggressively.