Exxon Automation Pvt. Ltd, the company given the online registration work for degree courses in the University of Mumbai, said they did not get enough time to develop the website.
The website crashed on Tuesday, the first day of registration, and has been working erratically since then.
According to Prasad Bandivdekar, director of the information technology firm, they were given the contract to develop an online process for enrolment, eligibility and migration of students, on June 7, while the registration process was scheduled to start on June 14, leaving just seven days to create the system.
He said though they managed to develop the system before the online registration started, they did not get time to test it before opening it up for registrations.
While the website was inaccessible to students for a few hours on the first day, it had slowed down on Wednesday and Thursday. Bandivdekar said the system had failed because of the heavy traffic on the website.
“There was no technical glitch in the system. However, the servers were not able to handle the load on the website. While we were prepared to handle around 2 lakh applications, on the first day, we received as many as 3 lakh hits on the webpage,” he said.
Initially, the company had installed 10 servers to handle the traffic and later added 15. “The servers didn’t crash on the first day. We had switched them off for an upgrade,” said Bandivdekar.
The Mumbai-based company, founded in 1996, said they have done several projects in other universities and education boards across the country, including the Maharshtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary and have experience handling heavy online traffic. The company director said they couldn’t do a trial of the servers , as a project of this scale usually requires a month to complete.
A senior university official agreed there was a delay in the bidding process. The tenders to develop a system to handle enrolment, eligibility and migration of students were floated on May 20, just five days before the HSC results were declared. The final contract between MU and Exxon was signed on June 8.
For last four years, the process was handled by the Maharashtra Knowledge Corporation Limited (MKCL) - a state-run company. This year, the university opted for a competitive bidding process, in a bid to get rid of MKCL. “The university has had several disputes with MKCL. We are trying to move away from it now,” said a senior varsity official.
According to sources, several companies had participated in the bidding process. However, only three - Exxon, MKCL and Hindustan Computers Ltd - matched the varsity’s criteria. The university said within three years, it would acquire the system developed by the contractors and manage the admissions and examinations on its own.