Moldova Delivers E-Government Interoperability Platform Powered By WSO2 Middleware Platform
The E-Government Center of Moldova Relies on Integrated, Open Source WSO2 Middleware to Provide a Cloud-Based Platform for Securely and Easily Exchanging Data
The Republic of Moldova is perhaps best known for its rich heritage as a wine producer. Archeologists have found proof that grapes were being cultivated there as early as 2,800 BC, and the country now produces more than 124,200 tons of wine each year. However, with eye toward balancing tradition and an increasingly digital future, the Government of Republic of Moldova has been investing in the e-transformation of all its public services.
In August 2010, the Republic of Moldova E-Government Center was established to support the government’s e-transformation agenda. Since then, it has focused on the technical modernization of the public sector in order to create a more efficient, transparent and connected government. Guided by international best practices, the organization has worked in partnership with the World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), private sector, civil society, and public officials of the Republic of Moldova.
At the heart of the E-Government Center of Moldova’s technical modernization efforts is MConnect, an interoperability platform designed to facilitate the exchange of data between government entities. MConnect serves as the core of the process for re-engineering the Republic of Moldova’s public services, since it enables the streamlined delivery of public services—both for citizens and businesses—as well as the optimization of internal governmental business processes.
Today, the MConnect interoperability platform is based on several products from the cloudenabled, fully multi-tenant and 100% open source WSO2 enterprise middleware platform. Together, the WSO2 products have enabled the E-Government Center of Moldova to create a trusted platform that allows government entities to exchange data securely and easily and ensures high availability for users.
Figure 1: The vision of the E-Government Center of Moldova is to have all public services electronic and accessible to citizens and businesses through digital means by 2020.
Goal: Move All Public Services Online by 2020
The E-Government Center of Moldova aims to make all public services available online to citizens and businesses by 2020. To support this objective, the organization is creating an electronic service infrastructure that handles security and identity, including the authentication of citizens and businesses; digital signatures; electronic payments; electronic messaging to communicate proactively about status or to request action; cloud hosting; interoperability through MConnect; the delivery of documents, papers and other content; and client support.
Critical to the success of the implementation is not just connecting the many heterogeneous systems where information resides, but also establishing a level of trust among the users providing or accessing that data.
Figure 2: The electronic services infrastructure being implemented by the E-Government Center of Moldova supports a range of capabilities
“You, as Public Authority A, want to connect to Authority B, describe your needs, and prove you have the right to read the data sources,” explains Artur Reaboi, enterprise architect, E-Government Center of Moldova. “We are providing interfaces for the data you need, and it should not matter to you where the data came from, since it is coming from another public institution.”
MConnect serves to insulate the interfaces for consuming and providing data. Providers are only required to implement a small number of SOAP and/or REST services via a managed data API to make information accessible, and consumers can ask to get data for multiple services.
For example, once all government entities are online, Mr. Reaboi notes, “The border police will be able make a single request to MConnect to query if a person crossing border is wanted or have other restrictions.”
Choosing a Platform
In architecting MConnect, the team within the E-Government Center of Moldova had to make key technology decisions. First, the infrastructure would need to support high availability. This led to the decision to rely on a private cloud architecture.
“By law, the government is restricted to using data center facilities within our country’s geographical borders,” Mr. Reaboi observed. “Because no big cloud providers met this requirement, we have implemented a private cloud designed to support the entire government.”
Additionally, the organization needed to determine what software platform would serve as the basis for MConnect. The E-Government Center of Moldova conducted an evaluation that followed World Bank rules and included a comprehensive set of requirements, which had been developed with the assistance of an international expert.
"We were happy that an open source platform like WSO2 could address all of our technical demands and help us to meet our funding requirements. "
E-Government Center of Moldova
“We tried to be as neutral as possible; we didn’t even call this middleware,” Mr. Reaboi recalled. “The requirements were based on documented needs for a service-oriented architecture and how to deal with the exchange of data across different systems.”
After reviewing the offerings from more than 10 different vendors, the E-Government Center of Moldova selected WSO2 as its enterprise middleware platform provider.
“WSO2 met our many technical requirements, which covered not just what we need now but also our future needs,” Mr. Reaboi explained. “We were happy that an open source platform like WSO2 could address all of our technical demands and help us to meet our funding requirements.”
Optimizing the Implementation Process
The E-Government Center of Moldova kicked off the implementation by engaging WSO2 professional services for an extended QuickStart program. Following the QuickStart engagement, the organization obtained development support, which was primarily used by its local technology partner building the system.
“During the QuickStart, we discussed with WSO2 how we wanted to use the products, and they helped us to position them correctly within the architecture,” Mr. Reaboi recalled. “With the development support, WSO2 was able to answer the questions we had, even on several occasions when we had special requirements.”
Iurie Turcanu, chief technology officer, e-Government Center of Moldova added, “WSO2 helped us in tuning the platform, which we had not originally planned. We had an architecture review before going into production, with four months of testing and tuning, and we got bigger numbers after implementing WSO2’s suggestions. So when we went into production, we knew it was done.”
In addition to development support, E-Government Center of Moldova, also purchased product support from WSO2.
" We had an architecture review before going into production, with four months of testing and tuning, and we got bigger numbers after implementing WSO2’s suggestions. So when we went into production, we knew it was done. "
Chief Technology Officer,
E-Government Center of Moldova
“With product support from WSO2, we have the confidence that what we deliver is according to spec and is scalable, elastic and secure enough to meet our needs,” says Mr. Turcanu.
Architecture for Trusted Data Access
The MConnect interoperability platform provides the basis of a data exchange through which different government agencies can access information. At present, this platform primarily takes advantage of three products from the WSO2 platform: WSO2 Data Services Server (WSO2 DSS), WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus (WSO2 ESB), WSO2 Business Activity Monitor, and WSO2 Identity Server.
WSO2 Data Services Server allows data to be exposed as Web services and enables users to access data securely from a centralized point within MConnect. Through WSO2 DSS, ministries and agencies within the Republic of Moldova now are exchanging data in ways that previously were not possible.
“In the past, if ministries or agencies wanted to access data from the system, they would have to build a solution or do a change request to an existing system. Many times the costs were too high to justify the investment,” Mr. Reaboi recalled. “With WSO2 DSS, these users can access data via a secure service from a central point simply by using an SQL query or stored procedure.”
WSO2 Enterprise Service Bus is used extensively for mediation across the systems that connect with MConnect. Only a small percentage of data is consumed in the same form that it originated in. Instead, data transformation through WSO2 ESB bridges the different protocols and authentication methods used by different government entities. Additionally, WSO2 ESB adds a level of security to sharing data.
“With WSO2 ESB, data providers know who consumes the data, and they can monitor the service if there is a security risk or another concern,” Mr. Reaboi explains. “We are seeing acceptance of the system because data providers can control what they are exposing, and, at the same time, they don’t decide to whom to give data access as soon as the data exchange is in a legal context.”
Performance tests using two ESB worker nodes showed 5,000 messages per second being processed in the simplest scenarios. Meanwhile the processing rate was 200 messages per second for encrypted and signed messages that were 5K in size.
" With WSO2 ESB, data providers know who consumes the data, and they can monitor the service if there is a security risk or another concern. "
E-Government Center of Moldova
WSO2 Business Activity Monitor also plays an important role in protecting data, providing the E-Government Center of Moldova with reports on who is accessing what data and when.
“Having so many government entities connected, we want to prevent any abuse of access to personal or corporate data,” Mr. Reaboi observes. “We have to exchange data, but citizens and businesses need to be assured that this information will only be accessed for authorized use cases. We use WSO2 BAM to look at how data is being exchanged, and this is crucial to ensuring the proper use of data.”
WSO2 Identity Server provides single sign-on (SSO) to the MConnect management consoles. Integrated with the E-Government Center of Moldova’s private cloud, WSO2 Identity Server complements the SSO software already in place to access various government systems.
“By integrating WSO2 Identity Server with our existing SSO solution, we can provide single sign-on across the system without having special user management needs,” Mr. Reaboi says.
Figure 3: At the heart of the E-Government Center of Moldova’s technical modernization efforts is MConnect, a cloud-based interoperability platform designed to facilitate the exchange of data between government entities.
Cloud-Based Multi-Tenancy and Elasticity
The MConnect interoperability platform resides on MCloud, the E-Government Center of Moldova’s private cloud, and takes advantage of the inherent multi-tenancy of WSO2’s middleware products. “We heavily use the multi-tenancy feature in WSO2’s software,” Mr. Reaboi notes. “Through this multi-tenancy, government institutions on our data exchange are partitioned from other participants. Each entity can only see what configurations are there for its organization. It is isolated from the others.”
Additionally, Mr. Turcanu explains, “Using concepts from cloud computing, such as data virtualization, reduces the dependencies between data providers and data consumers, and it helps the related eliminate latencies.”
The organization also takes advantage of NGINX for elastic load balancing and scaling of the WSO2 products used in MConnect.
“We have demonstrated that the WSO2 products are elastic and cloud-aware,” says Mr. Turcanu. “Using NGINX, we have the ability to add server nodes to meet the demands of our centralized platform. In particular, the ability to add WSO2 ESB nodes is crucial for us.”
Expanding Government Adoption and Services
Technically MConnect has been in production since mid-2015. However, from a government adoption standpoint, the past year has served as a pilot year for working with select government agencies to tune the processes for working with the system and sharing data with other entities.
To date, there have been 15 institutions connected as tenants to MConnect, which has been implemented with high availability (HA) across 30 server nodes, and more than 3 million real data messages have been exchanged across these entities. The E-Government Center of Moldova has completed 30 integration projects handling 40 Web services to date.
In 2016, the E-Government Center of Moldova will begin connecting other government institutions to MConnect, and the team has more than 30 additional integration projects in the queue. Additionally, the organization is looking to expand its use of WSO2’s middleware.
" We are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far, and we see tremendous opportunity for expanding our use of WSO2’s software as we continue the digital transformation of our government. "
Chief Technology Officer,
E-Government Center of Moldova
“We have additional WSO2 products in place today, including WSO2 Business Process Server, WSO2 Complex Event Server (WSO2 CEP), WSO2 API Manager, and WSO2 Governance Registry,” Mr. Reaboi notes. “We are not using them in production yet, but we opted for these products because we see that they can help us to address our long-term needs.”
WSO2 API Manager is expected to play a role in opening up government APIs to the general public. The E-Government Center of Moldova also plans to expand its use of analytics. The organization is evaluating how it might make use of WSO2 CEP. Alternatively, the engineering team sees great potential for WSO2 Data Analytics Server (WSO2 DAS). The next evolution of WSO2 BAM, it combines into one integrated platform batch analytics, real-time streaming analytics via the functionality from WSO2 CEP, and predictive analytics from WSO2’s new machine learning technology.
“We are very interested in switching from WSO2 BAM to WSO2 Data Analytics Server,” says Mr. Reaboi. “We understand the value of combining batch, real-time and predictive analytics into one product, and we look forward to using it as soon as possible.”
Figure 4: The Mconnect interoperability platform architecture incorporates several products from the integrated open source WSO2 enterprise middleware platform.
Looking ahead, Mr. Turcanu notes, “We would like our MConnect interoperability platform to be the coordinating authority that knows how to interact with each consumer and provider. Using the combined capabilities of WSO2’s middleware products, we have been able to create a platform that makes this validation concept possible. It does not matter who authors the data, and soon as users know that the information is authentic and consistent, they can use it.” He adds, “We are very pleased with the results we have achieved so far, and we see tremendous opportunity for expanding our use of WSO2’s software as we continue the digital transformation of our government.”