Government institutions across the globe are using cloud-based technologies to add value to citizens and improve their functionality. The government agency featured in this blog is no different, having built a service platform to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and foster sustainability in the long term. With over 32,000 state employees, 170 business units, over 1,400 IT professionals, and over 100 data centers/server rooms, a transformation of this scale was challenging. Yet, the team who oversees this project saw an opportunity for improvement and seized it.
The team in charge of this project at the government agency is responsible for IT strategy, enterprise capabilities, policies/procedures, and managing high-risk, high-funded projects. The service platform was rolled out as a solution to bring about better data sharing practices, solve security issues, and to not re-invent the wheel all the time or start projects from scratch. With these issues in mind, this team had a clear set of objectives of what they wanted to achieve. At the top of the priority list were cost reduction and sustainability as being a public institution, accountability was a key consideration. Other objectives included the enforcement of standards, revenue generation from data and services, a profitable mechanism for data sharing, allowing better data discoverability, risk reduction, and ease of development/maintenance from a developer’s perspective.
To address these requirements, this government agency turned to the public cloud and decided to implement the service platform as a private PaaS. They were not looking to replace all the applications, rather preferred custom applications across the state agencies. They were also looking to expose data through APIs for private consumption, make the collaboration environment API-centric across the state, shorten their development cycle and ensure all the data is private to the state to mitigate any security and compliance risks. The agency was also looking at economies of scale as not all of the hundreds of applications were fully utilized at one given time. Their existing architecture was entirely hosted on AWS, but for the revamped architecture, AWS was limited to the infrastructure while the rest was built by using WSO2’s integration and identity and access management capabilities.
Introducing this service platform brought with it another set of challenges. With agencies working independently, they had to be convinced to opt-in for this platform. Additionally, round-the-clock support was needed along with the right pricing model. Fortunately, the team leading this project found successful strategies and has several applications in the pipeline now. “Size the menu right” is one of their analogies for success, i.e. to reduce the scope of applications to the most sought after ones. Initially, his team spent 30% to 40% of their time maintaining the sheer volume of applications, which is now handled by WSO2's Managed Cloud. Several issues, such as the pricing model, are still work in progress, but buoyed by the successes, this government agency foresees a busy future.