As digital transformation sweeps across industries, more and more organizations are adopting cloud-native technologies to modernize their IT infrastructure. Kubernetes has become the go-to solution for managing containers at scale. The Municipality of Utrecht adopted Kubernetes and leveraged the advantages of Otomi to transform its IT infrastructure and improve services for its residents.
The Municipality of Utrecht is a forward-thinking local government with over 4,000 employees and a budget of 1.7 billion euros. Utrecht, which has a population of 360,000, is known as a city that values equal opportunities, affordable housing, and the environment. With a commitment to continuously improving the quality of life for its residents, the Municipality of Utrecht was faced with the task of modernizing and optimizing its IT infrastructure. This ultimately resulted in the adoption of Kubernetes technology. Through this case study, we will explore how the Municipality of Utrecht met this challenge and utilized the advantages of Kubernetes to better serve its residents.
The Municipality of Utrecht, along with other municipalities, realized the urgency to speed up the delivery of features, applications, and data. However, they encountered a challenge due to the complex and highly siloed application and data landscape. Applications and data were tied to their origin, and making connections between the silos was complex, costly, and time-consuming, often taking 3 to 6 months for even minor updates.
Furthermore, municipalities faced an increasing need to collaborate and leverage each other's applications and information. A more reusable and reproducible architecture between municipalities would facilitate this, making it easier to share information while also bringing cost and speed benefits.
The initiative that originated from this was a reform of the municipalities' current information system andarchitecture, based on Common Ground. The Municipality of Utrecht, alongside 15 other major cities, wasamong the pioneers to test some concepts of data exchange between municipalities throughmicroservices and an API-driven approach, with the goal of establishing standards. Initially, configurationmanagement tools and processes were explored, but it quickly became clear that this containerizedenvironment required Kubernetes for container orchestration.
Due to a lack of skills in Kubernetes engineering, the Municipality of Utrecht had to make a decision.Should it delegate infrastructure and Kubernetes engineering responsibilities to developers and external parties, or would it be able to establish a platform engineering team? Delegating platform engineering activities to development teams could jeopardize the use of standards and pose operational risks for security and compliance requirements. In contrast, with a platform engineering team, developers could focus on coding, while the platform engineering team could focus on ensuring security, compliance, scalability, and stability. The Municipality of Utrecht chose to focus engineering investments on software and let developers concentrate on their code.
To establish a platform engineering team, knowledge and skills in Kubernetes were required. To tackle this challenge, the Municipality of Utrecht searched for a solution that would make Kubernetes easily manageable and ready for production without requiring extensive staff training. The proposed solutions revealed that the open-source project Otomi could deliver precisely that. As the Municipality of Utrecht also launched the Public Cloud initiative, it became clear that combining a Cloud (Azure) Kubernetes service withOtomi's production-ready Kubernetes capabilities would provide the solution.With the help of Otomi, the Kubernetes environment could be set up in a matter of days, which would have otherwise taken months.
Otomi on top of Kubernetes allows us to accelerate our containerization and cloud journey in which we modernize our architecture towards microservices and an API centric infrastructure. The outcomes achieved by the City of Utrecht and the Red Kubes team are exciting and we are looking forward to next milestones as we scale our capabilities. Lazo Bozarov, Senior Manager Digital Services of the Municipality of Utrecht
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