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Cloud Native Ecosystem / Containers / Kubernetes / Operations / Platform Engineering

How Otomi Helped the City of Utrecht Move to Kubernetes

May 15th, 2023 10:00am by
Featued image for: How Otomi Helped the City of Utrecht Move to Kubernetes
Image by Brigitte Werner from Pixabay.

With digital transformation sweeping across industries, we are seeing more and more organizations adopting cloud native technologies to modernize their IT infrastructure. Kubernetes have become the go-to solution for many when managing containers at scale.

While my experience building Red Kubes as CTO has highlighted the need for these technologies, it has also shed light on how integral the adoption process is for companies and organizations, such as The Municipality of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Together, we addressed a common issue being complex and siloed applications. For context, Utrecht is one of the largest municipalities in the Netherlands that deals with a myriad of applications and huge volumes of data.

Essentially, its IT infrastructure needed a more modern approach to improving its services for the residents. I’m sure you’ve personally experienced the struggle and frustration of trying to get something from your council, municipality, or city.

The Challenge:

At Red Kubes, we designed Otomi (our open source platform) to address these issues, we personalize each aspect of the platform to meet the needs of the user. Considering the challenge lay in speeding up delivery, building connections between these siloes was of utmost importance.

Otomi logo

Before we stepped in, the process when updating (or even changing) was time-consuming, costly and complex.

Furthermore, there was an increasing need for collaboration and information exchange between municipalities, but the current architecture made it difficult to achieve.

I believe many organizations are facing similar issues in modernizing their infrastructure to support more modern application architectures

To address these challenges, Utrecht, along with 15 other major cities, initiated a review of their current information systems and architecture based on “Common Ground.”

The goal was to establish modern standards for data exchange between municipalities through microservices and an API-driven approach. The new standards could not be supported by the existing infrastructure so there was a need to transition to a modern architecture.

As applications and workloads were to be containerized for better cloud portability, Kubernetes was identified as the ideal solution for container orchestration.

Utrecht recognized that they would need to hire talent or contractors with the necessary skills and expertise to set up and manage a Kubernetes environment.

It’s a good thing the city was aware of the complexity of Kubernetes but especially what comes after installing a Kubernetes cluster.

The Solution:

Utrecht searched for a solution that would make Kubernetes easily manageable and ready for production without requiring extensive staff training or hiring new talent in such a tight market. The proposed solutions revealed that our open-source project Otomi could deliver to requirements.

In a nutshell, Otomi simplifies Kubernetes Engineering and management of all additional components required to run Kubernetes in a secure, compliant, and automated way providing self-service to developers. It is designed to enable organizations to get the most out of their containerized applications in just a few days.

Utrecht successfully adopted Kubernetes technology by leveraging Otomi and creating a platform engineering team to build a production-ready platform on top of the Azure Kubernetes environment.

This allowed developers to concentrate on coding while the platform engineering team focused on security, compliance, scalability and stability (the important stuff in Kubernetes environments!).

By combining AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service) and Otomi, Utrecht was able to set up its Production Ready Kubernetes environment within a few days instead of the many many months it would have taken using traditional methods.

The Results: Technical, Operational and Security

With the implementation of Kubernetes, topped with Otomi, the outcomes for the city included a host of technical, operational and security benefits. From a technical standpoint, the deployment resulted in faster, automated testing, enhanced observability, monitoring and immediate access to root cause analysis (RCA).

Additionally, automatic scaling of the Kubernetes environment was achieved, a process that previously took three to six months before Kubernetes and Otomi. Now, development environments can be deployed within one minute, providing instant self-service for development teams, compared to months in the legacy architecture.

Utrecht explained to us that the benefits of Otomi were also significant from an operational perspective. Applications can now be deployed within one day, compared to the previous process which took months.

Furthermore, the entire journey from application concept to production now averages around four weeks, compared to the prior duration of at least six to nine months.

The platform also achieved stability with 24/7 uptime, automatic restart and recovery, and up to 40% productivity gain for developers through Otomi’s self-service capabilities.

We were able to uplift the security posture as well as the implementation resulted in numerous improvements, including Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP), microsegmentation, live scanning, traceability, cluster and network policy enforcement, and more.

While naturally, I’m biased, the solution worked extremely well. Utrecht’s Senior Manager of Digital Services Lazo Bozarov, shared that the platform has allowed the municipality to accelerate its containerization and cloud journey in which they have modernized their architecture towards microservices and an API-centric infrastructure. Goal achieved.

By integrating Otomi with Kubernetes, containerization is simplified, reducing the need for extensive environment management. This results in organizations accelerating their container platform’s time-to-value and the applications on it. For organizations like Utrecht, implementing Otomi on top of Kubernetes will lead to substantial cost savings, time reduction and risk mitigation.

As someone who has co-engineered this product from the ground up, it’s rewarding to see these real-life adoptions actually making a difference. It’s also exciting to see how Kubernetes can revolutionize IT infrastructure modernization. There’s a bright future ahead for the world of Kubernetes, especially in organizations such as these.

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