‘Open source restores our financial scalability’
Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”
“We have embraced open source, and the way things are going it could take over everything”, the government IT architect said on Monday at a meeting in The Hague organised by open source firms EnterpriseDB and RedHat.
The agency has over 2,000 employees, including 500 IT staffers. The organisation is responsible for salaries for teachers and educational organisation staff members, manages financing of school buildings, provides services for state examinations and handles applications and payments of student grants.
DUO is currently switching many of its core customer-facing ICT services to an open source business platform. The new platform runs RedHat Linux servers and Java application servers, alongside many other tools for system management and software development, including Puppet, GIT and Gerrit. The agency is also using Zabbix for monitoring its network and applications, and combines the Elastisearch search engine with the Kibana data visualization tool.
The overhaul began in 2014. Following successful pilots, DUO this year began large-scale migrations of its business applications to the open source platform. At the same time, the modernisation allowed DUO to automate the procedures involved in developing and deploying business solutions. The result, said Schuilenga, is far fewer errors and a great reduction of the time needed to get new business applications up and running. “This enthuses the organisation, now pushing us to overhaul other legacy applications”, Schuilenga said.
The agency aims to phase out legacy mainframe and database solutions, and plans to switch off the proprietary middleware server sometime next year. Next year, DUO plans replace parts of the proprietary Enterprise Resource Planning solution with open source alternatives and in 2020 wants to turn off its legacy mainframe. “We’re also studying alternatives for relational database systems”, said Schuilenga, “and it won’t be the usual proprietary product with its license complexity.”
DUO uses a lot of open source solutions for its data centre, used by the Ministry of Education and other public administrations. According to Schuilenga, the ministry is now running some 70 per cent of its server based solutions in this data centre, and will soon be hosting all of its server based applocations on DUO’s open source Infrastructure as a service, based on OpenStack. “In 2017, we could even be offering Platform as a service, based on OpenShift”, Schuilenga said.