When you have a reputation to uphold as the European leader in eGovernment, the best is not good enough.

This is the position that MITA – the Malta Information Technology Agency, found itself in at the beginning of 2018. It needed to be different.

Hot off the heels of deploying a plethora of services to enable government and citizens and being voted the eGovernment services leader in Europe two years running, MITA were keen to maintain the momentum they had built. Seeking to provide the services needed in a scalable manner while balancing the security & data control requirements of a central government. MITA had the foresight to push to enable government entities to provision their own solutions, and truly take ownership of Malta’s eGovernment strategy.

That’s where the 18 Squared Consortium & Microsoft come in to the picture. ICT Solutions & Space Hellas partnered together to form the 18 squared consortium to provide our wealth of experience to the Maltese government. As a leading partner and trusted advisor to government for ten years, we were able to position and execute a Hybrid cloud solution based on Microsoft’s Azure & Azure-stack.

As a country of 400,000 inhabitants, we Maltese are proud of our ability to punch above our weight class. Being the first government in the region to embrace a hybrid cloud while also being a government with a limitation of some of the smallest available budgets would have been a daunting prospect for many, but for Malta it’s par for the course.

Breaking the chains of traditional IT – moving from lagging behind the flexibility of the cloud, to embracing a model were services are freely available to all. The Azure Hybrid cloud enabled the government to not only empower ministries, businesses & citizens, but also save money while maintaining security and control.

The Microsoft Azure Hybrid Cloud

The 18 Squared team, in partnership with MITA, have implemented the infrastructure and the platforms required to sustain a hybrid cloud solution for government, based on Microsoft’s Azure and Azure Hybrid Cloud technologies, and forming a foundation for the Maltese CONvErGE project. This empowers MITA to function as a cloud broker and provide government entities with all the innovations available in public cloud platforms, through an easy to use self-service portal, benefiting from cutting edge security.

18 Squared are proud to be the partner to position Microsoft as the best solution, achieving maximum marks in both quality and price during evaluation.

An important initiative within the CONvErGE project, enabled by the hybrid cloud, is the Digital Transformation Workflow Automation Solution (carried out by MITA in partnership with ICT Solutions) designed to implement digital and online processes, as well as citizen-facing electronic-forms. Through this project, the Public Service is able to replace outdated systems and digital processes with solutions that will allow true digitalisation of forms and the provision of better services, all built on the Azure & Windows SQL Server Enterprise.

This stack is a fully-fledged self-service platform, built on the core pillars of:

  1. Government to Government
  2. Government to Business
  3. Government to Citizens

The Azure hybrid cloud transitions MITA from acting as an IT provider to government, to a partner, enabler & service provider. Government agencies are now empowered to deploy infrastructure as needed (private/public cloud) to develop and publish applications for both internal use and for the Citizens of Malta.

DevOps – A Unified Approach for Government Innovation

The Hybrid Cloud Project allows MITA to achieve a DevOps environment by focusing its energy away from the traditional IT development and operations towards more modern work practices with increased business agility. Developing applications available both on premise, and on cloud environments, it avoids wasting hours developing for both locations.

The Hybrid Cloud gives important tools for the delivery of the next generation of applications and services where MITA is engineering cloud first enabled solutions which can, almost seamlessly, be deployed on-premise and on the public cloud. MITA is minimising its role in traditional IT (by simplifying it as much as possible) to make way for work of added value.

Microsoft Azure gives us an engineering toolbox so that we can deliver our business outcomes.” – Jonathan Cassar – CTO, MITA

Artificial Intelligence, Block Chain & the Malta Digital Innovation Authority

The hybrid cloud project plays a leading role in enabling the Prime Minister’s direction of making Malta the Blockchain Island – by providing the government, citizens and businesses a platform to launch and develop both blockchain and Artificial Intelligence applications both on premise and within a public cloud. This ability to provide blockchain-as-a-service, enabling the government to quickly deploy solutions and has been recognized as a core tenant of the government’s recently published national AI strategy, as the foundational building block to drive a culture of innovation.

Microsoft Identity Manager at the Heart of Government

In addition to the Hybrid cloud deployment, ICT Solutions are also deploying an ambitious and critical Microsoft Identity Manager project across government. This touches the core of identity and security in the public sector, and the integrations and developments being carried out based on Microsoft Identity Manager, with integrations with K2, allow Government to build workflows for the entire identity lifecycle across all touch points.

Billing and Resource Management

One of the key solution components delivered as part of the project is a fully-fledged billing and reporting platform allowing the Government Ministries to predict, budget & save on their IT spend. This enables Ministries a true pay-per-use model, driving significant savings across the Public Sector Spectrum, in stark contrast to the status quo of opting for physical hardware whenever compute or solution components were required.

Outcomes for the Maltese Government

This project has put MITA in a unique position to offer the Government & Citizens capabilities such as self-service provisioning, scaling and cloud bursting, at attractive pay-per-use cost models. This allows Ministries and other Government entities to benefit from a Just-in-time deployment cycle and faster time to value, while ensuring that all government entities are using the same version, giving customers the flexibility to scale up and down according to actual use and paying only for elements consumed.

It used to take us a number of days or even weeks to provision certain services. However, now with development of Azure Stack and the self-service functionality, we are able to cut down those provisioning times to a day or even less than that. “ Jonathan Cassar – CTO, MITA

Applicable Benefits for Other Use Cases

Building on the power of the Hybrid Cloud, we have launched the Hybrid Cloud Ecosystem Solution in the Microsoft OCP platform as a key solution for industry.

We see great value in:

Compliance in regulated Industries – customers can reap the benefits of full control over data and the Industry’s most mature security dashboards and visibility, combined with the ability to deploy services consistent to those of a major public cloud service provider

Service Providers – Able to offer customers out of the box services, with a robust billing platform, integrated backup and portfolio management, along with the ability to rapidly deploy infrastructure-as-code.