Customs pushes more workloads into Datacom's government cloud service

Customs pushes more workloads into Datacom's government cloud service

Datacom will also run Oranga Tamariki - the Ministry for Children's case management system

Customs' legacy CusMod system has been replatformed into Datacom's government cloud service.

Customs' legacy CusMod system has been replatformed into Datacom's government cloud service.

Credit: New Zealand Customs

The New Zealand Customs Service is progressively shifting more workloads into the cloud, especially into Datacom's Cloud Services for Government (DCSG).

In 2019, Customs completed re-platforming of its core CusMod system onto the the DCSG Red Hat OpenShift container platform on PaaS.

Customs has been working with Red Hat partner Section6 on some of its system redevelopment locally, picking up an award from the vendor for work to rebuild the systems behind the agency's eGate passport checking system.

In 2020, further Customs applications have been deployed onto the PaaS including the agency's risk and intelligence system, which provides sophisticated risk assessment rules and workflow for border transactions.

"We are also deploying two new services on Microsoft Azure: an Object Store utility available for use by other Customs applications, and an application monitoring and alerting service utilising Elasticsearch," the agency said in a tender for DevOps support resources.

"In the future, we expect to expand our usage of Microsoft Azure both directly as a cloud platform and through the utilisation of software as a service (SaaS) products."

Customs is seeking DevOps resources to help support its project and operational requirements, initially working with the risk and intelligence project and afterwards as part of the wider IS group.

The agency explained it has a strategic objective to modernise the compute platforms that host its key business applications. 

"Under this strategy, we will migrate to resilient, cost-effective compute environments that enable us to transform our software development and management practices to embrace automation, scalability and agility," Customs said in the tender.

Where practical, Customs would employ cloud platforms that have New Zealand government accreditation. Where this was not practical, it would use private and hybrid cloud environments based on infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) technologies.

Customs said it had established a "corporate tower" with an engineering product team to take responsibility for the Cloud Ops and DevOps functions required to manage its multiple Cloud and PaaS deployments, and to be the centre of excellence for championing DevOps principles such as deployment pipelines, dashboarding, certificate management, and so on..

Three other "towers" are also being serviced by the agency's 78-strong IS Group: an architecture tower; a border tower; and a business tower.

"We generally follow Agile Scrum methodology on an "as-much-as-is-useful" basis, and teams routinely use Kanban boards to manage backlogs," the tender explained.

"The highly integrated nature of our applications makes management of non-production environments challenging, so we focus on constant, detailed planning and scheduling of testing and releases."

Datacom has also secured a deal to operate Oranga Tamariki - the Ministry for Children's case management system.

The business case for replacement of the system, dubbed CYRAS, will be delivered by Ernst & Young during the 19/20 and 20/21 years at a cost that was likely to exceed $1 million, the agency informed Parliament as part of the Budget process.

"The exact amount of this consulting work procured under an All of Government panel is not yet known as it is being conducted on a time and materials basis, month by month," the agency said.

CYRAS will be operated by Datacom from late June 2020 at also a cost of more than $1 million, however, the exact amount of the contract was "commercially sensitive".

Datacom also picked up a new $4.9 million gig to implementation a Māori Land Court technology solution, according to the Budget vote for Courts.

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