Discover how the Justice and Public Safety sector’s integration services team is using OpenShift to modernize how their sector integrates applications.
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The Justice and Public Safety Sector’s Integration Services team is in the process of modernizing the integration of their sector’s applications. Using Red Hat® OpenShift® on the B.C. Government Private Cloud PaaS, they’re on their way to connecting all of their sector’s applications on one platform. This improves how their applications share information with one another, leading to the modernization of the way services get delivered throughout the sector.
The Integration Services team manages the Justice and Public Safety Sector’s application connectivity, allowing independently designed applications to work together. They make sure these applications can effectively share data and communicate with one another to perform tasks and functions. Several business areas rely on application integrations, including B.C. courts, corrections and prosecution services.
Since joining the platform in 2021, the Integrations Services team has set up 3 integrations with OpenShift, which allow 18 different legacy systems to function. Over 1000 users rely on these systems and integrations.
Jennifer Dowd is the senior product owner of Integration Services for the Justice and Public Safety Sector.
“It’s a big portfolio. Pretty much anyone that owns an application that needs to talk to another application in [the justice sector] will need help with their integrations.”
As the product owner, Jennifer works with an 8-person team that includes a technical lead, developers and an architect to maintain almost all of the newly modernized integrations and integration infrastructure for their sector.
While Jennifer doesn’t have a full team hired yet, she works with talented vendor teams and the justice sector’s Information Security Branch (ISB) and Information Management Branch (IMB) to help guide integrations in the sector. The ISB and ISM can provide technical architects, solutions architects, security architects and security analysts to advise on projects and help project teams create consistent integration patterns when connecting legacy software.
Challenges and objectives
The Integration Services team used to run all their integration components on an internally managed system. The system had been adequate, but they wanted a hosting platform that was easier to use and that could keep up with the evolving needs of the sector’s various applications.
“All our applications need maintenance and care. We need something that allows business areas and vendor teams to continually upgrade their applications, so they aren’t legacy anymore.”
Finding a platform that could adapt to the Agile methodology was important for Jennifer, as was the prospect of more self-service tools for teams to use. Jennifer’s goal was to make application integration as intuitive and self-service friendly as possible.
“It’s important that whatever tools I’ve given my vendor teams to work with, they’re self-service. I don’t like depending on other people. I’d rather it be self-contained, so that we can move quickly.”
A new platform needed to allow her and her team to move at a quick and flexible pace and get changes done fast.
“It’s all about Agile and iterative DevOps; getting changes out there so end users can use them sooner rather than later. There’s no point in holding something for six months and it not being what people want.”
The Integration Services team also needed a flexible system that could be customized to address changing needs.
“If the technology that we’re using today turns into something better, we want that plug and play feature where we can pull something out and swap something else in… I think that modern technologies allow us a lot of flexibility to use the pieces that work for us, and get rid of the rest.”
After discussing her needs with an architect consultant on her team, Jennifer learned about the OpenShift platform. She thought it might provide the functionality she was looking for. It was secure, had a quick setup and it promoted continual improvement. It enabled sector teams to work on their own applications, without constantly needing the support of Jennifer and her team.
“What we have right now isn’t like that. [The functionality we have right now] is ingrained in the application and you have to use it the way it’s designed.”
Jennifer was optimistic that OpenShift and B.C. Government Private Cloud PaaS could transform the way her sector integrates their applications.
The first integration her team decided to test on the OpenShift platform was the Supreme Court Scheduling System, an app used by the Supreme Court for scheduling and tracking court case information. Within hours of initiating the process with the Platform Services team, they were set up on the platform and ready to begin developing.
Their initial progress was a success and Jennifer was happy with the functionality of the cloud service.
“We only had minor issues that we were able to resolve, and then [we could] redeploy the app.”
Since that initial project, the Integration Services team has integrated several Supreme, Provincial and Criminal court systems in the cloud, using OpenShift to host the components.
Working with the Platform Services team
As one of the first groups to use the B.C. Government Private Cloud PaaS, the Integration Services team worked closely with the Platform Services team when they started their first project.
“They’re very good collaborators and partners. The guidance that they provide is awesome.”
Jennifer was also impressed with the level of communication provided by the Platform Services team and the developer community. She received frequent updates by email and through community meetings and her team felt comfortable asking for support from the community on the platform’s chat channel.
“People in the community have ideas and don’t hoard expertise. They share freely. It’s kind of nice – actually it’s really nice! The best thing I never hear is no… [The Platform Services team] is always solution focused, and that is super important to someone like me who’s trying to solve problems all day.”
Results and future plans
When asked if there was anything that surprised Jennifer about using the platform, she replied:
“Not really, other than that this job is hard!”.
Hard, because developing good integration patterns and designs take time and hard work, but also because it requires skill sets that are difficult to fill. Currently, Jennifer is in the process of hiring a new internal team to help her with the integration work. She’s looking for developers, integration specialists, integration specific design architects, technical business analysts and a scrum master to keep her team in an Agile workflow.
Although Jennifer still has a long way to go, she’s looking forward to the work ahead.
“Designing integration solutions is a complex and challenging task. But well-designed integrations built in an Agile way will help our organization promote innovation across the sector.”
One year after joining the B.C. Government Private Cloud PaaS, Jennifer and the Integration Services team are evidence of the adaptability and versatility of cloud solutions. By integrating legacy systems using new cloud tools and resources, they’re well on their way to changing how they, and their sector, deliver and interact with digital products.
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