Open Source and the future of Belgian e-government
Smals, with more than 1750 employees, supports and guides the institutions in the social security and healthcare sector with their information management. Smals fulfills a unique role as an ICT integrator between the various public institutions. Their core business exists of delivering application development and infrastructure-as-a-service to all their users.
To offer high-performance IT solutions at minimal cost, Smals aims for flexible services, sustainable expertise, standardisation and economies of scale. “We deliver mission critical services, 24/7, highly available and performant”, explains Luc Billion of Smals.
Open source at Smals
The choice for open source software is more than logic for an organisation like Smals. On one hand, they have to deal with software licensing politics, but they also want to avoid vendor lock-ins. On the other hand innovation is key next to the fact collaborative models are more cost efficient.
When we speak of open source within Smals, keep in mind their critical business is working with the enterprise support.
Value of EDB Postgres & Kangaroot
Smals started with a 100.000 transactions on a daily basis, while is no less than 10 million transactions every day. They were looking for an alternative. From a tradition, they had Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, … databases in house, but they needed to have off signatures because of cost reproduction.
We saw the benefits of choosing open source for database management. EnterpriseDB was chosen because we were looking for a database that was versatile enough and big enough to run what we needed
EDB has become part of Smals’ infrastructure layers. “EnterpriseDB is an adding value, it brings innovation to the company which attracts new colleagues.”
Kangaroot came into the picture by the public tender procedure. “Kangaroot offered us a complete solution with EnterpriseDB and we started working together on this framework in 2013-2014” Smals has already some strong technical skills but needed an enterprise-grade support. “We needed some help, especially in some mission critical applications. The expertise came from Kangaroot to help us out.“
“We currently have 80 databases running on EnterpriseDB Postgres and are planning to have more than 500 databases in the future.” In September 2017, Smals has started with databases-as-a-service.
Smals owns a number of datacenters that operate already in a federal government context. Their goal is to cluster and consolidate environments. “Thanks to the G-Cloud project, which we started in 2016 and is built on open source software, we were able to consolidate the datacenters for the federal government. For example, Brussels before had 37 datacenters and we have consolidated all of those into 4 main datacenters, which was a huge exercise.”
“G-Cloud is not a technology; it is not a cloud solution but a program of synergies.” In 2016, G-Cloud received the award Best Project at the eGov Awards. Thanks to the IaaS & PaaS services of G-Cloud, Belgian governments can focus now maximum on the development of their ICT applications and lower their ICT costs.