NAKIT, the Czech Republic’s national agency for communication and information technologies, is a strategic partner of the Czech state that designs innovative solutions in the areas of cybersecurity and specific aspects of network, application, and cloud infrastructure. To facilitate access to more than 80 government e-services, it unveiled a new national online citizen’s portal in June 2018—a major milestone in the digitization of public services in the country. Within a year, the agency architected and implemented the system in the cloud, using a range of Microsoft Azure services, including Azure DevOps and Azure Kubernetes Service (AKS).
When the Czech Government decided to launch an online portal to give citizens easy access to public services anytime, be it medical care or driving licenses, the Ministry of the Interior turned to the state enterprise, National Agency for Communication and Information Technologies (NAKIT). “Given the size of the project, the task was daunting,” explains Roman Vrba, Head of eGovernment department, Ministry of the Interior, “but it was made simple and done effectively thanks to the use of Microsoft Azure cloud technology.”
“Azure is a modern, dynamic infrastructure working as code, so we were able to swiftly adapt and scale all services,” says Vladimír Dzurilla, NAKIT’s Director. “The development process of the portal was accelerated; we could quickly create and test a proof of concept environment in Azure, then duplicate it in production really fast.”
High scalability and low development cost
NAKIT had previously adopted an agile development approach to major projects, and is particularly fond of Azure DevOps Services, “We can release and optimize features without any service interruption,” Dzurilla says. “Also, Azure Sentinel and Azure Security Center allow us to configure the entire PO environment in accordance with ISO 27001 information security standard and warn us against any security anomalies. This safety-operational supervision complements the control of individual information systems of the Ministry of the Interior.” adds Jan Vlasak, Solutions Architect, Cloud and security at NAKIT.
The Microsoft cloud brought bills down, according to Vrba. “We would spend more than USD2.6 million on hardware and licenses for on-premises software that needed years to implement for sometimes only 10 percent usage. With Azure, we pay a monthly bill for operational costs only, which is nothing in comparison. Plus, it was crucial to have a scalable environment, as we have 8,000 visitors in 2 minutes, sometimes we run at 50 percent capacity. Now, we pay for services depending on what we need at a particular time.”
Already, some 150,000 monthly visitors are accessing information on the site. Next developments include a mobile app, moving 300,000 users from its former document transfer app to the portal, and introducing new services for foreigners.
The portal’s success has already inspired Prague’s municipality to offer a similar service to residents. Citizens are not only pleased with the quick response; they’re impressed with the user experience and quick response time of this system coming from the public sector, but which is on par with private sector initiatives. “We developed a chatbot to guide our users on the portal and we plan to add to its functionality so it can answer more personalized questions and serve as a kind of call center for public services,” notes Vrba.
"Azure is a modern, dynamic infrastructure working as code, so we were able to swiftly adapt and scale all services."
Vladimír Dzurilla: Director