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The hybrid multi-cloud Kubernetes platform makes it possible to integrate applications into the City of Zurich’s local on-premises data centers and operate them in a secure and flexible manner on demand. On the basis of Google Anthos, the partners were able to create a modern platform to meet the long-term requirements for operating internal and external applications.

Starting position
The Organization and Information Technology department (OIZ) is the City of Zurich’s IT competence center. Employing around 600 employees, it keeps the city’s IT infrastructure running and is responsible for over 2,500 applications. For example, “Mein Konto” enables the city’s 400,000-plus inhabitants to access countless online services using a single account. With a view to further modernizing the online services and making them more user-friendly, the OIZ and ti&m worked together to create a new, hybrid multi-cloud Kubernetes platform based on Google Anthos.

Google Anthos

Anthos is a modern application management platform offering a consistent development and operation process for cloud and local environments – regardless of which cloud providers are used. Thanks to its flexibility, Anthos allows you to run workloads wherever it makes most sense to do so. As a result, on-premises applications likewise benefit from the new platform without having to be migrated to the cloud. A further advantage – especially with the kind of multi-cloud strategy that is being pursued by the OIZ – is the ease with which containers can be moved between different clouds. This means that the benefits of the individual cloud providers can be harnessed without having to use their respective proprietary implementations of Kubernetes.

The new container management platform

The new platform is made up of two parts: the delivery platform (which is implemented locally only) and the runtime platform (which can be extended to different cloud providers). Old software versions and applications can be executed and scaled in the OIZ’s data centers. In parallel with this, self-service functions make it easier to manage the integration of new apps. The result: Life is now much more straightforward for the internal teams – as is collaboration with external software providers.

“Together with ti&m, we have implemented a very lean, flexible, and high-performing solution.”

– Reto Hirt, OIZ

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Better tapping of the external and internal potential for innovation

External software developers and providers can develop applications in their own environment and, thanks to simple and secure access to the delivery platform, can migrate these as containers without having to rewrite them. Ultimately, easier integration of external developments means that the residents of the City of Zurich get to benefit from new offerings and apps. Internal employees can use the self-service functions to access app development and software delivery tools for the purpose of providing code as part of a CI/CD pipeline. GitLab provides modern tools that even programmers with limited experience of Kubernetes can use to develop applications, as the predefined pipelines and deployment tools automate much of the process. Take, for example, the solution that one employee developed as part of their master’s thesis in order to digitalize a paper-based financial audit process.

Standardized API management

As the IT application landscape grows, we are seeing a constant increase in the relevance of APIs. Although the OIZ has been using APIs for more than 20 years, it was only with the advent of Apigee, the new API management tool, that it became possible to create a consistent, standardized framework for managing these. Employees can now clearly see which APIs are available in which form, whereas previously concerns relating to a particular service had to be resolved together with the respective API developer. What’s more, APIs can also be made available to external parties via Apigee, thereby opening up new business models.

“The new container management platform makes it easier for the OIZ to work with the city’s application landscape and allows us to put new applications into operation automatically as a self-service – regardless of whether they originate from internal teams or external suppliers. Using Kubernetes as the base opens up a vast array of different software and technologies. The solution is a valuable tool for further accelerating digitalization in the City of Zurich.”

– Andreas Németh, OIZ

ti&m as the OIZ’s technology partner

As joint project lead alongside the OIZ, ti&m was not only responsible for consulting, engineering, and hosting but also for security. As the third-level support specialist, it is also the point of contact for all concerns relating to the new container management platform. Implemented in a little over two years using the proven SCRUM methodology, ti&m drew up the rough and detailed concepts; created, validated, improved, and deployed several proofs of concept; incorporated the lab and live environments into the OIZ’s hosting infrastructure; and introduced a container registry and an automated CI/CD environment. Once the solution had been integrated into the OIZ’s peripheral systems, ti&m took over operation. Other features such as business automation, serverless, etc., will be added in the course of the project.

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Karsten Burger

Karsten Burger

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