When Czech government institutions that operate state infrastructure and national data centre decide to migrate to Google Cloud, the usual questions arise - How quickly will the project be completed? Is it secure? And will there be outages? The use of public cloud technologies in state and local government is still relatively new. The State Treasury Shared Services Center (Státní pokladna Centrum sdílených služeb) has become one of the pioneers in the successful modernization of their data services provided to the public and state.
Cloud as the new normal in Public Institutions
The State Treasury Shared Services Center (or hereinafter the SPCSS) provides information technology services and specialises in the operation of the state's critical infrastructure. It operates a national data centre, ensures the operation of state management applications and provides various ICT services that are intended solely for state administration entities with a high emphasis on cyber security. The company was founded by the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic. The SPCSS ensures reliable and secure operation of critical ICT systems of the state with an emphasis on effective optimisation and securing of investments and operating funds.
The biggest challenge of today's time concerning state operations is undoubtedly its digitalization. The SPCSS remains at the forefront in this area, follows trends, tries to stay one step ahead and utilizes all modern approaches that the current market offers. They operate their own data centres, various applications are on-premise and some of which chose cloud solutions, including Google Cloud. Thanks to the cloud solution, a large part of the worries about server maintenance, security or updating applications are completely eliminated.
“Around 2020, discussions began and we made a strategic decision that was related to the preparation of the departmental cloud and in connection with the building of the eGovernment cloud. The need to provide cloud services led us to build our cloud environment and simultaneously verify and cooperate with major players of cloud solutions,” explains Jiří Krula, Technical Director at SPCSS.
In 2021, we successfully won a public tender for the cloud services supply issued by the SPCSS. This began a joint project that addressed the funding and operation of the project in Google Cloud, upgrading their stack and enabling the necessary technical consultations.
"The cloud is no longer only the domain of progressive startups but also the state and public institutions are switching to it, who until recently delayed this step for various reasons" explains Miroslav Vlasák, CEO at Revolgy.
Fast and effective Migration to the Cloud
Our internal teams started the project by moving one of the SPCSS services to the Google Cloud Platform. This project was directly connected to their local data centre via a Highly Available Cloud VPN tunnel. The more traditionally oriented Compute Engine web server instance was protected from the environment using Cloud Load Balancer and Cloud Armor.
We were meticulous to maintain cost efficiency and created a "network node" that is itself connected via VPC Peering. Choosing VPC Peering instead of a shared VPC increases security by allowing you to isolate connected projects from others. Switching the VPN to the network node caused no downtime and ever since that moment the customer has been able to migrate all their other projects extremely quickly. We always try to prepare design templates for the customer that they understand and the use of which will improve operations (e.g. through automatic log collection, monitoring and alerting settings.) Customer satisfaction is always our top priority, so after successful project delivery, we have also migrated the remainder of their projects.
The new SPCSS architecture is maintained in code (IaC - Infrastructure as Code,) specifically in Terraform which speeds up the process of adding new infrastructure parts. It also leverages Google Cloud's Terraform modules which group common functions and remove the hassle of referencing each sub-component of each and every service.
“SPCSS has been using cloud services for quite some time and has been building its capacity. Today, we can leverage GCP and offer it to partners as another possible platform to deliver their projects," adds Jiří Krula, Technical Director at the SPCSS.
Successful implementation of GCP for the Public Industry thanks to Revolgy
In the first phase of the project, we met with the SPCSS team regularly. After the successful implementation of the projects, the customer handles all parts of the day-to-day operations themselves.
"Revolgy is an experienced cloud partner who guided us through the adoption of the new services and helped get everything running as it should. If we need advice, technical consultation or training, we know who to turn to," says Tomáš Šimeček, Head of UNIX/LINUX Technology Management at SPCSS.
"The adoption of cloud services brings new challenges for both parties - suppliers and infrastructure operators. It is necessary to adjust the organisational structure of technical teams to facilitate the adoption of public cloud environments. Furthermore, to learn new approaches, develop methodologies and monitor the financial and cost side of operations very closely," adds Tomáš Šimeček.
We are very happy to see that our customers are increasing their expertise in the public cloud and that the SPCSS team has learned how to work fully in GCP. At SPCSS, Google Cloud is currently handled by a five-member Unix team with one member focusing primarily on GCP and the rest of the team maintaining sufficient awareness.