Whether offering standard e-gov and e-services for citizenry, or scaling up to ensure maximum uptime and up-to-date information in crisis or disaster situations, every level of the public sector needs to be trusted by citizens to be dependable sources of information regardless of circumstance. As a result, public sector IT and devops departments have particularly challenging roles in keeping sites available, up-to-date and secure, 24 hours, seven days a week.
Always-on bridge to citizenry
Nowhere is this public trust more essential and explicit than during public emergencies, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. In peak crisis times, when news changes frequently, and visitor traffic floods public websites, the infrastructure has to bear the strain and continue to deliver. It is also a two-way street. The public sector is tasked with disseminating required information and processes, and also with safeguarding citizen data, and in many places, there are regulations and laws in place to govern uptime, accessibility, data handling and more.
These are increasingly common challenges for resource-strapped public sector organizations, which have all been tasked with doing more with less. In the endless resource tug-of-war, i.e. needing to guarantee higher performance, data security, and 100% availability with fewer resources, what technologies will help even out these conflicting demands?
The 24/7 world demands 24/7 service
The term “public sector” is broad and all-encompassing, ranging from provision of education to public utilities and transport, from healthcare to public safety, and the list goes on. Administering these functions - no matter the size or scale - is an essential part of ensuring that the public has access to everything they need - whether those services are visible to them or not. These include both external and internal services. For example, externally, citizens require dynamic information, ranging from their local rubbish collection days to access to unemployment insurance applications through to urgent emergency or crisis updates. Internally, keeping processes and systems operational is essential for guaranteeing that external processes continue to deliver. It’s daunting to think of how much could potentially go wrong if public sector systems, particularly online services, falter.
Maintaining high-performance, highly available service levels within this critical infrastructure, IT departments in the public sector face constant challenges, including:
Providing relevant, timely information to serve the needs of citizens is the first order of business for most public sector organizations. What happens, though if, for technical reasons, citizens cannot access the information they need? When a website and web applications are the primary means of communication, especially in crisis situations, slow, unresponsive or unreliable responses - or downtime - isn’t acceptable.
Beyond serving the needs of public users, the public sector faces enormous challenges on the security front. In many contexts, transport, public utilities, and major public services that form the foundations of how society operates, are in the hands of the public sector. These services are prime targets for hacks, ransomware and DDoS attacks and similar security challenges, especially when already in crisis conditions, for example - now, with focus shifting toward pressing issues like Covid-19.
Data is a valuable commodity, and many public sector entities possess a massive amount of personal data about users, e.g. financial data, health data, etc. Many laws and regulations dictate how data must be collected, stored and handled, and entire teams manage data governance. This doesn’t, however, stop bad actors from attempting to gain access to data.
Red alert - Be ready for anything
Varnish Software offers options for building in system redundancy for external and internal functions, which is key to securing uptime, availability and optimal content delivery even in peak times. It is a flexible, scalable, forward-compatible technology that enables securing and locking down public sector IT infrastructure. To learn more about Varnish as a devops-friendly, “do more with less” tool, get in touch or read the case study.
Find out more about how Switzerland’s Canton de Génève used Varnish Enterprise.