STRATEGIC pilots – The City of Genoa: deploying an open data application in the Cloud with STRATEGIC

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Genoa is one of the most important cities in Italy, the third largest in the North and the capital of the Liguria region. It is located in the Gulf of Genoa in front of the Ligurian Sea. The Municipality of Genoa is the local Public Administration of the city.
The Municipality of Genoa experience in cloud computing, dates back to some years ago when its own private cloud had been included in the Ligurian Region data center.  Since then Genoa has extended its focus on cloud culture and technologies also by participating in different EU and international projects (for instance ClouT, ICity, Radical, MoveUs etc.) spanning different aspects from IaaS/PaaS/SaaS solutions  to IoT and so on.
The topic of exploiting cloud services is rapidly evolving but many problems still remain unsolved especially for Public Administration needs.
Among the main aspects of interest in using cloud solutions there is the need for scalability, clear costs and ease of deployment for applications, eventually with different cloud providers. A critical aspect has to do with strong security enforcement given the rising risks of hacks, redundancy and minimization of downtime.

Most, if not all of the issues above, are tackled by the STRATEGIC project. In order to deploy new instances of an application, an easy-to-use GUI/control app is provided to the personnel in charge. You can take a glance at the main dashboard for our pilot in the picture below.

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It is possible to deploy any of the many applications provided, among which some are unique to the Public Administration scenarios, on different public and/or private cloud. For the many features provided you can easily find information on other articles of this site.
In our premises we decided to also experiment with a private cloud (our own IaaS) which is interfaced with the above GUI/control app and allows to directly deploy applications on our local VMs.
See below a screenshot of the instances of some applications deployed on our private cloud (which is in this case an OpenStack platform).

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STRATEGIC has some features we consider of interest. First it’s quite easy to deploy fully operational applications easily with different clouds, virtual infrastructures and computational power. The idea that is underlined is to have an ample set of applications particularly devoted to Public Administrations, some of which re-usable in different countries. In fact two of the main applications we experimentally deployed have to do with cross-border business activities and issuing of certificates.
The applications can have different levels of security protection, also including intelligent data protection, that can be decided and modified at run time according to the necessity in terms both of functionalities and/or cost.
The ease of use doesn’t mean one cannot customize with a great level of detail both the deployment and also the many parameters of workloads/cloud profiles etc. at run time. On the contrary it is even possible to make personalized scripts.
In the context of our pilot one of the applications we deployed was a CKAN Open Data portal. See below a screenshot of the home page.

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The deployment of the application is quite straightforward and we already experienced moving the fully deployed application from/to different cloud instances.
The overall end-user experience after deployment of this portal is nearly the same as for the portal we previously had deployed in our local servers. What differs is the time that was required to deploy the application, the possibility to scale and easily move the application along with its data, the different level of security we can impose depending on the needs and so on.
Finally, given that the applications are deployed on VMs on an IaaS, an ssh remote access is always possible in order to eventually make some fine tuning or other operations, as we did for example to make minor adjustments to the application appearance.