2 page Case Study - Posted 4/7/2014
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The council information system of Zurich Cantonal Council moves to the Windows Azure cloud
Public administration is expected to handle the tax money entrusted to it in an econo mical manner. Once it became apparent that a new IT platform was needed, the Council Services of the Zurich Cantonal Council started looking for opportunities to reduce
costs. The IT partner Allgeier (Schweiz) AG therefore designed a new webbased council information system that is operated entirely in the Windows Azure cloud. The new information system enables Council Services to manage information efficiently and publish
all political information for users in a fully automatic manner. The new cloud solution, which is based on the latest Microsoft technologies such as .NET 4.0 and Silverlight, improves the flow of information, increases the flexibility and mobility of users
thanks to platform-independent, browser-based operation, and helps to reduce licence and system maintenance costs.
Parliament Services supports Zurich Cantonal Council and its committees with the fulfil ment of their duties. It provides a comprehensive range of services as an administrative department in order to ensure that the Cantonal Council and the committees can
concentrate on their political work. Parliament Services reports directly to the Cantonal Council and in particular its Administration Committee, which consists of the Chairman of the Cantonal Council and the Vice Chairman. Parliament Services has 18 full-
and part-time employees.
The IT solution used by Parliament Services was outdated and no longer capable of meeting increasing requirements in relation to user-friendliness and ease of use. Mobile access to the traditional client-server solution was also only possible to a limited
extent, and the regular system and security updates required caused a great deal of administrative work as well as costs. In addition to this, there was also need for action with regard to the website of the Cantonal Council – communication with the general
public and the media had to be improved and the overall appearance needed modernising. What’s more, the ability to manage content simply and independently was also required.
Upon the recommendation of the IT partner Allgeier, solutions based solely on the Windows Azure cloud were designed and implemented for the information and management platform as well as the website. The core application, which Parliament Services uses to
enter and manage users, groups and the business activities of the Cantonal Council, was developed in the form of a cutting-edge, browser-based rich Internet application with the help of Microsoft .NET 4.0 and Microsoft Silverlight 4. The graphically and functionally
optimised website (www.kantonsrat.zh.ch), which lists relevant information on the organisation and activities of the Cantonal Council and is also used to publish data from the council information system, is now 100% cloud based. The only item that has been
left on a conventional server system is the infor mation and work platform of the cantonal councillors, which is used to store and manage confidential information and documents.
The new cloud-based council information system provides a whole range of benefits. Claudio Stutz, Head of Council and Committee Services, highlights the most important ones: ‘In the past, our employees were restricted to working from workspace PCs. The cloud
solution, in contrast, can be accessed on a wide variety of devices using a browser, no matter where the user is located. With the help of the integrated CMS functions, we can update content directly ourselves and publish it via the web without needing any
external assistance.’ The costs represented an important reason for the change. Claudio Stutz: ‘Thanks to this cloud solution, we are saving taxpayers in Zurich a lot of money when it comes to licence costs and system maintenance. Time-consuming patches and
updates are now a thing of the past, and the capacity of the system can be increased and reduced very simply – which means that no IT resources need to be kept in reserve.’ Claudio Stutz is also full of praise when it comes to the performance, security and
user-friendliness of the new council information system solution in the Azure cloud. ‘The availability is great and, thanks to the fully automatic backups, our data is also perfectly protected’, says the head of the administrative department. As the cloud
solution has the look and feel of the familiar Microsoft desktop software and can also work seamlessly with these products, it was possible to complete the implementation without any problems and with a minimal amount of training.