Faced with dramatic budget cuts and a complex legacy app landscape, MIUR needed to radically overhaul and modernise its existing system.
MIUR is a large government body responsible for information, HR and budgets for the Italian education system. It manages nearly three quarters of a million teachers, a quarter of a million administration staff, 40,000 schools and a yearly budget of €47.3 billion. But, like many government departments globally, MIUR has faced drastic reductions in its budget over the last few years.
“80 percent of our budget was being spent
on maintenance and only 20 percent on
evolving the systems and making them better”
“80 percent of our budget was being spent on maintenance and only 20 percent on evolving the systems and making them better. In addition, we were facing dramatic budget cuts that would serve to put more pressure on delivering the applications we needed.” – Paolo de Santis Director of Applications and Security at MIUR
A Complicated Legacy
As is often the case in big organisations, MIUR’s existing IT infrastructure was a sprawling mess of legacy applications; confusing, costly and difficult to manage.
Not only that, but the people with the skills to manage and maintain many older applications, written in unfashionable programming languages, are becoming increasingly hard to find and difficult to recruit. Take the apps for HR and administrative processes as an example: they were built in the early 1990s in CICS/COBOL/DB2.
Another major barrier caused by the legacy system was the difficulty of interoperating with the systems of other departments within the Italian government. This made it hard to work with other admini-strations, as many applications in the existing system were custom written.
Legacy systems were getting in the way of policies too. They made it difficult to go ahead with plans to devolve more responsibility for the management of education to Italy’s regional administrations.
Modernising these systems was a challenging task. In total, 19,000 different programs needed to be overhauled, consisting of more than 20 million lines of code. On top of that, the online system was made up of 7,750 programs, written in three different mainframe languages.
The online system was made up of 7,750
programs, written in three different
HP Enterprise Services was brought in to modernise the legacy software architecture, upgrade apps to match industry standards, increase automation for regular tasks and ensure interoperability with other Italian government administrations.
To start with, a full assessment of the existing applications was performed and a roadmap for modernisation was put together, along with an overall strategy for transformation.
Based on this, a solution for MIUR was devised, based on Linux and Oracle technologies, along with Application Modernisation Services from HP. Mainframe architecture was also removed from its data centre.
With many of the existing applications custom written in COBOL, there was a need to standardise them, so as to allow easier maintenance and management and allow them to interact with more modern systems. This involved a range of solutions, from replacing applications with modern equivalents to entire rewrites of existing software.
Modernising an entire government department’s applications and architecture is no small task. Out of the 19,000 applications, 7,900 were scrapped because they were obsolete or they were replaced with equivalent Oracle programs. The other 11,100 were migrated and transformed into an up-to-date form, to enable them to be better managed or interoperate with more modern systems.
Finally, 7,550 online programs, supporting 2,230 screens in three different mainframe languages, needed to be altered: 67% were translated to Java, while 33% needed to be entirely rewritten in the language.
“HP has helped transform the Ministry’s application portfolio entirely. Where we once had an incredibly complex, inflexible collection of thousands of legacy applications that cost a fortune to maintain and support, we now have a simple, streamlined and modernised set of applications that has reduced costs significantly while boosting productivity.” – Paolo de Santis
The Advantages Of Simplicity
The project was a resounding success. MIUR achieved return on investment in just 18 months. In the first two years, the department saved €15 million – €6.8 million in the first year and €8.2 million in the second year. These cost reductions helped to protect jobs at MIUR.
MIUR achieved return on
investment in just 18 months
These savings came about as a result of extensive changes to the existing system, including a 33% reduction in the application portfolio, which made management far simpler. The outcome was more than worth it: a 38% reduction in development costs, compared to the old environment. Not only that, but savings from licencing alone came to €12 million.
The project was also delivered on time and to budget and 90% of the final functionality was delivered to users within 24 months. This was especially good news, given the amount of change management needed to help bring the organisation on to the new systems. Users responded well to the change: productivity for daily operations was estimated to have doubled as a result.
MIUR saved a lot of money, but it also gave the ministry the tools it needed to deploy better services for end-users. Teachers, parents and pupils can now access portals that enable them to engage even more with the learning experience, in ways that are open and accessible, as well as interactive.
MIUR saved a lot of money,
but it also gave the ministry
the tools it needed to deploy
better services for end users
“Reducing costs was the single most important driver behind this project. In this respect, HP did not disappoint. The first year saw the Ministry realise savings of €6.8m and we are on course to make further savings of €8.2m in year two.
“By our calculations, the return on investment was met within 18 months, which is a stunning achievement.” – Paolo de Santis