Malta’s IT agency delivers digital government services with Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack
For a small island, Malta has big technological ambitions. The smallest country in the European Union (EU), the Republic of Malta has ranked number one for government-based IT systems for the last three years. Now, in a bid to provide citizens with even better services, MITA—the digital agency of Malta—has modernized its infrastructure with Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack. The results are greater flexibility, enhanced security, and a future on the forefront of technology.
A small island with big ideas
Nestled between Sicily and the North African coast, the island of Malta has both an ancient history and a modern approach to technology. Despite being the smallest member of the European Union (EU), the European Commission has ranked the Republic of Malta first for digital government services across the EU for the last three years.
In charge of its digital transformation is the government’s IT organization, the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA). Its goal is to use technology to empower citizens and improve their lives with new opportunities for employment, education, and healthcare.
Taking IT to the next level
Malta’s citizens expect the same seamless user experiences in their government interactions as they have in the technology that they use in their everyday lives. But meeting those expectations is far from easy.
For MITA, success depended on a new IT platform—one that would unify systems across agencies and help deliver on the promise of cutting-edge technologies like blockchain, AI, and machine learning.
“We want to be able to implement things like AI-driven sentiment analysis, where we can test policies and their effect on the quality of life of our citizens,” says MITA Chief Technology Officer Jonathan Cassar. “That, and things like chatbots, can really transform the relationship between the government and its citizens.”
Always looking forward
MITA worked with ICT Solutions, Space Hellas, and Microsoft Consulting Services to bring the value of Azure to Maltese citizens.
With bold ambitions and a combination of Microsoft Azure and Azure Stack, the Maltese government began updating its infrastructure and applications, bringing new levels of flexibility to the department’s processes.
This hybrid architecture, combined with a robust billing platform and integrated self-service backup, has been critical in MITA realizing the Government of Malta’s CONvErGE strategy—a €40 million IT overhaul aimed at strengthening public services.
“With Azure and Azure Stack, you have the best of both worlds—the on-premises part and the cloud part,” says Cassar. “This gives us the opportunity to keep certain information on-premises, when regulatory requirements demand it, while still having the flexibility, power, and scale of the public cloud.”
Having both these things often comes with a catch, but that’s not the case with Microsoft, says Cassar.
“A hybrid cloud has a lot of benefits in terms of the business value it can give, but it can also be very complex,” he says. “The tools in Azure Stack minimize that complexity and provide a single management view that helps us improve our overall operations.”
Consistent solutions that empower people
The combination of Azure and Azure Stack is expected to improve life both for MITA employees and the people of Malta. Perhaps most notably, MITA will empower citizens with greater control over their interactions with government services, with the ability to self-provision the systems they need, when and where they need them.
“With Azure, we expect all user experiences on government IT systems to be improved and far more personalized,” says Cassar. “Citizens and businesses will have more agile and efficient services that they can access whenever they want.”
Robert Galea, Head of Infrastructure Services at MITA, elaborates: “The Azure cloud platform and Azure Stack have given us the possibility of citizen self-provision. Before, if people needed something from our platform, they had to come to us. Now, users can do whatever they want without having to rely on our help.”
Perhaps the best example of this is Malta’s new myHealth portal, a solution that allows patients to access their personal data so that they can view information, select doctors, and review test results without any assistance—or waiting.
Securing the future of Malta’s IT
The Azure platform benefits also extend to MITA’s internal teams. With the flexibility of the cloud, adapting to new regulations like taxation laws is now much easier, as is ensuring security and compliance.
“We use Azure Stack and its capabilities to help meet all the requirements for GDPR and more securely automate the storage and management our citizens’ information,” explains Pierre Vella, Head of Program Management at MITA.
“Security is very important to us,” adds Cassar, “and we know Microsoft is committed to security and data privacy.”
With the Microsoft Azure solutions now in place, the future of Malta’s ever-improving digital services looks bright.
“We consider Azure and Azure Stack, together with our relationship with Microsoft, to be our strategic advantage,” says Cassar. “Now, there’s really no limit to the kind of information systems we can deliver to our citizens.”