Towards Connected Government Services: A Cloud Software Engineering Framework

Towards Connected Government Services: A Cloud Software Engineering Framework

Muthu Ramachandran, Pethuru Raj Chelliah, P. Beaulah Soundarabai
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4570-6.ch006
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Cloud computing technologies are being used highly successfully in large-scale businesses. Therefore, it is useful for governments to adopt cloud-driven multi-channel, and multiple devices to offer their services such as e-tax, e-vote, e-health, etc. Since these applications require open, flexible, interoperable, collaborative, and integrated architecture, service-oriented architecture approach can be usefully adopted to achieve flexibility and multi-platform and multi-channel integration. However, its adoption needs to be systematic, secure, and privacy-driven. In this context, micro services architecture (MSA), a direct offshoot of SOA, is also a highly attractive mechanism for building and deploying enterprise-scale applications. This chapter proposes a systematic framework for cloud e-government services based on the cloud software engineering approach and suggests a cloud adoption model for e-government, leveraging the benefits of MSA patterns. The proposed model is based on a set of evaluated application characteristics that, in turn, support emerging IT-based technologies.
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Cloud Computing has emerged to address the need for delivering software-as-a-Service (SaaS). The economic benefits of Cloud Computing are enormous e.g. reduced IT costs by moving to the Cloud environment, and reduced costs of managing, securing, and maintaining IT systems. It also provides other technical benefits of scalability, elasticity, business continuity, efficient collaboration, multi-devices. Also, services can easily be rendered via multi-channels over various online applications such as Facebook, AI chatbots, AI agents, etc. In this context, Cloud Computing offers three types of services such as the following:

  • SaaS (Software as a Service) at the highest application level to offer application services

  • PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) at the middle layer which offers platform level services

  • IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) at the lowest layer that provide entire IT services base.

All these services provide a number of major resources viz: storage, compute power, databases, OS, virtualised hardware, management, and networks.

The Cloud technology also supports four types of deployment models, often referred to as: private, public, hybrid, and community clouds. In case of provision of e-government applications, these four models are useful to host services such as e-tax and e-community (for connecting to general public through multi-channels), e-businesses (for connecting businesses both large scale and small scale), e-education (for connecting educational establishments to communicate government plans and assessments directly to people and employers). All this is highly useful however, the Cloud Computing technology also poses considerable risks in terms of security, lack of required awareness amongst people, and energy efficiency. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that, for e-government, the Cloud services take this into account and have mechanisms to resolve these, by using established best practices, techniques, and processes to build and adopt Cloud-based e-government applications.

Electronic Government or E-Gov has emerged to support interaction between the Government and people (including busineses), with the use of emerging technologies such as social media, Cloud Computing, big data analytics to make decision, to learn from existing experiences, and to provide access using multiple smart devices with mobile communication technologies such as 4/5G. Improving public services delivery and tackling natural disasters requires even more efficient use of existing and emerging technologies, and hence the need for improving e-government technologies accordingly.

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) has been successful in providing such a framework for delivering software applications as a service with flexibility, using multi-platforms and through multi-channel integration, that is necessarily required for E-Gov citizen-oriented applications. To this end, this chapter develops a Cloud software engineering framework supporting a systematic approach to developing e-Gov Cloud-based services and a service-oriented reference architecture for E-Gov based on a set of evaluated application characteristics that support emerging technologies. This chapter also proposes a number of service component models that provide the required customisation, reuse, flexibility, and extensibility. The overall service-oriented architecture has been developed and a large-scale sub-system known as e-Tax service has been used as a case study with service design which has been validated against a set of key service quality attributes.


Emergence Of Cloud-Native Computing Era

Without an iota of doubt, the Cloud journey is on the fast track. That is, we are journeying towards Cloud-native computing era (Janakiram, 2018). The IT world is veering towards microservices architecture (MSA), event-driven architecture (EDA), containerization-enablement solutions, Cloud and container orchestration platforms, service meshes, API gateways, and security appliances, etc. The MSA pattern fast-tracks software design, development and deployment. Microservices become the new application building-block and the unit of deployment. For agile and accelerated software engineering, the role and responsibility of MSA pattern is already on the rise. Enterprise-grade applications are being produced and run using a dynamic collection of microservices. Such services are publicly discoverable, network-accessible, horizontally scalable, independently deployable, interoperable, API-based, and composable. They follow single functionality principle.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Machines: In computing, a virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a computer system. Virtual machines are based on computer architectures and provide functionality of a physical computer. Their implementations may involve specialized hardware, software, or a combination of these.

Blockchain: A blockchain is a decentralized, distributed, and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks. This allows the participants to verify and audit transactions independently and relatively inexpensively.

Social Innovation: It is a process of deliberately changing of existing social practices. It encompasses new ways of actions that are introduced in a certain social area. Social innovations include an intent, a plan, and effect or expected impact on the targeted social setting.

Microservices (or Microservices Architecture): Microservices, also known as microservice architecture, is an architectural style that structures an application as a collection of services that are maintainable and testable, loosely coupled, independently deployable, and organized around business capabilities.

Social media: This is an umbrella term for a wide range of Internet based applications that allow users to interact with each other. It refers to web-based sites, applications and communication tools that enable interaction between people by publishing, sharing and consuming information.

BPMN: Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN) is a graphical representation for specifying business processes in a business process model. Originally developed by the Business Process Management Initiative (BPMI), BPMN is being maintained by the Object Management Group (OMG).

ICT: It is an abbreviation for ‘information and communication technologies’ that include any relevant communication tools, instruments, or applications, including hardware and software for computers and networks, satellite systems, radio, television, mobile phones, etc., and diverse services related to them.

Web Service: A web service (WS) is a software application that is used to communicate between two devices on a network. More specifically, a web service is a software application with a standardized way of providing interoperability between disparate applications.

Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA): This is an architectural style for developing and integrating large applications. The basic building block is a service that is independent and self-contained unit. An SOA application system is a collection of such services linked with each other.

Cloud Computing: This an emerging and highly attractive paradigm for business and other large organisation, it is a specialised form of distributed computing that introduces utilization models for remotely provisioning scalable and measured resources. Resources are often provided as services.

Web 2.0: It refers to a second generation of World Wide Web that is focused on the ability of people to create, share, collaborate and communicate information with each online. It refers to the transition from static web pages to a more dynamic Web.

Scalability: This is a one of the often-sought property of software and hardware systems that can improve performance and speed by adding or removing more processors, memory, and other resources. Scalability can be horizontal or vertical .

E-Government: This is the application of information and communication technologies to government functions and procedures to increase efficiency and transparency of its services, and to allow citizen participation in its decision-making processes.

Event-Driven Architecture: Event-driven architecture (EDA) is a software architecture pattern that promotes production, detection, consumption of, and reaction to events. An event can be defined as a significant change in state . EDA can complement service-oriented architecture paradigm.

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