Testing for COVID-19 in the Netherlands with Kubernetes
As the Netherlands was emerging from another pandemic lockdown in Spring 2021, people needed a way of proving their COVID-19 test result status to enter events: the idea for Testen voor Toegang (testing for access) was born. The team needed to quickly develop a platform that could handle the expected large numbers of drop-in visitors and up to 400,000 scheduled appointments per day for tests. To be ready for that, Testen voor Toegang needed immense speed, scalability and a solid infrastructure.
With a short timeline, and under high pressure, Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare explained: “True recommended Kubernetes, which is a specialty in itself, but with many advantages. Security is ensured automatically, and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery are applied. You can’t develop any quicker than this! Once live, you can scale up and down as much as you like. For our challenge, we welcomed this very much.”
In just one-and-a-half months, and exactly to the deadline on June 1, 2021, the platform was live and ready for peak traffic. “The platform was designed and built thoughtfully. The application runs smoothly and flexibly, and the performance is outstanding. It works like a charm.” – Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare.
By the numbers
Time to market
Daily test appointments
Enabling safe events
Creating a booking portal for COVID-19 test appointments able to manage up to 400,000 appointments per day
As the Netherlands was emerging from the first pandemic lockdown in Spring 2021, people needed a way of proving their COVID-19 test result status to enter events. The Testing for Entry (Testen voor Toegang) platform helps individuals to book COVID-19 test appointments, so they are able to once again attend cultural, social and sports events.
During April and May 2021, successful pilot testing took place. The ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport enthusiastically embraced Testen voor Toegang and wanted it to apply nationally, so founded Stichting Open Nederland (Foundation Open Netherlands) to scale the platform and expand capacity for testing. As of October 11, 2021, test providers affiliated with the Foundation can indicate where, when and how many people they can test, allowing the market to respond where there is demand for corona testing.
A solid portal for planning appointments
The initial monolith PHP application developed wasn’t sufficient and a new, solid portal for planning appointments had to be created. Digital Agency We Are You proposed a microservice architecture and Lead Healthcare searched for a suitable hosting provider that would meet the requirements of high traffic and security. Meanwhile, Stichting Open Nederland supervised security requirements. True, as a Dutch-managed, ISO certified hosting provider met the requirements and came onboard to help realize the project.
This initiative gave our society perspective. Lead Healthcare was asked to supervise the pilot phase and to develop the platform where multiple suppliers could offer their testing services. We soon realized we could expect large amounts of visitors – up to 400,000 testing appointments per day. At the same time, we also wanted to develop the platform as securely as possible, and we had to do it all within one-and-a-half months.Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare
Under a tight timeline and high pressure, True recommended cloud native tools, including Kubernetes, to develop and manage the platform at scale.
Developers can write code fast without having to worry about security, which is ensured within the Kubernetes platform by True. Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery were applied, which sped up development even more, with developing, testing and deploying to production automated in clear processes. You can’t develop any quicker than this! Once live, you can scale Kubernetes up and down as much as you like. For our challenge, we welcomed this very much.Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare
On the Kubernetes platform, an environment of microservices was created to manage and stay ahead of rapidly changing security requirements. Automatic policies and scans help developers get faster insight on security issues and code more confidently. To achieve this, Testen voor Toegang leverages threat runtime security platform Falco, repository Harbor, and service mesh Linkerd to automatically encrypt all communication within the cluster and monitor network traffic. Additionally, an integrated secrets provider based on Hashicorp Vault injects secrets directly into container runtimes.
To optimally support the rapid implementation of the various microservices, ArgoCD provides application developers with the best possible user experience. And thanks to automating scaling, Testen voor Toegang is always ready for peak traffic of 400,000 testing appointments per day.
In addition, the team leveraged a number of cloud native tools to create the best experience for developers and end users alike, which integrated seamlessly with the underlying Kubernetes platform, including:
- Rancher Kubernetes Engine (RKE)
- Azure DevOps
Solid and according to schedule
In just one-and-a-half months, and exactly to the deadline on June 1, 2021, the platform was live and ready for peak traffic. “The platform was designed and built thoughtfully. The application runs smoothly and flexibly, and the performance is outstanding. It works like a charm,” Sturm said.