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Kubernetes case study: Corona entry pass (digital corona certificate)

How the Dutch organisation Testenvoortoegang created a solid platform within one and a half month

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Creating a portal for booking COVID-19 test appointments, up to 400.000 appointments per day

Going back to the Dutch lockdown in the spring of 2021, when almost nothing was possible. We had to reopen the country, but how to do that responsible during a pandemic? An idea arose: before entering an event, customers needed to take a COVID-19 test and show a negative result for access. Thus, Testenvoortoegang was born and shortly after, a first version was created. That gave it a flying start. The ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport embraced the initiative with enthusiasm and wanted it to apply nationally. For that reason, they founded the Stichting Open Nederland (Foundation Open Netherlands). Testenvoortoegang immediately needed scale and a solid fundament. True was able to help with both.

A solid portal for planning appointments

Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare (the main organisation responsible for Testenvoortoegang): “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 realised we could expect large amounts of visitors, going up to 400.000 testing appointments per day. At the same time, we also wanted to develop the platform as secure as possible. We had to develop a solid platform within one and a half month. Society craved for it.”

The initial monolith PHP application wasn’t sufficient. A new, solid portal for planning appointments had to be developed. Digital Agency We Are You took care of that. They proposed a microservice architecture and Lead Healthcare searched for a suitable hosting provider, one that would meet the requirements of high traffic and security. Stichting Open Nederland was involved to supervise the requirements of security. They too had a need-to-have and a wish list regarding the hosting. True, as a Dutch managed hosting provider and ISO certified, fitted perfectly and met the requirements.

Choosing Kubernetes

A short timeline, a high pressure. Ties Sturm: “True advised Kubernetes, that fitted well with the plan of We Are You. A specialty itself, but with many advantages. 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 speeded up development even more. Developing, testing and pushing to production were automatised in clear processes. You can’t develop any quicker than this! Once live, you can scale up and down Kubernetes as much as you like. For our challenge, we welcomed this very much.” By automating scaling up, the platform is also ready for the predicted peak traffic of 400.000 testing appointments per day.

By automating scaling up, the platform is also ready for the predicted peak traffic of 400.000 testing appointments per day.

On the Kubernetes platform, an environment of microservices is created where one can organise security even better. Testenvoortoegang uses threat detection engine Falso, repository Harbor and Linkerd, a service mesh that automatically encrypts all communication within the cluster and monitors the network traffic thoroughly. These were all requirements on the list of need-to-have security measurements.

Close collaboration, fast production

After designing architecture, choosing technology and organising security, it now depended on execution. Ties Sturm: “During this phase, we noticed how the experience of both We Are You and True complemented each other and staff mutually. Both are committed, pragmatic, possess a can-do mindset and are not afraid to choose the best way, even if it’s not the easiest way. They immediately found each other, and the collaboration created a positive energy in one dynamic DevOps team. I soon realised Trueligans are skilled professionals we can give a lot of freedom to do the job. Besides that, True also shared its Kubernetes knowledge in an open and gentle way, something not many are capable of. That benefitted the results.”

“The collaboration of True and We Are You created a positive energy in one dynamic DevOps team.” – Ties Sturm, CIO Lead Healthcare

Solid and according to schedule

The results: a scalable platform that could be further developed and automatised when desirable. Exactly according to schedule, on June 1st, the platform was live, ready for peak traffic. Ties Sturm: “The platform was designed and build thoughtfully. The application runs smoothly and flexible, and the performance is outstanding. It works like a charm.”

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