Oportunidades Program Improves Performance with Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform

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October 23, 2013

Mexico’s Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) needed to improve the largely community project-based infrastructure of its Oportunidades program in order to meet its growing demands and user base.

Customer: Mexico’s Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL)

“I recommend using Red Hat solutions, tools, and also services; it represents an advantage for achieving the optimized coordination that the program required.” - Emilio Patricio, National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades

Industry: Government
Geography: LATAM
Country: Mexico

Business Challenge:

Mexico’s Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) needed to improve the largely community project-based infrastructure of its Oportunidades program in order to meet its growing demands and user base.


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The Mexican Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) is a public institution aligned with Mexico’s federal government whose mission is to help citizens improve their living conditions in terms of health, education, and nutrition. In 2000, SEDESOL created the social assistance program Oportunidades based on a previous program called Progresa. Oportunidades’ mission is to coordinate institutions that contribute to the fight against poverty by developing people’s basic skills and increasing access to opportunities for economic and social development.

Business Challenge:

At the end of 2006, Mexico’s federal government implemented a new law driving austerity measures for public expenses. With the slogan, “Do more with less,” the law promotes the efficient and transparent use of public resources. The law governs public resources to programs that focus on or promote economic progress, social security, and education.

One such program was Oportunidades, a social assistance program within the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL) that provides education, health, and nutrition incentives to Mexican families in extreme poverty. The program works in two ways. One is to increase the income of families in extreme poverty by transferring money directly to them, and the other is to provide assistance to individuals by increasing access to education, health, and nutrition benefits.

The program covers the entire country and ensures coordination and interaction between over 37 million Mexican citizens and the three key agencies: SEDESOL, the Secretariat of Public Education (SEP), and the Secretariat of Health (SSA).

To align with the new law, the National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades had to make its operations and resource management more efficient.

Execution of the Oportunidades program required an updated system that would scale to support a growing amount of data as the number of registered participants increased.

“The technology is important because we work with a wide register of 6.5 million active families that receive benefits from the program,” said Emilio Patricio, deputy general director of Information Systems and Technological Development of the National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades.

Each family receives benefits on a monthly payroll, and payments are further broken down into categories like nutrition, education, and energy expenses. Because of the complexity of the system, the large amount of data processed, and the peoples’ reliance on the monthly benefits, automated, reliable, secure, and high-performing solutions were necessary to keep the program going.

Developers with Oportunidades had already begun using community developer tools and software, but as the program and user base grew, the need for enterprise support and consulting services became apparent.

However, all of these improvements had to be achieved within the new budgetary constraints.

“The key is to do more with less, and it was for this reason that open source software implementation became a perfect solution,” said Patricio.

Defining the problem

A new technological solution was required once SEDESOL determined two main problems:

• An expanding user base as more families required assistance and were registered on the payroll
• Increased demand from families for nutritional benefits as a result of the growing user base

Oportunidades needed a high-availability solution with agile data processing that could keep up with a rapidly increasing number of users and data. Additionally, the registration system needed to process applications automatically and without errors to decrease response times to families waiting to hear if they would receive government aid.


Finding a solution

Oportunidades was able to take advantage of some existing hardware and software: Oracle Database, Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization running on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and Solaris operating system, in addition to using JavaSim for development.

An important aspect of the organization is the certification of co-responsibility of the families receiving benefit. Families must commit to certain actions, such as sending children to school and attending healthcare seminars, in order to earn program benefits. The system would receive information from 45,000 entities around the country and consolidate this data for the creation of the monthly payroll.

Oportunidades developed a new registration system with Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (JBoss EAP) and Red Hat JBoss Operations Network. The team had experience with JBoss community projects, and they knew what resources Red Hat had to offer with the enterprise version of this software. Going with JBoss EAP and JBoss Operations Network also allowed them to meet the budgetary restraints imposed by the new austerity law.

The new registration application was deployed as a survey on mobile devices rather than on paper, as had been done in the past. On the new application platform, applicants' answers can be processed and validated in real time, allowing officials to accept or decline applications more quickly. The application can also scale automatically according to the data services needed.

Oportunidades also instituted a government resource planning (GRP) system in order to control operations, reduce data processing time, and achieve high availability.


How Red Hat helped: Enhancing software with services

Realizing that they needed help introducing the new Red Hat solutions, Oportunidades called on Red Hat Consulting to guide them through the process. Red Hat Consulting and Red Hat Training taught Oportunidades developers best practices for both development and implementation.

“The expertise of Red Hat’s consultants has allowed us to achieve an ongoing improvement but, above all, to assemble the first modules of a high-availability scheme—and within the constraints of a limited governmental planning,” said Patricio.

Red Hat services have also given the program the insight to identify areas that need improvement in the near future to ensure increasingly robust, flexible, and functional applications in the long term.

“With the renovation of Oportunidades’ application platform in the medium term, we will be able to adequately tune up the application, and we will do so under the guidance of Red Hat,” said Patricio.


By both implementing Red Hat JBoss Middleware solutions and taking advantage of Red Hat Consulting services, the Oportunidades program was able to reduce its expenses by 40% over what a similar investment in proprietary software would have cost.

“The main benefit for the Mexican federal government is the reduction of development costs without sacrificing the use of best practices, thanks to Red Hat’s consulting services,” said Patricio.

The implementation has been limited, but Oportunidades expects the benefits of future datacenter updates to be even higher. The program has already begun to use Red Hat JBoss BRMS and Red Hat JBoss BPM Suite to improve processes between development, quality assurance, and production. Oportunidades is also planning to complete a second phase of the system using Red Hat JBoss Fuse and Red Hat JBoss Data Grid for more data management and support.

The high availability of the program’s core system, the Co-responsibility Certification Information System, allows staff to better assist their 45,000 users. Even during the 25 most critical days of operation every two-month period when there may be 35,000 simultaneous users, response times have dropped from microseconds to a matter of milliseconds.

“Before the migration to JBoss Enterprise Application Platform, we spoke of having a 95% availability; that figure is now at three nines (99.9%),” said Patricio.

Operational costs have also decreased; since the new mobile application was introduced, the cost of an average three tons of paper during each two-month period has been eliminated. The program has also achieved a cost reduction of approximately $195 million USD (or approximately $2,535 million pesos) on 15 million surveys in three years. Registration time has dropped as well—from two hours to 50 minutes, and applicants receive their eligibility statuses within 60 days rather than 180.

“I recommend using Red Hat solutions, tools, and also services; it represents an advantage for achieving the optimized coordination that the program required,” said Patricio.

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