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Government aid program improves social service within budget

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. With governmental austerity measures limiting their budget, SEDESOL implemented Red Hat® JBoss® Enterprise Application Platform, along with Red Hat Consulting and Training services, to boost system availability, decrease costs, increase scalability, and implement best development practices.

Customer Since


Mexico City, Mexico

Government industry


Increase efficiency in operations of a government social assistance program serving 37 million people in Mexico.


  • Cisco Unified Computing System

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

Emilio Patricio Gómez, deputy general director of Information Systems and Technological Development of the National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades, Mexico

Oportunidades program gets mandate to increase efficiency

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 the National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades, a social assistance program within the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL). Oportunidades provides education, health, and nutrition incentives to Mexican families in extreme poverty.

Program serves 37 million

The program covers the entire country, coordinating interaction between 37 million Mexican citizens and three key agencies: SEDESOL, the Secretariat of Public Education, and the Secretariat of Health.

Each family receives benefits on a monthly payroll, and payments are further broken down into categories like nutrition, education, and energy expenses. That creates a complex system and large amounts of data to be processed, with many people relying on that for monthly benefits. Oportunidades needed automated, reliable, secure, and high-performing solutions to keep the program going.

Operations must support growth

To align with a new law, Oportunidades had to make its operations and resource management more efficient. The 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 Gómez, deputy general director of Information Systems and Technological Development of the National Coordination of the Human Development Program Oportunidades.

Benefit help expands

SEDESOL determined two main problems:

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

Enterprise support needed

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.

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.

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

Oportunidades improves IT performance while using existing hardware

Oportunidades was able implement Red Hat solutions while taking advantage of existing hardware and software including Red Hat Enterprise Linux®, Oracle Database, and a Solaris operating system.

Oportunidades developed the main system with Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform (EAP). 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 also allowed them to meet the budgetary restraints imposed by the new austerity law.

Keeping families responsible

One important job of the organization is to certify the co-responsibility of the families receiving benefits. Families must commit to certain actions, such as sending children to school and attending healthcare seminars, in order to earn program benefits. The system receives information from 45,000 entities around the country and consolidates this data for the creation of the monthly payroll.

"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 Gómez.

Program taps Red Hat support

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.

Program provides better service, reduces expenses by 40%

Expenses reduced 40 percent

By both implementing Red Hat JBoss Enterprise Application Platform 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 Gómez.

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

Faster response time

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 Gómez.

Operations improve

Operational costs have also decreased; since the new application was introduced, the cost of an average three tons of paper during each two-month period has been eliminated.

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

Future holds more Red Hat benefits

The implementation has been limited, but Oportunidades expects the benefits of future datacenter updates to be even higher. 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 Gómez.