Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority moves its mainframe databases to the cloud
The Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) is a government entity that regulates and controls work permits for expatriate employees and those who are self-employed, in addition to issuing licenses for manpower and recruitment agencies.
At the core of the LMRA’s mission is the Expatriates Management System (EMS). The EMS is a mission-critical system enabling the LMRA to manage employers and expatriates related processes and information across Bahrain. It allows the employer or the authorized person for any establishment to manage all of their LMRA related transactions, such as applying for new work permits, renewing work permits, changing an expatriate’s occupation, and paying for required services.
To put things into perspective, the LMRA’s EMS:
- Hosts and manages half of the population of the kingdom—more than 1.4 million expatriates and 13.5 fingerprints
- Integrates with 14 different governmental and private companies and exchanges over 19 million update and synchronization system messages every year
- Processes more than two million basic transactions, which involves more than 48 million internal processes annually
- Receives around 8.7 million visitors each year
In September 2020, the LMRA migrated its EMS to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “Despite all of the challenges we faced—migrating mainframe databases to the cloud, converting mainframe workloads, and transferring live integration to the cloud—we successfully switched to cloud computing. Now, we have what is considered the largest database of expat workers in Gulf countries running in the cloud,” said Ali Al Kooheji, deputy chief executive officer for operations and information.
“By migrating the EMS to AWS, we benefit from increased scalability and agility, which gives us the ability to roll out new services and provide seamless client experiences at all times,” added Al Kooheji. “The migration improved system performance with some heavy processes now being completed 12 times faster with system response time improving by seven times. Last but not least, we expect to see a reduction in operating cost by 50 percent, all while maintaining better operational and system features like scalability, performance, and high availability.”
LMRA uses a variety of services in the AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region from Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), Amazon Elastic File System (Amazon EFS), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), AWS CloudFormation, Amazon CloudWatch, AWS WAF, Elastic Load Balancing, Amazon Route 53, AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS), AWS Lambda, and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).
Bahrain Ministry of Youth and Sport Affairs
The Bahrain Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs has a mission to build good social, physical, and intellectual citizens. They offer a set of programs to teach Bahrain’s youth the skills to enrich the sustainable development and competitive edge of the Kingdom.
Bahrain’s Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs started using AWS in 2018 for its development and testing environment. Today, 90 percent of their workloads are hosted in the AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region. This resulted in a 50 percent reduction in capital expenses (CapEx), a 90 percent improvement in performance compared to on premise, and a 100 percent increase in scalability efficiency and speed of service.
“With the migration to AWS, we were able to significantly reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), freeing up resources to focus on the ministry’s core mission and not in managing servers and buildings,” said Ayman Tawfiq Almoayyad, Minister of Youth and Sport Affairs.
“Migrating our SharePoint servers to AWS has improved our website’s performance by 95 percent and scalability during peak seasonality,” Nani Butti added, Acting Director of Information System. “We also use Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS), which has improved disk utilization and page file memory.”
Kuwait's Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI)
Due to social distancing requirements for COVID-19, Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI) needed to quickly implement a solution to control the flow of consumers into Kuwait’s 400 cooperative society markets and food supply stores.
In response, the organization launched the moci.shop portal. Now, Kuwait’s citizens and residents can book appointments to visit the closest market based on their home address. Then, the portal automatically sends a 2D bar code to the consumer, allowing them entry into any market.
Using AWS, the MOCI team was able to immediately provision an infrastructure. They were able to develop and launch the portal in one week rather than spending months choosing, ordering, commissioning, and installing hardware.
The portal’s cloud architecture uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS), Amazon CloudFront, and AWS Web Application Firewall (WAF).
Over a period of eight weeks after launch, more than 3.5 million people booked appointments, making moci.shop one of the most visited portals in Kuwait.
“This portal helped us keep our stores open and supply Kuwait’s citizens and residents with the necessary food supplies while maintaining the security and health measures implemented in Kuwait in response to the pandemic. With AWS, we were able to scale up very quickly as traffic increased with no impact on the performance of the portal,” said Kuwait’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Information and eGovernment Authority Bahrain
The Information & eGovernment Authority’s mission is to reduce the IT operating expenses of the Kingdom of Bahrain by 80 percent, in line with the country’s sustainability goals. Central to this is a project to close most of the government data centers for 72 governmental entities by 2020 and go all-in on AWS. This will save costs, but will also provide a platform for fast innovation. The authority has also developed a custom marketplace on AWS, so government entities can buy software and streamline procurement.
“We have re-engineered processes in the cloud so we can approve construction projects within five days instead of 18 months,” said Mr. Mohammed Ali Al Qaed, Chief Executive, Information & eGovernment Authority.
National Bureau of Revenue (NBR) - Bahrain
The Kingdom of Bahrain introduced a value-added tax (VAT) on 1 January 2019 in line with Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) goals. To prepare for this, the National Bureau of Revenue (NBR) wanted to deploy an SAP-based system to administer the new tax.
Whatever solution the NBR chose, it needed to be online fast. The VAT project was already behind schedule, and senior stakeholders knew that other GCC countries took nine months to get systems online.
Bahrain has a cloud-first policy, and having seen other successful SAP implementations on AWS in the region, it decided AWS would provide the agility and scalability it needed. The launch of a new AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region in 2019 also influenced the decision.
Using AWS, the NBR team could provision an infrastructure right away and begin development, rather than spending weeks choosing, ordering, and commissioning hardware. The cloud architecture was developed in line with SAP’s best practices and uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and AWS Lambda.
The first wave of the system – which covers 4,453 commercial entities – was completed within two months. The system will scale over the next 12 months to handle 24,327 registered entities and around 127,000 transactions a year.
Currently, the application is the biggest in Bahrain in terms of AWS utilization, but it’s yet to be completed. The team is working with AWS to optimize costs with Amazon EC2 Reserved Instances and streamline processes to make management easier.
“I’m proud of the fact that my team could launch our national VAT system on AWS within two months. It could have taken a longer time on premises compared to other benchmarks,” said Rana Faqihi, Assistant Undersecretary for Development and Revenue Policies at Bahrain Ministry of Finance.
Mumtalakat is the sovereign wealth fund of the Kingdom of Bahrain. The fund invests in and runs more than 60 companies both in Bahrain and abroad, which includes the McLaren Group, Aeroflot, and Virgin Hyperloop One.
In 2018, Mumtalakat took on five new entities in Bahrain and needed to scale up its IT services quickly to support them. It also wanted these companies to serve as technological role models and chose AWS to achieve this. AWS offered the speed to get infrastructure online fast and the breadth of services for future innovation.
By May 2018, Mumtalakat had deployed the first phase on AWS – infrastructure as a service using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). This took less time than any on-premises deployment the company had ever undertaken and lowered operational costs by around 50 percent. These savings came from lower license fees, fewer maintenance contracts, and not having to maintain a separate disaster recovery site.
Mumtalakat is currently transitioning to software as a service on AWS, with around 60 percent of its software running in the cloud.
Moving away from physical, on-premises infrastructure has freed up Mumtalakat’s six IT staff from routine maintenance. Now, they can work on higher-value projects like business process optimization, testing artificial intelligence and machine learning solutions, and developing new business processes using serverless architectures.
Plus, Mumtalakat’s new global, AWS-based infrastructure has made it easier for the company to invest in new companies anywhere in the world as it grows.