Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports launches new portal with Azure

Sean Dudley
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley on 21 May 2015
Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports launches new portal with Azure

The Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports has launched a new portal that aims to improve engagement with the country’s young people using the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

Following the revolution in the country in 2011, a series of new laws and initiatives have been introduced to help improve the well-being of the Egyptian people.

It is hoped that the new portal will help bring young people in the country into the political fold, enable them to have a voice at voting polls, and engage in positive activities.

With 60% of Egypt’s population under the age of 30, the Ministry of Youth and Sports plays a vital role in educating and helping young people learn about the services and activities that are available to them.

The new website portal creates a link between the government and the country’s young people, and acts as a central repository for a range of information. The portal also acts as a centralised hub for job seekers, allowing them to submit CVs online and match them up with potential private sector employees.

Young people can also use the portal to find their nearest youth centre and available services, and includes a Youth Election portal that helps them locate their nearest voting centres during parliamentary elections.

The portal was initially launched and hosted in the Ministry premises, but capacity forced a strategic rethink and the portal was then moved to a web hosting service. However, due to the lack of scaling flexibility and contractual issues, a further alternative was sought, and after speaking to staff at the Egyptian Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, the Microsoft Azure platform was selected.

“Open Source technologies were used, including PHP, MySQL and Linux virtual machines,” said Tarek Emam, IT manager, Ministry of Youth and Sports. “I was surprised to discover that Azure could easily accommodate Linux VMs and open source. I thought we would need IT expertise to build a portal for Azure on open source. But Azure is ready made for open source and we could run the portal on the platform without any tailoring. This saved us a lot of investment.”

The move to Azure was facilitated by a government agreement with Microsoft and was carried out by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

Emam and his team are now benefiting from improved stability, security and platform reliability. 

“I don’t need to check the platform frequently as it works well, so there is no need to hire a dedicated IT operation expert to monitor it,” he said. “Also it has more security features which makes me confident in protecting against platform attacks. Importantly, I can scale for more numbers of hits, more users and more services without any issues and with ease.”

With an anticipated 4,000 hits per day and 16,000 users and 70,000 visits every month, scalability is of vital importance.

“We already have good experience of its flexibility,” Emam said. “The team is using PHP and Ruby on Rails on a high scale and we haven’t seen any issues in building the solution on Azure and adopting high numbers of users. As it is we also face a daily increase in the services and number of hits and the Azure platform is more than capable of absorbing growth. Previously with our other platform we could only provide four, but on Azure we currently have eight electronic services with more to come.”

Since its launch, the portal has already received in excess of 900,000 visits from approximately 180,000 users, 57% of whom are frequent visitors.

“To achieve our targets we need a strong hosting platform, one that is reliable, flexible and scalable and one that can support our open source architecture,” added Emam. “Azure provides all this and more.”

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