Datacom’s Govt.Container service improves New Zealand’s border security

As gatekeepers to the country, New Zealand Customs Service helps New Zealanders import and export efficiently whilst protecting the borders from risks. When it wanted to modernise its border management system, Datacom had the key.



New Zealand Customs Service manages over 10 million import transactions and 14 million international passengers every year.

From helping customers to safely import and export, to checking containers, vessels and mail for illegal weapons, drugs and revenue fraud, the ability to adapt to an ever-changing situation remains the biggest challenge.


The challenge

Operating in an environment of increasing trade and travel volumes, diverse risks and service expectations, New Zealand Customs recognised it needed to continually improve and modernise the way it did business at the border.

Always wanting to create an easier, more cost-effective and efficient experience for travellers and traders who wish to import and export, while targeting those who do not, the government agency wanted to improve the resilience and reliability of its current border management system. This in turn would help increase workforce mobility and support partner agencies.


The solution

New Zealand Customs needed a solution to modernise its current border management system to make it more open, integrated and quicker. It needed to be flexible enough to scale up on-demand, and support more, frequent updates (releases) at a faster rate.

The solution that New Zealand Customs adopted is Datacom’s Govt.Container, which is a fully managed service. Govt.Container enables New Zealand Government agencies, such as Customs, to run software safely, securely and reliably when moved from one computing environment to another; in this instance when undertaking a process over time to transform existing heritage (legacy) systems into modern cloud applications.

Powered by Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform (OCP), Govt.Container allows developers to quickly build, grow and enhance apps, without needing to micro-manage them, in a safe and secure cloud environment.  Datacom’s Govt.Container service is built around a core of application containers powered by Docker, with orchestration and management provided by Kubernetes (a container orchestration system for Docker), and on a foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In this example, Cusmod, New Zealand Customs’ current border management system, has been deployed on Datacom’s Govt.Container service so that New Zealand Customs can realise a range of compelling benefits, as described below.

Key to the solution was the design and implementation of DevOps pipelines to automate the build, testing and deployment of New Zealand Customs’ applications. These pipelines supported new DevOps/Agile practices and processes put in place to streamline the Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC) at New Zealand Customs and ultimately to speed up application delivery.

With the ability to scale up on-demand, New Zealand Customs is now able to evolve and manage powerful apps, with Datacom taking care of the underlying container platform infrastructure.


The Datacom difference

Datacom’s DevOps team, who specialise in software development and IT, provided expert knowledge and experience throughout the project. From leading the technical proof through to the design and implementation of the DevOps pipelines, Datacom gave guidance on the setup of new DevOps/Agile delivery practices and processes necessary to effectively utilise the new pipelines.

The open book approach to the design, build and implementation of the Govt.Container platform, including discussing key technical elements at every step, helped government agency staff understand the service and how it could meet their needs.


“We want New Zealanders to feel protected, for exports to flow freely into overseas markets and to efficiently process imports arriving into our country. Datacom has helped us to do this better than ever”.

Mathew Black, CIO of New Zealand Customs Service.


The results

Since using Datacom’s Govt.Container service, New Zealand Customs can now easily scale up on-demand. Computing capacity can be added within hours and self-service capabilities have cut provisioning times from weeks to hours.

The business expects to make up to 200 application releases per year, a remarkable increase from previously only being able to do four releases annually, and customer demands are being met more quickly, allowing IT staff to work on new, valuable projects.

Overall the increased agility now allows developers, and operational support and business teams at New Zealand Customs to develop the border system programme and meet the needs of the wider border sector far more efficiently than ever before.


 “New Zealand Customs’ role is to protect and promote New Zealand across borders while helping our economy grow. We want New Zealanders to feel protected, for exports to flow freely into overseas markets and to efficiently process imports arriving into our country. Datacom has helped us to do this better than ever”, Mathew Black, CIO, New Zealand Customs Service said.

“With the introduction of Datacom’s Govt.Container service, Customs is now able to service the needs of the wider border sector far more efficiently”, Murray Young, Acting Deputy Comptroller - Operations, New Zealand Customs Service said.