Supremo Tribunal Federal Logo
Industry: Public Sector
Location: Brazil
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The Supreme Federal Court of Brazil uses SUSE Rancher to streamline key digital justice systems

Highlights

  • 99.9%+ availability for key judicial application.
  • Reduced time and effort in managing containerized applications.
  • Increased ease and speed of scaling up applications.

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Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF) is the Supreme Federal Court and highest judicial body in Brazil. With jurisdiction over the entire Brazilian territory, the primary purpose of STF is to safeguard the Brazilian Constitution. STF rules on direct actions of unconstitutionality, declaratory actions of constitutionality, and allegations of disobedience of fundamental precept from the Constitution itself.
The organization is also the highest court of appeal and has jurisdiction over extradition requests from foreign states.

At-a-Glance

Facing growing demands to keep process management applications running reliably and efficiently for
lawyers, plaintiffs and ministers, the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil (STF) is using SUSE Rancher to transform the management of its Kubernetes clusters. With SUSE Rancher, it is much simpler for STF to keep its Kubernetes clusters updated and patched. Increased availability and automation reduce manual workload, and the IT staff can focus more on value-add services. The SUSE Rancher solution enhances the availability of the mission-critical STF Digital services platform, ultimately helping the court to run legal processes faster and more reliably, supporting its core mission of safeguarding the Brazilian Constitution.

Digital transformation

Demands on STF are constantly growing; in 2019, the Court ruled on more than 115,000 cases, a 21% increase on the previous year. To maintain excellent levels of service, the organization has driven a digital transformation program designed to make it easier for lawyers, judges, state attorneys and bailiffs to present and manage court cases.

STF's applications were previously monolithic and managed on diverse platforms. These applications were running on a number of dedicated virtual machines, creating a landscape that was hard to manage and scale, leading to reduced efficiency in the usage of the computational resources. When key applications suffered from outages, manual intervention from IT staff was required to restore full availability.

To address these challenges, STF started to use a containerized microservices architecture, starting with Docker and adding Kubernetes to automate the deployment, scaling and management of its containerized applications.

This delivered enhancements in the overall performance and availability of the applications, ultimately helping users to process judicial cases faster and more efficiently.

Flávio Henrique Rocha e Silva, co-manager of the Judicial Technology Platform at STF, says: “Microservices and containers brought significant improvements in flexibility and hardware utilization, with a resulting improvement in quality of service for users of judicial applications. However, as our Kubernetes landscape grew both in size and in complexity, the standard management tools were unable to meet our needs. The business imperative for solving the challenge was clear: we needed to
support the continued digital transformation to ensure faster, more efficient and more reliable judicial services in Brazil.”

“SUSE Rancher is an exceptional solution, helping us to maintain high availability and rapid scalability for our most critical applications.”

Trusting SUSE Rancher for critical services

Having formally evaluated several potential solutions, including Tectonic and OpenShift, STF started to use SUSE Rancher to simplify the management of its Kubernetes clusters. Aurélio Ribeiro Costa,
co-manager of the Judicial Technology Platform at STF, comments: “SUSE Rancher offers a much more user-friendly interface than standard Kubernetes. This makes it easy to keep all our clusters up-to-date and patched against the latest security issues. Since the acquisition of Rancher by SUSE, we continue to have local enterprise support here in Brazil, and the solution remains open and not dependent on a single vendor.”

Today, STF uses SUSE Rancher to manage all its Kubernetes clusters, including the cluster that runs its most important application: STF Digital, a unified system for managing cases from initial petition to final judgement. STF Digital is composed of around 40 microservices and runs on a cluster of more than 100 containers. With hundreds of users and procedural deadlines to be met, high availability is essential for STF Digital. For example, if the system were to be unavailable at a critical juncture during court procedures, it could impact the outcome of the case, potentially jeopardizing the delivery of justice.

“Containerization is a key element in ensuring both easy scalability and high availability,” says Rocha. “We target an SLA of at least 99.9% availability, meaning no more than about 8.5 hours downtime per
year. SUSE Rancher helps us achieve this by making it easier to automate system updates and security patching.”

For the magistrates, lawyers, bailiffs, law enforcement officials and other users of STF Digital, the impact of SUSE Rancher is felt in the improved reliability and performance of key services. Users can
manage their caseloads faster and more dependably, helping to ensure speed, efficiency and reliability in the activities of the Supreme Federal Court.

Push-button confidence

With SUSE Rancher, it is much simpler for STF to update the Kubernetes version across all the nodes of each cluster, delivering benefits in security, performance and functionality. Costa says: “At the push of a button on the SUSE Rancher dashboard we can update the Kubernetes version, node by node, across an entire cluster while maintaining the availability of all services.”

Reduced downtime and increased automation in SUSE Rancher help reduce manual workload for IT staff, enabling them to focus on value-add services for users. SUSE Rancher also makes it easier to scale up clusters, as Rocha explains: “With just a few clicks in SUSE Rancher, we can assign more application instances on a cluster. With standard Kubernetes, it would be a less intuitive and more error-prone process. SUSE Rancher gives us more confidence in managing and scaling our Kubernetes clusters.”

As demands on STF continue to grow rapidly, the technical gains from deploying SUSE Rancher are helping the organization manage this increased workload while boosting the speed and efficiency of the judicial process. Users can reliably submit and review documentation through the STF Digital system, helping them to meet deadlines and ensure that cases move forward through the judicial process in a smooth and compliant manner. The increased availability of the judicial systems reduces the risk of important actions being delayed or missed, which will contribute to increased end-to-end speed and quality in case management. By helping to smooth the path of cases through the legal system, the SUSE Rancher solution is supporting STF in its mission to safeguard the Brazilian Constitution.

SUSE Rancher provides the assurance of local enterprise support for the entire stack — the operating system, Docker, Kubernetes, SUSE Rancher. “Thanks to the excellent SUSE Rancher documentation, and with support from the active SUSE Rancher community forums, our internal team always has a head start in resolving issues,” says Rocha, “The enterprise support from SUSE then provides added reassurance that we can always overcome any technical issues.”

Costa concludes: “SUSE Rancher is an exceptional solution, helping us to maintain high availability and rapid scalability for our most critical applications.”