UK Department for Transport to operate as a ‘cloud-first organisation’ by 2020

Posted: 20 November 2019 |

The migration of DfT’s applications to the cloud, which has been called the ‘DfT Data Centre Transformation’, took place during the last quarter of 2018 and the first phases were completed by mid-2019.

UK Department for Transport to operate as a 'cloud-first organisation' by 2020

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), which oversees 24 separate agencies and public bodies to support the movement of people and goods, is aiming to operate as a cloud-first organisation by June 2020.

The DfT has been working with Google Cloud since 2017 in a bid to optimise its internal service delivery and introduce new digital capabilities for its staff.

Over the course of 12 months, DfT completed the migration of hundreds of virtual machines to the cloud. This allowed DfT to decommission a large chunk of its on-premises infrastructure while improving the reliability, resilience and security of its systems.

Since the migration, DfT is said to have been able to access a broad range of services designed to enhance its capabilities, as well as develop its own software products on top of Google Cloud. These services include enhanced Infrastructure-as-a-Service capabilities, serverless capabilities, and serverless Platform-as-a-Service capabilities for application development and service deployment.

In the months since the migration, the department has seen benefits such as reduced friction in IT maintenance and the ability to make better use of its resources. These were largely anticipated, but an unexpected benefit was ability to capitalise on innovation through the use of open source platforms. This has manifested in the execution of several projects that previously would not have been considered possible, including:

  • A DfT instance of LENNON, a data-intensive (over 100TB) application used by the rail industry for ticket information, was migrated from an internal cluster into BigQuery. Before the migration, running searches on the DfT customised version of the database could take up to five days. Now, queries can be performed in a matter of seconds, enabling the Rail Data team to work more quickly and effectively
  • Journey time statistics, a road transportation analytics system, was re-platformed as a proof of concept to infrastructure as a service through Compute Engine to give the team more flexible and scalable compute capabilities. Through leveraging VMs with greater CPU, memory and disk performance, the time taken to complete analytics jobs performed by the system were reduced significantly, allowing the team to iterate and generate their statistical outputs faster.  

Interim CIO at DfT, Mark Lyons, said: “Our work with Google Cloud is helping us to become a more digital and data-driven organisation. The capabilities the platform offers are helping us to utilise data better to support decision-making, policymaking, reporting and governance, as well as provide new digital services to engage with citizens on transport related initiatives.

“When you have finite resources, having a partner that understands the process of change and can direct your focus to the things that really matter is invaluable. We’ve invested in this as a long-term partnership and are excited for Google Cloud to remain our number one cloud platform provider.”