Network Rail looks to cut app count

Network Rail is embarking on a fresh round of application consolidation as it seeks to rationalise the complex infrastructure it inherited from predecessor Railtrack and maintenance contracts it insourced last year.

Network Rail is embarking on a fresh round of application consolidation as it seeks to rationalise the complex infrastructure it inherited from predecessor Railtrack and maintenance contracts it insourced last year.

New director of information management Catherine Doran is identifying a set of projects that will enable Network Rail to collapse large numbers of applications starting from next year.

The track maintenance company, which owns the UK's rail infrastructure, needs to rationalise its 895-strong suite of applications to cut costs and move its systems on to a service oriented architecture.

Doran, who took over from previous director of information management Joe van Valkenburgh in the summer, said, "The piece that we have not done and that we are kicking off now is defining in detail where we want to be in five years. We know where we are headed in our various workstreams, but what we do not have is the big picture for our infrastructure by 2011."

Network Rail IT's original targets for application consolidation were thrown off track last year when the company's management decided to insource maintenance contracts, obliging IT to absorb an extra 350 applications. Doran has already laid plans to cut the number of insourced applications to 140, though she has yet to put a deadline on the project.

The new targets will help to define the information management department's strategy for the next five years. Network Rail has one of the largest IT functions in the UK, with an annual budget of £100m and more than 21,000 users.

Doran said, "We have to be very careful that we do not cause any disruption to the people on the ground as we consolidate applications."

Network Rail is running final tests on two new datawarehouses that will hold information on train movements and asset management.

The first datawarehouse has to record 28,000 train movements a day and it must be up-to-date for its 500 users by 7am each morning. ­Network Rail expects it to store 2Tbytes of data by March next year.

The second datawarehouse stores the information produced by the company's Rail Defect Tracker application - the software used by a fleet of yellow trains to record damage to tracks.

Both datawarehouses run on Oracle 9i databases, but they are being upgraded to Oracle 10g.




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