Department for Transport kicks off cloud transformation

A major system has been moved to Google Cloud Platform as part of a wider modernisation exercise

The Department for Transport (DfT) has migrated one of its largest platforms to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

The Latest Earnings Networked Nationally Overnight (Lennon) handles ticketing data and financial information from rail franchises. It is the most heavily used system by the DfT’s rail technical and data management teams.

Slow query times meant the department couldn’t properly exploit the data processed by the platform, according to DfT’s head of chief information officer advisory, Luke Radford.

Lennon is “a huge system” and, according to Radford, takes more than 100 terabytes of datacentre space. The project is the first migration within a wider initiative intended to shut down the physical facilities and shift existing systems onto GCP.

Following a discovery phase, the transformation was undertaken by the DfT in partnership with Google and its delivery partner, Manchester-based IT firm Cloud Technology Solutions, with the aim of reducing query times and improving the system’s capabilities.

The migration is ongoing, but has so far reduced query times from several hours down to “less than 20 seconds”. In addition, Radford points out that when the migration is complete, backups and maintenance on GCP should be “frictionless”.

“The current application requires frequent manual intervention from the colleagues using it. Moving it to GCP will free up time and resources that could be better used elsewhere,” he says, adding that the transformation should also increase the application’s security.

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According to Radford, the project has proven the benefits of cloud and the learnings from the transformation so far will enable further efficiency gains as more applications are migrated to the off-premise environment.

“We have already started to reuse this approach for other projects in their early stages,” he said. “It’s exciting to think data processing as powerful as this should be available for even more projects down the line.”

Elsewhere in the DfT’s cloud environment, a system used to report road traffic accidents has been revamped earlier this year, with the enhancement of its mobile capabilities.

The application hosted in the Microsoft Azure public cloud speeds up the time it takes police to make roadside reports, and allow them to do so with a higher degree of accuracy.

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