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HM Revenue & Customs has outlined plans for its delivery of digital services, including its focus on cloud computing and infrastructure automation, on its digital blog.
Over the past two years, the department has increased its cloud setup to support its internal platform-as-a-service (PaaS) infrastructure, upon which it has been building a new tax platform.
To develop the platform, it has used open-source tools such as Puppet, Git and vCloud Tools, alongside infrastructure automation techniques.
“Over the past two years developing the tax platform we've been automating the creation of infrastructure to ensure consistency and quality in our infrastructure by defining it in code and decreasing the amount of time people in our team spend doing repetitive manual tasks like provisioning and configuring servers,” HMRC infrastructure digital service manager Kalbir Sohi wrote in a blog post.
The tax platform, alongside increased cloud adoption, will allow the department to expand on digital services such as the online self-assessment online Beta it ran in the lead up to the self-assessment tax deadline, which allowed users to complete their tax returns using Gov.uk Verify.
The platform will also allow the department to more easily build and deploy web-based applications, and HMRC hopes it will change the way it manages its IT infrastructure for integral systems such as that used for calculating the tax people owe.
To assist this increased automation, the department has developed a new project dubbed Cloud Broker Ecosystem, which will move a majority of the HMRC infrastructure into the cloud.
This will see code stored with “repeatable patterns” for infrastructure which can be used across teams and projects, and provide common tools, creating a PaaS model that will allow services to be built faster and more efficiently.
The department has also vowed to contribute to open-source products both to help the open-source community by providing tools that can be used by similar organisations and to avoid being tied into an ongoing contract with one supplier.
During the Beta stage of the project, the department will decide how it will move some of its core tax systems into the cloud. The shift to cloud began earlier in 2015 following the break-up of the department’s £800m-per-year Aspire outsourcing deal.