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Department for Transport

When the UK coalition government made a cabinet decision to reduce its costs across the board it impacted on every department in the public sector. The key factor for many was to be seen to be rationalising their public facing operations and showing it was genuinely possible to make significant cost savings without dilution of service, through resource sharing and the implementation of new technological solutions. The case story reveals how the DfT has benefited from its partnership with Rackspace.

DfT heads for the clouds with hybrid hosting

When the UK coalition government made a cabinet decision to reduce its costs across the board it impacted on every department in the public sector. The key factor for many was to be seen to be rationalising their public facing operations and showing it was genuinely possible to make significant cost savings without dilution of service, through resource sharing and the implementation of new technological solutions.

Critical cost cutting
One such Government Department that has taken the opportunity to move to a more flexible solution for its corporate website and hosting to deliver tangible cost savings, has been the Department for Transport. The Department provides leadership across the transport sector, working with regional, local and private sector partners to deliver many of the services. Its remit covers aviation, rail, roads and shipping.

Open source in the cloud
Sioned James is Head of Digital Communications, "In common with every other Government Department we were tasked with cutting costs and increasing our online efficiency." She revealed, "Following an independent COI (Central Office of Information) review that DfT commissioned, a number of important areas were identified for cost saving, predominantly platform sharing and a single enterprise solution for the Department and its Agency websites." Sioned added, "We took the process a step further and decided to move our entire corporate web estate to open source software and adopt third party hosting incorporating the very latest developments in hybrid cloud technology. Having taken the initial step for the Department and Driving Standards Agency corporate information, we are now working with other Agencies in the next phase. We are obviously very aware of the ongoing single domain project and have kept central Government informed of the work we have been doing to ensure we are in line with the overarching strategy. This work puts us in a better position to respond to the central agenda and has enabled us to save money at the same time. "

Security stability and scaling
Sioned said, "We carried out a competitive procurement exercise using an approved Government framework and we put out a tender document detailing our precise requirements. We had specified Cloud Hosting at the core of the system, as this would give us the potential to scale operations on demand and avoid the need to over provide dedicated server installations to accommodate potential traffic spikes. However, the move to cloud also necessitated a certain percentage of dedicated managed server installation to meet the specific security requirements laid down by the government for its websites. This mixture required a hybrid hosting solution that allowed both cloud and dedicated server based elements to work together seamlessly.

Seamless integration
The tender-winning solution was provided by Rackspace® Hosting in partnership with Centerprise, a National Framework Agreement Accredited Supplier, based on new RackConnect™ technology which allowed seamless integration of cloud and dedicated server products in one easy to manage package. Centerprise worked very closely with Rackspace during the buying solutions tendering process. The combination of Centerprise's low-impact prime contracting model and Rackspace's cost effective and flexible approach to web hosting services proved to be the winner, enabling the DfT to enhance their service offering, decrease real costs, reduce complexity and meet the very specific objectives laid out in the current government ICT strategy whitepaper.

Centerprise has a 25-year track record of providing excellent service and value across the whole of the UK Public sector and has been working closely with leading edge companies like Rackspace Hosting to create highly compelling propositions.

Flexibility and savings
Migrating to a new open source platform has freed the DfT from the annual cost of an enterprise software licence, while the Hybrid Hosting configuration including a cloud-based hosting environment, offers the extreme flexibility and cost efficiency of being able to scale resources up or down in response to peaks and troughs of website usage, thereby saving considerably when compared with a totally dedicated server installation. The security of critical information and databases is maintained through firewalled, dedicated managed servers linked via Rackspace's hybrid hosting RackConnect™ Technology. Sioned added: "We have already moved the Driving Standards Agency onto the same platform and now have the option to do this with other DfT Agency content, including campaign and stand-alone websites, enabling us to make further savings."

Significant ongoing cost reduction
"The project has been very successful", explained Sioned, "We have made savings by moving from a commercial enterprise solution to open source, but the most impressive saving has been through the implementation of the cloud based hosting platform, where we have achieved very significant savings of between 60 and 70% per month when compared to the previous hosting arrangements. The key factor is that we have become more efficient and we now offer a more robust website with the ability to instantly scale up to meet high traffic demands. "

Highly knowledgeable team
Philip Goodyear, DfT's Web hosting and Infrastructure Manager, was equally delighted with the new framework, "We have found that we are far more in control of what is happening to our websites and it is very reassuring to have such a capable support process." Philip revealed, "When we first embarked on the project we found we were faced with a very short lead time to get everything migrated and up and running. Fortunately, the Rackspace team were able to pull out all the stops and ensure we met a very tight launch schedule without mishap."

Cloud flexibility combined with dedicated servers
Sioned James summarised, “We have had to meet and deliver against some very tough financial constraints and we are pleased with the hosting solution where cloud and dedicated server installations are operated together to meet both security and rapid scalability criteria.”

For information about every aspect of transport in the UK it is certainly worth visiting the DfT website www.dft.gov.uk/.

For further information about Centerprise International please visit the website www.centerprise.co.uk or call the company on 01256 378000.

For hybrid hosting solutions that offer the very best of both worlds then a visit to www.rackspace.co.uk or a FREE call to the sales support team on 0800 988 0100 will provide a great deal of help and advice to get you started.