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The shortlisting of our common technology platform in this year’s UK IT Industry Awards is an achievement of which we are greatly proud.

We see its placing in the final for Infrastructure Innovation of the Year as recognition we are creating digital products that make a real difference.

The platform will be the launchpad for a whole range of services that will benefit solicitors and conveyancers, home buyers and sellers, businesses, government and the UK economy as a whole.

It enables our in-house Information Systems team to improve our IT infrastructure quickly, easily and reliably as part of a wider strategy to replace our current IT systems over the next five years.

For our customers, government partners and the wider public that will eventually mean easier access to our services and data, including the 24.6 million property titles in the Land Register.

For anyone involved in buying and selling property it will mean a faster, smoother conveyancing system thanks to the new digital land registration services the platform will provide.

It allows us rapidly to develop and offer new services built around user needs and created at a cost we can afford.

Building the platform

The platform has been designed and created using leading-edge technology based on a hybrid of internal modular hyper-converged systems and cloud-based technology.

One of our main goals was to change the way we provisioned infrastructure. We wanted to move away from a manual process of creating and configuring virtual machines and deploying applications. Instead we saw the benefit of more automated provisioning which would decrease the level of human or manual intervention and help make changes rapidly, easily and reliably.

In order to do this we treated our infrastructure as software, building, managing and provisioning all our infrastructure as code using Open Source toolsets.

To ensure the benefits of infrastructure as code were realised we ensured our engineers adopted agile development processes and created a pipeline which allowed for all infrastructure changes to be built, deployed and tested in all environments through to production.

By creating our infrastructure in this way it made it possible for us to spin up virtual server space in seconds and complete working application environments within minutes. Not only did this significantly increase the speed at which infrastructure was provisioned, it also made the environments more reliable and repeatable.

Creation of this platform has allowed our engineers to move into new technology and expand their own knowledge and expertise in this area. Our infrastructure is now more capable of responding to the demands of agile development and allows our staff to innovate in news ways of working, allowing ideas and improvements to materialise.

Faster delivery

The speed of delivery of applications has increased over the past year and now multiple applications are deployed on a daily basis via fully automated application and infrastructure test suites, leading to more and improved real-time developer and citizen feedback.

Through the Government Digital Service development stages infrastructure can be spun and destroyed depending on need. All lower environments are fully automated and hosted in the public cloud area of the platform.

This enables us to manage demand and capacity quickly in these lower environments and provides greater flexibility for our developers to work off our network but still connect to their environments.

By using this platform the developers have been able to deliver quickly more than 67 micro-digital service applications on more than 150 managed servers built and maintained using infrastructure as code. So far 9,819 servers have been provisioned and destroyed to carry out automated infrastructure testing which would not have been possible on traditional platforms.

This has in turn enabled developers to get their applications and services in front of users more quickly to enable user needs to be established and factored into product development, ensuring our new services are based on user needs.

Photo: © Konstantin Yolshin/Shutterstock.com


Steve Phillips
By Steve Phillips,
IT Director at HM Land Registry