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Containerisation in the public sector – a new platform to improve our services

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Digital services

Here at HM Land Registry we’re constantly looking at ways to improve our efficiency across a wide range of areas and how we can harness technology to help.

To us, efficiency isn’t just about improving service speeds and customer interactions. It also includes the underlying infrastructure that makes improvements possible.

As we said in our Business Strategy, we aim to continue to enhance and expand our existing electronic and digital services. One of the key foundations of this is transforming and improving how we use this underlying infrastructure to enable better services and technology for our customers and our people.

Following extensive research, we concluded that moving our services onto a containerisation platform was the way forward.

Sector leading

We are one the first public sector agencies to adopt containerisation technology and migrate all our digital services to use them. With this being the direction the industry is heading for hosting, we believe that many will follow.

But what does this actually mean?

By moving to a new technology platform we’ve been able to reduce the complexity of the technology that sits underneath our digital services. This makes the existing services easier to monitor, maintain and develop – improving stability for our customers and colleagues – and provides a flexible foundation for new services in the future.

We’ve done this by using containerisation technology and container management platforms. The simplest way to describe this new technology is that the platform works like a flat Lego board that you build your applications, or containers, on – each of which can be moved around separately while retaining the same foundation. A container packages up code and all its dependencies, so the application runs quickly and reliably from one environment to another. By using this approach, development and implementation is simpler, so making new applications or services available is less time consuming and easy to distribute.

How did we develop this?

We approached this project using the Government Digital Service design phases. This enabled us to understand truly the needs of our customers and ensure we built a platform which met their needs and future ways of working ambitions, enabling full DevOps and collaboration in an iterative, agile manner across our Digital, Data and Technology Directorate.

The investigation into technologies resulted in us appointing Red Hat OpenShift, the industry’s leading enterprise Kubernetes platform, giving us the technology we wanted with the enterprise backing that would help us host and manage our critical services.

In June 2020 Red Hat performed a health check of our implementation and provided recommendations for next steps. The feedback from Red Hat recognised and validated the work that had been done to develop this platform.

Alf Franklin, Head of Public Sector UK, Red Hat

HM Land Registry’s investment in a more secure, reliable platform to support its services means the headaches of operations are already dealt with, and it can focus on what is most important: delivering services to clients both internal and external. It sets an example of how to achieve greater efficiency for application delivery and deployment.

It is great to see HM Land Registry embracing Red Hat OpenShift to help deliver services to citizens in a faster, more efficient and more secure way, while also demonstrating savings over its use of monolithic virtual infrastructures. The way the Land Registry team is turning to open source software and open ways of working and collaboration to help achieve the agency’s goals is especially exciting and we’d love to see more organisations follow suit.

We have seen significant benefit from this platform development, from a reduction to our virtualised service estate − leading to cost savings and easier ongoing management, ensuring everything is deployed as code, speeding up deployments − to flexibility in spinning up new environments for our service teams and a common way of working so all developers can share improvements.

Ultimately, we’ve made these changes to help ensure that our use of technology continues to support the property market and to make interacting with us quicker, simpler and easier for our customers. If you have any questions, please comment below.

Alternatively, read how we’re approaching the future requirements of land registration.

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1 comment

  1. Comment by Jeffrey Shaw, solicitor, Nether Edge Law posted on

    Nowhere do you explain:
    a. what 'containerisation' actually involves so far as HMLR's operations in practice;
    b. what extra costs will be imposed on users of HMLR's services;
    c. what effect it will have, in the short term, on reducing/eliminating the absurdly long delays in Title Create applications; and
    d. what changes it will make necessary in how long-suffering solicitors submit applications and strive to placate clients by actually concluding these applications more efficiently than at present.