The Department for Transport (DfT) is a government body that, in collaboration with its agencies and partners, supports the UK’s transport network to help people and goods move around the country.
Its responsibilities range from providing assistance, guidance and funding at a local level to run and maintain road networks, to defining the strategic direction of larger nationwide projects. Its digital department is in charge of supporting the department’s modernisation goals by delivering technology across their operations.
DfT’s ability to action queries on the vast volume of data they hold is crucial to informing the way transport services across the country are run. For rail, which provides some of the UK’s most important transport infrastructure, these queries are run by DfT’s rail technical and data management team. They use the Latest Earnings Networked Nationally Overnight (LENNON) application.
LENNON is a 100 terabyte application which tracks data from ticket sales to franchise earnings across the UK’s rail network. The in-house application previously relied on legacy on-premise data centres to retrieve this information.
However, DfT recognised that the infrastructure had several downsides. Firstly, manual maintenance was regularly needed simply to keep the system running. In addition, the infrastructure was not easily scalable and executing multiple data queries could take long periods of time.
To remedy this, the DfT worked with CTS to build a data lake and migrate LENNON to Google Cloud Platform (GCP).
On GCP, DfT gained a raft of new improvements to the LENNON application. It is now possible to run multiple data queries simultaneously on the system, with queries returning visualised results 20 times faster than before. Many queries now take as little as 20 seconds, whereas before they took several hours. This leads to better, more timely data insight that can be used to inform decisions made about the UK’s rail network.
Reduced query times has also freed up resources for the department, helping to increase capacity and productivity. Using Google’s data centres has also eliminated the need for manual maintenance that was required for the on-premise infrastructure – unlocking more invaluable time for the team. And Google’s data centre maintenance also ensures that the hosting platform for LENNON benefits from the industry’s best security.
Having successfully migrated LENNON to GCP, DfT is now looking to use the project as a blueprint from which to migrate other applications from within the department.