Several people have asked about our future technology platform and our plans and approach to moving services onto it. So here’s our first update on the subject.
The existing DVLA estate is large and complex, with many of the systems having grown organically over many, many years. These systems have their origins in the paper based world, embodying processes, rules and data constructs which were relevant when records were held on paper and stored in filing cabinets.
These systems are expensive to maintain and required significant amounts of effort to change. It's very clear that these systems will not act as the platform we need as the DVLA offers more and more services as “Digital by Default”.
We'll be moving to a services based architecture, built upon reusable software components, which will allow us to be more agile and more easily adapt to changing user demands. It'll also allow us to adapt and benefit from new technologies and a changing supplier base.
However, given the size of the existing IT estate and the need to continue day to day service there is no way we can move from the old to new technology platforms in a “Big Bang” fashion. We will move services across incrementally over time, “strangling down” the old platforms until we migrate the last elements across.
Effectively we'll re-engineer the business services as we migrate to the new technology platform, but push the data back to the existing IT estate so it continues to be the “system of record”. Then we'll pass a point when the majority of business services are running on the new platform. That'll be the trigger for us to finally move the data across and decommission the old technology.
This approach will allow us to migrate and perform the reengineering that the business services need, while ensuring that risk is kept to a minimum as the old IT estate is kept running until we're satisfied that the new platform operates as required.
The approach is reasonably well known. There’s a good article on it at http://www.martinfowler.com/bliki/StranglerApplication.html.
We'll deliver this in an incremental fashion. As the first services are moved across to the new platform they can be made available. We will avoid massive upfront investment and lengthy lead time before we see results.
It's taken us a lot of coffee and produced more than a few grey hairs to get to this approach! We're now really looking forward to the New Year and seeing it help us quickly bring more services to the digital channel.