HM Land Registry, which is responsible for registering the ownership of property throughout the UK, is using SPARC T4-4 servers running Oracle's Solaris operating system to improve the availability and performance of its commercial services.
The Land Registry, created in 1862, provides a range of services that support the conveyancing process through its Business e-services platform. Customers use Business e-services to request information from the Land Register, lodge applications and discharge mortgages online.
The organisation also makes a range of core reference data sets available via its Linked Data platform, which enables information to be connected and shared more easily.
In 2011, the Land Registry found itself in a situation where its Sun V890 enterprise servers had not been refreshed in six years, and its Hitachi Data Systems SAN was old, difficult to manage and very expensive.
The direct replacement for Sun's V890 servers at the time was Oracle's SPARC M5000. However, due to the collapse of the housing market a few years earlier, the Land Registry's infrastructure budget had been reduced by 50 percent, and it didn't have the budget to afford M5000s.
"Because the Land Registry is self-funding, raising all its money through the services it offers the conveyancing community, when the housing market was booming we had been able to invest quite heavily in IT and infrastructure," said Steve Taylor, Oracle and Unix systems manager at HM Land Registry.
"The collapse of the housing market meant that in 2008/2009, the Land Registry actually made a loss for the first time in its history. The reality was that all budgets were slashed and some were scrapped altogether. So there was a lot of scrutiny around value for money and we had to be able to demonstrate it on every purchase."
The organisation looked at renewing its existing support contracts for another year, but Taylor said the prices it was quoted from both Oracle and independent support were "ridiculous".
It was therefore faced with four options - continue to run on its existing kit unsupported, join a shared service infrastructure with the Ministry of Justice, move to x86 and Linux, or move onto Oracle's T4-series servers, which had just been released at the time.
"We were very interested in the T4 series, not least because it came with no-cost virtualisation options - that was one of our targets that we had to do, we had to get rid of tin basically - and they were significantly cheaper than the M-series that we had already ruled out purely on cost," said Taylor.
The Land Registry ended up opting for the T4-4 servers, partly because all of the experience in the team had been gained on SPARC processors and Solaris, so this played to its strengths. Taylor was also pleased to have an opportunity to run Oracle on Oracle.
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