DWP awards £11.4m software contract as part of legacy-migration scheme

Written by Sam Trendall on 15 August 2017 in News
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Department invests in software supporting efforts to move away from VME platform

In 2014 the Department for Work and Pensions laid out plans for its VME-R legacy migration programme  Credit: PA

As part of its ongoing migration away from legacy Virtual Machine Environment (VME) technology, the Department for Work and Pensions has invested £11.4m in a five-year software deal.

The contract, which covers the supply of “runtime software”, was awarded late last month and runs until 8 August 2022. Over the duration of its lifespan it will be worth a total of £11.4m to Reading-based IT services company Advanced 365.

The investment forms part of the DWP’s ongoing VME Remediation (VME-R) programme, a dedicated scheme for moving data and software away from the VME mainframe operating system – for which the UK government claims to be “the world’s biggest customer”. 


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The technology was developed in the 1970s, and has proven difficult to replace in Whitehall, where its use is prevalent. In 2014 DWP kicked off the VME-R initiative and laid out three potential scenarios in which it believed it could be able to move away from a VME-centric environment. 

The first was the theory that it could transition from VME-based databases to modern commodity systems. The second was the proposal that VME applications could be replaced by commercially available packaged software running a standard version of the COBOL programming language. The third was that the code behind its most complicated IT systems could be reverse- and forward-engineered to convert COBOL into Java.

Runtime software will allow the department to manage the workload and performance of existing systems.

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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