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

Written by Sam Trendall on 15 August 2017 in News
News

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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