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How transforming our network led to a better user experience

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Ian Warburton (Head of Infrastructure, Tech Services) shares how DWP Digital created a virtual network for its IT estate, to enable the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to improve digital interactions with customers.

This hybrid network allows DWP Digital to set up sites within days, deliver more capacity quicker, and it enables high speed traffic flow over the most optimum uncongested routes to the cloud and other DWP sites. The rollout will include 200 new sites. 

Embracing cloud technology is helping to deliver greater operational efficiencies and, more recently, has enabled DWP to flex in response to COVID-19 and the government’s commitment to helping people get back into work.

The traditional physical site centric, private network model is being replaced by a software defined, internet based, data centric and application performance managed network that is agile, scalable, secure and highly performant. This will support the needs of a modern day digital enterprise network.

So far, work to transform DWP’s network capabilities include the rollout of a Software Defined WAN to over half the DWP estate, which includes over 1,000 sites and 84,000 employees serving around 20 million customers. This rollout allows sites and users to access the internet directly using Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) technology. This is cloud-based software that monitors activity and enforces security policies, protecting staff from external cyber threats. DWP is now rolling out fibre to the reminder of its estate and expects 90% to be complete by January 2021, working in conjunction with the Department of Media, Culture and Sport, it will enable gigabit-capable fibre connections in around 50 rural locations. This is particularly important for locations which are unlikely to benefit from commercial investment in the foreseeable future. The remaining 10% of the SD WAN rollout is expected to be complete by April.

The department has also taken on increasing responsibility for the network, managing the new Software Defined WAN, giving them real-time insight into how the network is performing. 

This is just the first stage in the journey. The goal is to migrate the majority of its applications and devices to a zero trust network model by 2023.  

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