Apprenticeship Levy, Case studies, Management

Boosting the UK’s clean energy generation with Ofgem

11 February 2020 by Isla Lightfoot

This Spring, Corndel will launch the UK’s very first levy-funded DevOps Engineering training programme. We are delighted to be delivering this programme in partnership with Softwire, a leading digital consultancy trusted by organisations including the BBC, News UK and many major high-street banks.

Learn more about Softwire and their brilliant work.

In the final piece of the series, this case study showcases how Softwire have helped Ofgem adopt a DevOps culture, highlighting some of Softwire’s real-world DevOps expertise that has gone in to creating the Corndel DevOps Engineering Diploma.

The Challenge

To replace and enhance the system at the heart of a prominent UK green energy programme, and embed a culture of DevOps through active mentoring and continuous improvement.

British energy regulator Ofgem manages the Government’s high-profile Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, which promotes the uptake of small-scale renewable and low-carbon electricity generation. Powering the scheme is the Central FIT Register, which holds a record of every generating installation and performs the critical calculations to ensure electricity companies make or receive the correct payments.

The previous system was reaching end-of-life and Ofgem wanted a more modern, flexible tool that enhanced transparency, self-service and reporting. They also wanted to change their development practices, creating a self-sustaining culture that would allow them to undertake future changes and enhancements themselves

The Solution

Softwire worked with Ofgem to architect and build a new application hosted in Azure, using the Microsoft .NET Framework with an AngularJS front-end. Working closely with the Ofgem development team allowed us to evolve a set of development practices, training the team and setting them up to succeed in the future.

Softwire helped to build a DevOps culture within Ofgem, guiding them through the adoption of new development practices

INFRASTRUCTURE Softwire brought the owner of their infrastructure into our team, keeping them involved in the build of the system in order to improve communication with the developers. Softwire worked with the infrastructure team to build and maintain setup scripts, allowing new environments to be provisioned in a consistent and automated fashion.

AUTOMATION Softwire pushed for automation wherever possible, and developed fast and repeatable application deployments that could be used through the entire path-to-live. This allowed us to release features into test environments more rapidly, shortening QA feedback cycles. It also made production deployments quicker, safer and more reliable.

ITERATION Softwire championed automated testing as part of the development process. Softwire set up a continuous integration pipeline using Jenkins, to enforce coding standards and run the automated tests. This ensured consistency between our team and the client’s team, and will keep the codebase consistent in the future as the development team changes.

GOVERNANCE Softwire helped Ofgem to adopt Jira for work item tracking and progress reporting. Softwire were co-located with the Ofgem development team, which allowed us to share our development cycle from stand-ups through to retros. Softwire established a set of working practices alongside their team and equipped the team to leverage and further refine these practices after the end of our involvement.

The Result

Better reporting, streamlined working and improved quality assurance. The integration of a DevOps culture into Ofgem’s development team.

Following the successful migration from Ofgem’s legacy system, the new Central FIT Register launched in Spring 2017. It now holds records for nearly a million generator installations and monitors over £1 billion per-annum of payments.

Its impact has been immediate, both for Ofgem and electricity companies. Processes that required significant manual effort are now self-service and automated. Reporting is dramatically improved, and quality assurance is faster.

Perhaps most importantly, though, our time embedded with the development team has helped them to grow alongside the new application. Softwire have left them in full control of the source code and infrastructure, and they continue to benefit from the practices that Softwire have developed alongside them.

More information about the Corndel DevOps Engineering Diploma.

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