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HM Land Registry saves money with Oracle SPARC servers

Sophie Curtis | April 19, 2013
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 organisation designed, planned, coordinated and implemented the new infrastructure without any help from an external consultancy, due to the tight budget. The infrastructure was created in parallel by copying the production environment over to the new kit and then creating a new standby.

"There was no system downtime and it really was that simple," said Taylor. "Users were not inconvenienced, and we've met our requirements to use less energy and be greener."

Over the years, Taylor said that the combination of SPARC and Solaris has given the Land Registry very high availability, high performance, and the option of using containers or logical domains. System administrators also like Oracle Solaris DTrace because "it just works".

As a result of the Oracle implantation, the Land Registry has been able to reduce its server farm from 27 to 13, using Oracle VM Server 2.1 for SPARC virtualisation. It has also simplified its software stack by removing a Sun system management cluster that was no longer needed.

Taylor said that RAM is much cheaper on T4-4 machines than it had been on the V890s, so the Land Registry is now able to get a lot more bang for its bucks. The organisation uses a shared storage pool and some flash accelerators, which provides a much more flexible system.

"There have been one or two trade-offs - some of the overnight batch jobs don't run quite as quickly as they did on the big HDS system that we had - but that's really not a problem at all," said Taylor.

"The day we cut over from the big V890s (these were big enterprise boxes at the time) to the T4s, there was a massive performance improvement, and response times were halved."

Taylor added that, had budgets been bigger, the Land Registry would probably would have replaced hardware like-for-like. However, as a result of circumstances, the organisation has managed to do quite a lot more with quite a lot less.

Oracle has now launched a new range of T-series servers based on its SPARC T5 processor, which doubles the core count over the SPARC T4 from eight cores to 16 and boosts the clock-speed, I/O bandwidth and memory bandwidth.

However, Oracle's hardware business has been hit hard by a worldwide decline in server and storage shipments. According to Gartner, Oracle's server revenues declined of 18 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, and storage revenues dropped by 24 percent.

Chris Armes, VP of Engineering for Oracle Hardware Systems, told Techworld that one of the main selling points of its new SPARC T5 processors is their price performance, claiming that an equivalent system from IBM would cost $2 million, compared to $270,000 from Oracle.

 

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