Cloud-Based Graph Technology Drives Efficiencies

The Challenge

In recent years, the UK Department for Education has taken a user-centered approach to see how it could best serve the needs of citizens and stakeholders, like educators. “The Department for Education delivers critical services across the education sector, for which we depend on a complex IT infrastructure composed of multiple business systems, services, applications, and components,” said Luke Slowen, Head of Architecture, DfE.

DfE needed visibility across its entire IT infrastructure and all its connections. A small team started mapping services to help identify opportunities for modernization and cost-cutting, and speed up the development and rollout of new services. Creating a central repository of services information, accessible to all users, would aid in faster decision-making and avoid duplication across the landscape.

The team’s initial review of the data environment highlighted where potential reuse could be achieved to enable faster and less costly service delivery.

The Solution

The team needed to model the many relationships across its IT landscape, both physical and logical. They began working with Neo4j and quickly saw that it would support the DfE product roadmap.

“Our graph creates a shared view of our service landscape, which we use to find ways to reuse capability, improve usability, and rationalize, delivering better value services for our users,” said Slowen. “Neo4j helps us visualize our data and the opportunities in one place, so we can focus our efforts on streamlining our service delivery and operations."

Visualization, provided by Neo4j Bloom, is critical, enabling architects, service owners, and product owners to see across the landscape. “Visualization enables us to prioritize our efforts based on where needs are highest and where there are opportunities to do more for less,” said Slowen.

The team needed enterprise functionality, like advanced security features. They chose Neo4j AuraDB, a fully managed cloud graph database.

“As a turnkey SaaS product, Neo4j AuraDB provides lots of flexibility,” said Mario Gledhill, Enterprise Architect, DfE. “It’s very reliable, with little administration required, with items like service upgrades and backups fully automated. Since the cloud version does away with the need for individual Bloom licenses, we’re able to roll it out to all key business users.”

Neo4j’s architectural flexibility enables data pipelines that refresh visualizations. “I've been working with the team very closely around modeling and integration. It’s important to automate these activities so that the visualizations stay current,” said Gledhill.

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