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Network Transformation at the Department for Work and Pensions

About The Department for Work and Pensions

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is responsible for welfare, pensions, and child maintenance policy. As the UK’s biggest public service department, it administers the State Pension and a range of working age, disability, and ill health benefits to around 20 million claimants and customers. They have over 96,000 staff and approximately 1,000 sites across the UK.

The DWP has four operational organisations: Jobcentre Plus administers working-age benefits such as Universal Credit; the Pension Service which pays the Basic State Pension and Pension Credit and provides information on related issues; Disability and Carers Service which provides financial support to disabled people and their carers; and the Child Maintenance Group which provides the statutory Child Support Schemes, operating as the Child Support Agency and the Child Maintenance Service.

The DWP’s infrastructure plays a fundamental role in how citizens access and engage with their services. It is accelerating the digitisation of services at scale and pace to improve citizen experience and increase efficiency. This includes renewing IT systems to automate and fully digitise repetitive manual processes and update legacy IT systems.

The Problem: Old Technology is Complex and Expensive to Maintain

The DWP has and continues to actively pursue a ‘cloud-first’ strategy, transforming and migrating its applications to Public Cloud platforms. This has led to the traditional walled garden network, with a single entry and exit point to the internet, SaaS, and Cloud Service Providers, which no longer meets the needs of the Department. It is increasingly costly and complex to scale out and manage and to meet the security and performance needs of the organisation.

Other key challenges and priorities that drove the need to transform the network included:

  • Network-related security posture needed transforming in order to reflect new and emerging threats, alongside increased adoption of the cloud
  • Meeting the future required network scaling requirements for the Workplace Transformation Programme demand
  • Supporting Digital Technology Services Strategy in reducing network services operations costs and to offset investments in additional capacity
  • Delivering continued disaggregation of current large Managed Service contracts where possible and providing SMEs with the opportunity to deliver to the DWP, in line with Cabinet Office Policy.

The Solution: A Data-Centric Hybrid Cloud

UBDS has helped The DWP design, build and migrate from ‘network centric’ to one of the most advanced ‘data centric’ hybrid cloud networks in the world, across more than 900 sites.

Key technical transformational changes include:


  • Rollout of one of the largest Hybrid Wide Area Networks in Europe, using Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) Technology by building an on-premises orchestration platform and migrating all traffic onto the SD-WAN overlay
  • Providing direct internet access from DWP sites to the Internet, including:
    • Integration with Cloud Access Service Provider (CASB); and
    • Direct connectivity to AWS and Azure Landing Zones
  • Installing fibre-based wires only Wide Area Network (WAN) Service delivered to DWP sites and consolidating multiple networks
  • Delivery of new network monitoring capability to enable tuning application performance over the network

UBDS has been an integral part of the programme by:

  • Setting up, mobilising, and managing the entire programme
  • Building the positive economic business case for transformation
  • Creating a proof of concept and evaluation of Hybrid Cloud Network Technologies
  • Overseeing the procurement of a ‘wires only’ WAN Service and SD-WAN
  • Managing the rollout of SD-WAN, WAN migration and integration of CASB and Landing Zones
  • Determining, preparing, and implementing operational processes and procedures, plus toolset and monitoring integration between service toolsets and new technology platforms
  • Providing an interim managed service, before handing over to The DWP Network Ops Teams

“A brilliant example of a collaborative approach in delivering a tremendously successful transformation of the DWP networks, significantly reducing our operational costs and resulting in the DWP owning and managing our own network infrastructure for the first time in two decades.”

— Ian Warburton, Head of Infrastructure Services – DWP Digital Group

The Outcome: Lower Cost and Increased Efficiency

The DWP’s vision is to deliver a hybrid network and to eventually transition to Zero Trust.

As a result of this network transformation, The DWP has been able to achieve the following outcomes related to its vision:

  • Through the disaggregation of legacy WAN contracts significantly reduced Network operational costs
  • Delivered smooth transition of SD-WAN, Local Area Network and WAN services into operations, enhancing DWP’s own internal capability through the insource of key services
  • Greater visibility and control of its network, leading to improved reliability and performance
  • Reduced the risk of capacity issues within The DWP’s on-premises hosted infrastructure through the utilisation of SD-WAN
  • Delivered significant network performance increase with an average time for users to access applications over SD-WAN improved by 26%
  • Risks addressed with current walled garden network infrastructure, enabling continued cloud migration plans can continue without delay
  • Material number of new and revised security controls introduced to reflect new and emerging security threats

The DWP can set up sites in hours and quickly deliver higher capacity, with real-time insight into how the network is performing.


The network transformation is delivering against key priorities for The DWP and has provided the steppingstones for future innovation.


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