Dbvisit Standby Case Study - Northgate


The UK Heavy Goods Vehicle payment system records payments and reports compliance for  journeys made by foreign HGVs visiting Britain every year, collecting over £30 million in levies in the first 8 months of the scheme.

With an ever growing volume of foreign trucks (lorries) on their roads, the British Department for Transport (DfT) established the Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) levy to even the playing field for local firms and to ensure they remained price-competitive in the local haulage market. Under the scheme all hauliers driving trucks of 12 metric tonnes (13.2 tons) or more must pay the levy before using UK roads, with fees from £10 per day or £1,000 per year. The DfT estimates that foreign vehicles make over 3 million journeys each year on UK roads.

Northgate Public Services operates the HGV foreign operator payment system on behalf of the DfT. The solution is used around the clock by those paying the levy and by those enforcing compliance. It includes a critical disaster recovery solution powered by Dbvisit Standby.

The Challenge

The DfT selected Northgate to deliver the HGV foreign operator payment system as a managed service encompassing technology, infrastructure and software as well as business operations (e.g. multi-lingual call center). The service maintains a database of foreign trucks which have paid the levy. Enforcement officials then check the vehicle registration number against the system to confirm that an operator has paid the levy.

Northgate had just six months to develop, test and implement the solution, and to establish the business support functions; a very short time frame for the project given the scale of the system and the public visibility of the service being delivered. Furthermore, with a fixed date for enactment of the legislation, and significant penalties for non-delivery, Northgate needed to ensure they had a cost-effective and robust solution which was operational from day one.

Under the levy scheme, hauliers are required by law to make payments before they arrive on UK soil, so the system must be available to receive payments at all times. Similarly, enforcement officers must be able to check vehicle compliance around the clock, requiring access to a live data feed on a 24x7 basis. Such requirements demand a robust and reliable disaster recovery (DR) solution to keep the system running should something go wrong with the primary site.

Northgate required a cost-effective method to deliver disaster recovery while still using Oracle Standard Edition. They considered building their own solution based on database scripts and log shipping, but were concerned about the reliability and maintainability of such a solution, let alone the effort and risk associated with building and thoroughly testing it within the available time frame.

After reviewing the available options, Northgate selected Dbvisit Standby as the disaster recovery component for the solution.

  • 1.2 million levies, collecting more than  £30 million in revenue in first eight months
  • 24x7 operation required for payments and compliance checking
  • Oracle Standard Edition
  • Full DR delivered by Dbvisit Standby

The Solution

Northgate constructed the HGV foreign operator payment solution using their “Foundation” development platform, leveraging industry standard technologies including Oracle Application Express and Oracle Standard Edition database.

Dbvisit Standby’s database replication functionality is used to deliver the DR features of the solution. Dbvisit Standby is a proven, reliable and cost-effective physical data replication solution for Oracle Standard Edition databases that can be used to deliver disaster recovery.

In the words of Andy Jones, Northgate Sales Director, “Dbvisit Standby was straightforward to install and easy for the implementation team to work with”.

Northgate designed the DR solution to provide a Recovery Point Objective or RPO (the maximum allowable data loss) of several minutes. Similarly, the Recovery Time Objective, or RTO (the time to switch to the fail over system in the event of a disaster) is also measured in minutes.

Dbvisit Standby performs database replication every few minutes, synchronizing data between the geographically dispersed primary and secondary data centers and constantly keeping the standby database up-to-date.

The Dbvisit Standby solution has been designed to help with both the fail over and the recovery processes. Standby keeps the backup copy of the database up-to-date for use during fail over, and supports the recovery process by re-populating the new primary database without an application outage.

  • Implemented in 2014
  • Part of six-month project
  • Oracle Enterprise Edition not required
  • Successful deployment in short time frame with critical go-live date driven by legislation
  • Recovery Point Objective & Recovery Time Objective - several minutes

The Result

The HGV foreign operator payment system went live as scheduled on 1 April 2014, coinciding with the legislation which mandates the levy.

During the system’s first eight months of operation 1.2 million levies were purchased by HGV drivers, collecting more than £30 million in revenue.

Dbvisit Standby has performed flawlessly in this environment, successfully maintaining the replication of the significant data volumes sustained by the system. Standby replicates production data from the primary database to the secondary (backup) database approximately every five minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Based on their experience with Dbvisit Standby, Northgate is now looking to utilize Dbvisit Standby across other public sector solutions they have deployed around the world. Andy Jones, Northgate Sales Director, says “We would readily use Dbvisit again as part of a future solution, and in fact are looking to retrofit it to several existing customer sites to improve their disaster recovery systems”.

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About Dbvisit

Dbvisit develops disaster recovery and database replication products that ensure an organization’s critical data is available and up-to-date when and where it is needed; whether on-premise, in the cloud or a combination of both.

Dbvisit was formed in 2006 to develop Dbvisit Standby, an off-the-shelf, low-cost, high performance disaster recovery solution for Oracle Standard Edition (SE) database users.  Today, Dbvisit Standby is the world's leading Data Guard alternative solution for Oracle Standard Edition.

Over 1000 business, academic, and public sector organizations in 110 countries trust Dbvisit products to deliver replication for their Oracle databases.  Since 2011 Dbvisit has been ranked in the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 for Asia Pacific for the fastest growing technology companies in the region.  Dbvisit is an Oracle Gold Partner.


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