Feeds

Inside the Ordnance Survey's new HQ for the digital era

Building designed with servers – and job losses – in mind

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

In the past year, the Ordnance Survey organisation has survived a huge government cull of quangos, the prospect of ugly public sector cutbacks and a big shake-up of its licensing model. But the UK mapping service now arguably faces its biggest challenge yet: A move to a new office that, for many of its workers, is already proving to be a major culture shock.

I visited the Ordnance Survey office last month to find out how it will shortly be shifting its staff, paperwork and computers away from the org’s fusty old 1960s hospital-like, asbestos-ridden grey building in Southampton to a shiny new headquarters 10 minutes up the road on the outskirts of the city.

Ordnance Survey

What's most striking about the OS is that while its employee headcount has dramatically shrunk from close to 5,000 workers in the mid-'60s to a little over 1,000 people on its books today, the trading fund has clearly outgrown its current office.

Parts of the old building in Romsey Road, Southampton, are crumbling away, while elsewhere there are sad, abandoned rooms that once housed paper maps – which of course were the Ordnance Survey’s raison d'être before the advent of digital technology. Gone too is the obligatory tea lady and her trusty rusty trolley. I can report, however, that a government-sponsored Web2.0 robot pouring tea while providing Twitter updates has not replaced her – yet.

Ordnance Survey

Asbestos warnings feature throughout the old OS building

Interestingly, the OS service plodded on at the old office bereft of a proper server room. Instead, as the computer revolution took off, the old building served as a kind of grand but eccentric old aunt to the demands of new technology that was foisted onto the mapping service.

This meant that there was no air-conditioning for the many servers dotted all over the building. I was assured during my visit that the OS suffered very little downtime due to the fact that it always had a backup system in place. But still, readers of The Register will surely now let rip a collective ‘WTF’ at such a fundamental neglect of server-humming harmony.

Ordnance Survey

This leak was perilously close to a standalone server cabinet bereft of air-con

No surprise then that the new building simply throws the old one into sharp relief. The Ordnance Survey’s board of directors cobbled together £40m to bring it to life during a gestating project that took the best part of a decade to be realised. But the team behind the build got there – and on budget – just as the first government cutbacks from the ConDem Coalition started to fly.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.