The Office of the Revenue Commissioners in the Republic of Ireland (Revenue) is responsible for the assessment and collection of taxes and duties throughout the country. In addition to collecting and administering almost all government-imposed taxes and duties (nearly €74 billion in 2019), Revenue is responsible for the enforcement of import and export controls and the national administration of various European Union schemes, such as the exchange of VAT information between member states. Revenue also provides collection services for several other Irish government departments.
Among all the pithy sayings for which the Irish are well known, there’s no record of anyone ever saying “Sorry, we can’t accept your tax payments today—the system is down.”
There’s a good reason for that. The Republic of Ireland’s Office of the Revenue Commissioners (Revenue) recognized as far back as 1993 that the agency was going to need a highly available and highly reliable database platform to support uninterrupted operation of its mission-critical computer systems. Revenue adopted the Actian Ingres database and associated application development toolset following a competitive public tendering exercise. The solution has proven its reliability, performance, and resilience over and over. What is a surprise to some, though, is that Revenue is still running its primary back-office and public-facing systems on the Actian Ingres platform. It’s not the same release of Ingres that was installed back in 1993. On the contrary, Revenue has continued to embrace new versions of the core database software, ensuring that it can take advantage of new features while building on the stable, manageable, and economical database platform it has come to trust.
The Actian Ingres database platform supports Revenue’s primary back-office and public-facing systems—its Integrated Taxation Services and Revenue Online Services, respectively. It also supports Revenue’s case tracking and contact management systems, its data warehouse, and a variety of third-party systems developed for the Customs and Excise divisions. Through periods of sustained growth (the Celtic Tiger years) as well as periods of global economic contraction, the elasticity and flexibility of Actian Ingres has enabled these applications to scale easily and deliver peak performance in support of Revenue’s operational strategies.
Today, Revenue runs Actian Ingres in multiple installations, each with numerous databases supporting mission-critical applications in both production and development. Revenue’s IT architecture and networks have evolved extensively since 1993—embracing the Java standard, for example, and building out a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to facilitate service delivery—and with each evolutionary step, Actian Ingres has continued to support the agency without interruption. Revenue also makes great use of Actian Vector as part of its BI suite. The speed and capability of Actian Vector provide Revenue with a high-performance analysis of large data volumes.
“We simply cannot afford to be off the air,” says John Barron, Revenue’s CIO, “and Actian Ingres and Vector help ensure that we’re not.”
Revenue’s continued investment in Actian Ingres has enabled the agency to leverage improvements in performance and efficiency. Critical applications that interact with the database can scale even more efficiently, with remote community instances of the database feeding information into a central consolidated database running on Actian Ingres Enterprise edition.
“Actian Ingres and Vector provide us with real-time analytics and operational improvements that have helped us increase revenue collection while reducing internal costs,” says Barron. “We have every reason to anticipate that these kinds of efficiencies will increase over time.”
And time is on Revenue’s side. Its users and support personnel have had years to become familiar with Actian’s ability to evolve and expand without interruption. As a large percentage of Revenue’s customer base moves to mandatory e-filing and e-paying, that familiarity instills confidence that Actian can handle the influx of information and transactions. Already, 75% of Income and Corporation Tax transactions take place online, as do nearly 100% of Customs transactions.
Revenue’s investment in Actian Ingres may yield other dividends, too. The authority’s business model calls for greater inter-application integration and increased use of business intelligence and analytics. New Actian technologies, such as the Actian Data Platform/Vector On-prem hybrid analytical database, may provide the authority with easy-to-embrace opportunities to create whole new kinds of services and insights that can help it meet the needs of its stakeholders more effectively and efficiently.
Actian products have long helped ensure that Revenue could fulfill its fiduciary duties properly and cost-effectively. Even as the world evolves and new challenges and opportunities present themselves, Revenue has learned that it can bank on Actian to keep critical applications running at peak performance.