UK.gov splashes out on 40,000 new devices amid COVID-19-fuelled homeworking boom

And guess which department bought 10,000 O365 licences?

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Key British government departments have bought thousands of new devices to cope with the COVID-19-fuelled homeworking boom – as well as signing up for unprecedented numbers of accounts with videoconferencing services.

The Ministry of Defence, for example, ordered 13,500 laptops, more than 3,200 tablets and 2,200 phones since the crisis began in March, according to research from the Parliament Street think tank.

Figures obtained under Freedom of Information showed that the MoD had also purchased a whopping 9,476 Office 365 licences. Mr Nadella and the crew in Redmond will be rubbing their hands together with glee.

In total the MoD, Home Office, Cabinet Office, Treasury and Ministry of Justice bought more than 40,000 new laptops, fondleslabs and phones between them.

By contrast the tight-pursed Department for Transport, as well as the Foreign Office, bought nothing new – except for 15 Zoom licences. A more connected MoD took out 550 Zoom licences since the measures to contain the virus began, however.

Ever the elite department, the Cabinet Office obtained 59 MacBook Airs, 91 Elitebooks and 68 iPhone 6s.

Parliament Street linked the purchase of Zoom licences with rather outdated warnings about the security of the videoconferencing app. While it's far from perfect, the latest version did plug the obvious security howlers that had knowledgeable folk tearing their hair out earlier this year.

An ominous Paul Farrington, EMEA CTO of Veracode, commented in a canned statement: "It's critical that key government departments are cautious if using the platform for sensitive meetings, around national security, and public health. With cyber attacks on the rise, it's also crucial that users ensure they have downloaded the latest versions of these applications, to prevent hackers from gaining access and stealing data."

As El Reg revealed in March, private organisations were also rushing to switch budgets to help their workforce flex to home work. Computacenter, one of Europe's largest resellers, told us large corporations ordered thousands of laptops. Monitors, VPN services and wireless LANs were also in big demand, CEO Mike Norris confirmed.

Customer spending on cloud infrastructure services rocketed globally to $31bn in Q1 as businesses across the globe scaled their operations to cope with more homeworking amid national lockdowns. Demand for clouds has pressured Microsoft and Google to ensure they have enough capacity to serve customers.

For some, the switch from office work may not just be a tactical move: India's Tata Consultancy Services has already signalled that for some staff, working remotely will become permanent. ®

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