UKCloud latest to sign Memorandum of Understanding with UK.gov ahead of cloud mega framework

Google, Microsoft already on board. AWS not far behind. Sources say plucky Brit upstart vows never to practise tax avoidance


UKCloud has agreed specified discounts on a range of fluffy white services - public, private and hybrid - under a framework agreement with Crown Commercial Services (CCS), the procurement agency acting on behalf of British government.

Microsoft and Google have each already penned a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with CCS as part of the One Government Cloud Computing (OGCC) strategy - a joint initiative set up by the Cabinet Office, CCS and Government Digital Services. UKCloud, however, is the first and likely only UK sovereign biz to be accredited.

Farnborough-based UKCloud's CEO Simon Hansford told us it had tried to "emphasise the need for choice, high assurance and expert support services" when it worked with CCS and the Cabinet Office on the OGCC blueprint.

The company, whose backers have included middle-of-the-road rocker Phil Collins and tennis ace Andy Murray, is no stranger to the public sector and to date has generated £104.23m on the Digital Marketplace, a catalogue of web-based services exclusively for government departments, authorities and agencies, since it sprang into life in 2012.

UKCloud pointed out it is the only supplier to have signed an MoU that is also involved in Crown Campus, a joint venture between Ark Data Centres and the Cabinet Office to operate local data centre facilities that host government data and provide services. The company claimed the MoU "signals renewed support" for the venture, which had struggled to lure customers and taken a back seat as AWS hoovered up more contract with UK.gov.

Hansford claimed its inclusion in the framework was recognition that a "national multi-cloud provider like UKCloud is a safe, sustainable and affordable option to support and accelerate [the UK government's] digital transformation aspirations".

The commercial terms agreed between the UKCloud, just as in the case of Microsoft and Google, remain officially under wraps. Sources close to the public sector told El Reg that UKCloud had agreed to charge clients in pounds sterling, given assurance of data sovereignty and vowed to "never practise any form of tax avoidance".

That last one might ruffle the feathers of the global titans who are in the sights of the French and British government that intend to tax digital businesses that use aggressive strategies to minimise the coffers flowing to the local tax collector. Whether the last emotive one actually means anything is a moot point.

Last year it emerged that HMRC spent six times more with AWS than the £11m AWS coughed up in corporate tax. And earlier this year, the Home Office signed a £100m public cloud services deal with AWS.

Sources further told us that AWS will be joining the Microsoft, Google and UKCloud in signing MoUs under the Cloud Computing framework. The MoU sets out the common commercial principles to be applied when CCS issues tenders under the framework next month.

As expected, government types sent canned statements to The Register, all of which talked about the vendors' MoUs providing value for money, improving services, giving the public sector access to digital tools, and saving time and effort for public sector buyers via a handy framework. None of the spokespeople said things that warranted quoting directly.

AWS refused to comment. We have asked the Cabinet Office to comment on talks with AWS to sign an MoU, the forthcoming Cloud Computing framework and how this differs from services already being sold on the Digital Marketplace. ®


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