IBM talks up open cloud, downplays vendor lock-in as it signs public cloud framework with UK.gov

Now just AWS waiting in the wings under One Government Cloud policy

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As predicted by El Reg, IBM has joined the growing band of mostly American vendors to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the UK government that defines discounts for public cloud sales to public sector buyers.

The framework forms part of the One Government Cloud initiative that involves the Cabinet Office, its buying arm Crown Commercial Services (CCS), and the Government Digital Service (GDS). Microsoft, Google, and local player UKCloud put pen to paper earlier this year and are now joined by Big Blue.

The One Government Cloud is a continuation of the Cloud First policy: public sector buyers have been asked to evaluate the cloud before they consider topping up their on-premise infrastructure.

According to IBM, the deal is all about breaking down the barriers to public sector cloud adoption, which isn't exactly a glowing review of the Digital Marketplace that GDS launched in 2012 under the G Cloud strategy.

Cue the prepared remark from IBM UK and Ireland veep for public sector, Janine Cook: "As the public sector continues its rapid digital transformation, government organisations crossing many industries need a reliable, resilient and secure technology environment to meet the needs of citizens and address complex security and regulatory requirement."

Not content to end it there, Cook added that an "open hybrid cloud platform" built and run by IBM can help the Brit public sector "develop new digital services and take the next step along their cloud journeys".

All central government organisations will be able to buy IBM's public cloud services on "preferential commercial terms" including local authorities, education establishments and the National Health Services, the company said.

IBM's pitch is that its infrastructure was built on a "foundation of open-source software" with over 190 cloud-native APIs from AI and blockchain to serverless and DevOps. "This will give organisations greater flexibility to access services without vendor lock in."

"Organisations [in the public sector] are encouraged to take steps to mitigate provider lock-in by choosing products that use open standards and formats, so they have control of their data," claimed IBM.

The proof will be in the pudding.

Services on offer include IBM's Multicloud Manager, Cloud Paks, Red Hat OpenShift, Cloud Garages, Power Virtual Servers on Cloud, VMware, and Cloud Migration Services.

IBM is an also-ran when it comes to the global public cloud sales stakes: AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and Alibaba accounted for 62 per cent of global cloud spend in Q1, according to Canalys.

In recent years, AWS has won multiple contracts with various government departments, including HMRC and the Home Office. TechMarketView analysis placed AWS as the fastest-growing software and IT services player in the UK.

AWS is to be the final vendor to sign an MoU with the Cabinet Office, though the company has so far resisted the temptation to comment on this. ®

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