UK government puts £750m on the table as it looks to deal directly with cloud providers

Plan is to get public sector buying services straight from suppliers

The UK government has launched a £750m procurement looking for platform and infrastructure services direct from public cloud providers - the latest in a bewildering array of frameworks for the fluffy white stuff.

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS), run by the Cabinet Office, is putting together a framework agreement for public sector bodies to buy from, the plan being that bulk buying will make cloud services from the friendly neighbourhood hyperscalers more economical.

With a potential three-quarters of a billion pounds on the table, the aim is to create "a route for UK public sector organisations to buy their IaaS and PaaS requirements directly from the owners of public cloud platforms," according to a tender notice published today.

It defines requirements as "pure" compute, and doesn't include design, configuration, tailoring, management, or professional services. "The services can most simply and usefully be thought of as a commodity 'utility' service where buyers connect to and use the supplier's platform and processing resources for their own requirements,” the tender said.

The CCS imagines applications processing large sets of data, such as apps for weather prediction or modelling medical scenarios, among the use cases. The government only wants bids from providers with "full and exclusive control" of the infrastructure that underpins their platforms which are capable of providing the services primarily from within the UK. The contract is set to last four years and bids must be in by 14 January 2021.

But the framework will not be the only avenue available to public-sector buyers attracted by the promise of cost savings on their cloud environments. The CCS has also penned One Government Value Agreements (OGVA), a three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AWS, Azure and GCP - the big three cloud providers - and others. The agreements mean that all purchases by public-sector organisations will be treated as though they are made by one large enterprise client, but does not necessarily cut out resellers, some of whom were keen to get involved.

IBM, HPE and UKCloud have also signed up to the MoU.

The UK government's desire to work directly with big vendors is not limited to the cloud. In June it put out feelers to figure out what the prospects of working directly with the big application vendors might look like, according to a prior information notice that could lead to a £400m procurement.

In fact, Crown Commercial Services oversees frameworks under which central and local goverment cough in excess of £18bn worth of taxpayers' cash on goods and services ever year. And CCS takes a 1 per cent commission on each penny spent.

It is little wonder CCS CEO Simon Tse's "ambition" is to "reach £30bn of spend from a baseline of £13bn in 2017". His organisation is on the look out for a CDIO to help it get internal systems up to snuff.

A senior source close to government frameworks told us there are too many frameworks being run and it is confusing for public sector buyers and tech makers. "It's time and sweat," he said of the process. ®

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