Flush with cash: UK utility Southern Water names 13 winners who'll drink up £50m application deal

Firm provides fresh water and wastewater to millions of Brits

IBM, Tata Consultancy Services, and Wipro are among 13 winners on a £50m deal to help build and manage applications for UK utility Southern Water.

The £878m-turnover infrastructure company, which provides water services across southern England from Hampshire to Kent, named the vendors as a pool of pre-qualified service providers to build, operate, and transfer applications.

The winners fall into five lots: digital services such as application lifecycle management development; consulting, software development, internet and support; management of assets and geographic information systems; operational technology and telemetry services; and enterprise information management.

Oracle and SAP make up the basis of the utility's main application estate.

Southern Water has already signed up with MTI Technology (snaffled by Ricoh), a Brit IT services biz, in a £15m contract to provide professional and managed services for data centre modernisation, data protection, and security in what was described as a digital transformation. MTI was also to host business applications, including SAP, Microsoft Exchange, and Oracle databases.

The utility firm, which provides water to 2.6 million customers and wastewater services to more than 4.7 million homes, has a long-running relationship with IT services and outsourcing firm Capita, which it extended for five years in 2018 in a deal worth £30m.

A consortium of investors calling itself Greensands Holdings Limited own Southern Water, with the biggest shareholder being JP Morgan [PDF, see page 8].

Where there's water, there's phishing, apparently

A cyberattack led to the shutdown of some Southern Water systems in February last year. An employee had inadvertently opened an attachment in an email purporting to be from the company's CEO with a subject of "Coronavirus", a source said. The insider told The Register that networks including the system responsible for Supervision, Control, and Data Acquisition (SCADA) were affected.

The company has also struggled with its business data. In June 2019, Southern Water was hit by £126m [PDF] in penalties from the regulator Ofwat for breaching its statutory duties on sewage treatment, including the "deliberate misreporting" of data, and the dumping of untreated effluent into beaches, rivers, and streams.

The fine illustrates the broader management challenges any IT transformation will be required to support. Ofwat said: "We have... concluded that [Southern Water] has failed: to have adequate systems of planning, governance and internal controls in place to be able to manage its wastewater treatment works [and] to accurately report information about the performance of these works." ®

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