NHS in Wales bets big on Microsoft with deal worth nearly half a billion
Forget historic cloud downtime, latest contract with reseller to offer 'agile and flexible' approach
The NHS in Wales has decided to send up to £450 million ($568 million) of taxpayers' hard-earned cash into the bank account of Microsoft via one of its resellers, the public sector organization has confirmed.
According to official documents, Digital Health and Care Wales (DHCW) awarded Trustmarque Solutions the agreement to provide a range of Microsoft software and cloud services in a four-year undertaking, which has the option to extend for a further two years.
The reseller - sold by Capita in 2022 to One Equity Partners - was the only winning bidder, yet the contract forms a framework agreement, which suggests an indicative maximum spend of £450 million ($568 million) over six years, although the public body is not committed to that value.
A board report from DHCW says the total maximum per annum expenditure for NHS Wales will be around £75 million ($94 million) per year under a contract starting in April.
According to DHCW board notes for the Strategic Procurement Activity, the benefits of the new contract will be a standard "agile and flexible approach" for NHS organizations in Wales to acquire Microsoft products and professional services.
The board also sees a "partnership approach" with the reseller, such that it will maximize benefits, minimize costs, and deliver best value for money for the NHS Wales Microsoft estate. These are lofty aims to shoot for, given the generally poor track record of public sector procurement.
Trustmarque is additionally tasked with support in the management of Microsoft licensing arrangements, the board added.
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A separate business justification for the framework says that the reseller is also set to support the NHS Wales Microsoft 365 Centre of Excellence, which provisions a single tenant for the whole of NHS Wales, and licensing more than 120,000 NHS Wales users for email and associated office products.
The public sector body's enthusiasm for investing in Microsoft's cloud-based Office products appears undented by significant downtime. An Integrated Organisational Performance Report showed that in November users across the Welsh NHS were unable to access anything on Azure for about an hour and a half.
"The preliminary root cause was identified as a sudden spike in traffic resulting in the Azure Traffic manager service reaching transient operational thresholds which impact was noted across Europe," the report states. "To mitigate this a change to the traffic management policy for Azure Traffic manager service was successfully enacted. One hundred and three calls were logged against this Major Incident, with a recorded downtime of 99 minutes." ®