UK players line up against US heavyweights on £750m hyperscale cloud framework

Written by Sam Trendall on 12 May 2021 in News
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Four UK firms to be given the chance to compete with US giants

Credit: Christine Matthews/CC BY SA 2.0

Nine firms – including five US giants and four UK players – have gained a spot on a new £750m government commercial vehicle for hyperscale cloud services.

The Cloud Compute framework from the Crown Commercial Service will allow all public and third sector organisations to procure “high-volume cloud-hosting solutions”. The deal covers the provision of infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service offerings, and is designed to offer buyers capacity that can flex as their needs change.

“Cloud Compute lets customers rapidly scale up or down their usage as and when required, with longer call-off options than other cloud agreements and more flexibility over taking on new service offerings during the contract term,” CCS said.

The framework, which comes with an estimated worth of £750m, will run for four years. 

It features nine suppliers, including US-based heavyweights Google, Amazon Web Services, Oracle, Microsoft, and IBM. Alongside them are four local players: Hampshire-based UKCloud; Mancunian firm UKFast; London’s Frontier Technology; and Fordway, based in Surrey.


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CCS said that, to make the cut, companies had been asked to demonstrate more than just economic benefits and technical expertise.

“As part of the tender process, bidders were asked to provide evidence of how they would support customers to achieve social value through their contracts – boosting sustainability and economic inequality,” the procurement agency added. “CCS will continue to work with suppliers on this agreement to understand and reduce the public sector’s carbon emissions footprint through cloud adoption, in line with the government’s carbon net zero commitments.”

Two thirds of the hosting providers featured on the Cloud Compute framework – the five US outfits, plus UKCloud – last year agreed memoranda of understanding with the government that will see them offer discounts and other benefits to public sector entities by, effectively, treating them as a single customer. A seventh firm, HPE, also signed an MoU as part of the One Government Cloud Strategy, but the vendor is not featured on the framework.

The buying vehicle is designed to offer something different and complementary to the long-standing G-Cloud framework. Now in its 12th iteration, G-Cloud is better suited to smaller hosting requirements and specialist services, while the new framework is geared towards large volumes of data and major projects, according to CCS. The incoming deal also offers call-off contract terms of up three years, plus two further one-year extensions – a year longer than is available on G-Cloud.

“CCS is launching Cloud Compute to complement G-Cloud, which has shorter call-off terms and a wider pool of suppliers able to offer more diverse services,” the procurement body said. “Cloud Compute focuses on flexible hyperscale compute environments, used for the development of new software applications or where large and complex data sets need to be modelled, for example. Being able to rapidly scale up or down the service offered is crucial, and unavailable through G-Cloud.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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