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Government predicts £100m saving with new data centre deal

The government has launched a new joint business venture with SME Ark Data Centres (opens in new tab) to host government computer servers.

Crown Hosting Data Centres will provide public bodies with a physical space to host their computer servers and systems that aren’t in the cloud.

Previously, individuals Departments needed to pay different amounts to either build their own data centres or outsource the service via their own locked-in IT contracts.

According to Whitehall, the new venture will provide a cross-government approach to buying data hosting services for the first time.

It estimates that by utilising the government’s combined buying power, it can save up to £105m for the tax payer in IT costs.

Crown Hosting Data Centres is also expected to allow government to tap into the latest advances in industry and improve energy efficiency by using centres equipped with the latest technological advancements including real time dynamic cooling and unique monitoring systems.

All of Whitehall and the public sector will have access to the new solution and the three initial customers are the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP (opens in new tab)), the Home Office (opens in new tab) and the Highways Agency (opens in new tab).

Each will be able to use the service on a ‘pay for what you use’ basis in an attempt to avoid the risk of being locked into long-term, inflexible contracts.

“As part of this government’s long term economic plan, we’re determined to utilise our unique buying power and become a more intelligent customer,” claimed Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude (opens in new tab).

“It doesn’t make sense for Departments to host their servers in different ways and at different costs and in the past, Whitehall wasn’t even sure how many of these datacentres there were.

“With this new joint venture, we will save millions and be able to access the necessary commercial and technical skills in the market to create a thriving new business that will deliver better service and allow government to share in its future success,” Maude added.

But what about cloud first?

Government CTO Liam Maxwell (opens in new tab) has written a post on the Government Technology blog (opens in new tab) further explaining why Crown Hosting Data Centres is a necessary step, despite the Cloud First Policy (opens in new tab).

“The Cloud First Policy will see most of our applications migrate to the cloud. As the policy says, public sector organisations should consider and fully evaluate potential cloud solutions first – before they consider any other option,” Maxwell claimed.

“However, we do have some hosting arrangements that cannot make this transition to the cloud in the short to medium term.

“This tin forms a legacy estate that requires some form of on-going hosting provision and Crown Hosting Data Centres will provide a secure and cost effective home for those applications,” he added.