The Crown Commercial Service has signed a new non-binding Azure Pricing Arrangement (APA) with Microsoft to provide discounted pricing and beneficial terms for eligible public sector organisations to use the Azure cloud.
The new APA has been agreed as an addendum to the existing Digital Transformation Arrangement (DTA) Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Microsoft and the Crown Commercial Service, which was signed in 2018 and runs until April 2021. The DTA has featured packages around cloud security and compliance, as well as Office 365, Teams video conferencing and Windows 10.
The MoUs between Microsoft and the UK government have increasingly focused on cloud services since the government launched its Cloud First Strategy in 2013. That plan advised public sector organisations looking to buy new or existing services to consider and fully evaluate public cloud solutions first, before considering any other option. The policy was reassessed in 2019 and remains a flagship technology policy.
The APA is now available to all eligible DTA public sector organisations, allowing them to secure these benefits for up to three years on existing or new Microsoft Enterprise Agreements.
The Azure platform supports business solutions that need AI, Analytics, Blockchain and Big Data to name but a few, to help drive innovation and accelerate digital transformation.
Gareth Rhys Williams, the government’s Chief Commercial Officer, said: “This agreement with Microsoft builds on the government’s Cloud First policy and incorporates key elements of the recent One Government Cloud Strategy. It shows the government’s determination to adopt value for money technologies which improve services and ensure government departments and their staff have the digital tools they need, now and in the future.”
The move will support existing eligible Azure customers in the public sector, who can continue to benefit from secure access to the public cloud to store data and receive discounts on services. It will also appeal to new organisations who either use multiple cloud providers or have a hybrid model – some data stored on their own servers and some in the public cloud.
The new APA covers products such as the Azure Cognitive Services and AI, Azure Analytics, Azure Synapse, Azure Arc and Azure Hybrid Benefits, which enable users to create new solutions, improve the management of their cloud services and help with the transition from legacy systems to cloud.
Simon Tse, Chief Executive of the Crown Commercial Service (CCS), the UK’s biggest public procurement organisation, said: “CCS provides commercial agreements which help organisations across the entire public sector save time and money on buying everyday goods and services. This agreement with Microsoft, is yet another example of our commitment to achieving outstanding commercial value for our customers, as they work to deliver essential services for UK citizens.”
The new APA also includes the opportunity for eligible public sector organisations to access implementation resources and training courses for public sector staff so they can learn new skills and unlock the benefits of using Azure. These include Microsoft FastTrack, Azure Migration Program and Technical Skills for Business.
Chris Perkins, General Manager of Public Sector Sales at Microsoft UK, said: “Microsoft is committed to working with the government to help support the One Government Cloud Strategy. The Azure cloud platform offers the security, scalability and resilience to help the public sector provide the services that citizens need in a cost-effective way. Today’s agreement caters for public sector organisations, regardless of where they are on their cloud journey, and Microsoft is looking forward to working with our customers to accelerate and unlock the benefits of moving to Azure.”