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Crown Hosting and Fujitsu urge SIs to rethink approach to public sector IT in cloud era

Crown Hosting and Fujitsu claim shift away from large, multi-year outsourcing deals is a change some systems integrators are intent on ignoring

The system integrator (SI) community must get to grips with the fact that they are no longer the dominant force in government IT that they once were, and should stop trying to steer public sector buyers towards outsourcing deals.

That’s the view of Steve Hall, CEO of Crown Hosting Data Centres, which was set up in March 2015 to provide public sector organisations with a centralised colocation hub to house their non-cloud datacentre services.

The organisation is run as a joint venture between colocation provider Ark Data Centres and the Cabinet Office, and, according to Hall, has about 40 clients making use of its services at present, with 100 or so waiting in the wings to move their workloads and infrastructure into its facilities.  

Despite the government’s well-publicised push to get public sector IT buyers to use cloud and lean more on the SME community to fulfil their IT requirements, some members of the systems integrator community are still intent on going against the grain by attempting to lock departments into large, multi-year outsourcing deals, he claimed.  

“Some of the systems integrators we’ve had conversations with are not interested in understanding the needs of the customers who are on this digital journey, and they don’t want to put a service in place to help them migrate their legacy [IT] into Crown Hosting or applications that are fit to go into the cloud,” said Hall.

“There are some [public sector organisations] that are able and prepared to manage the journey [to the cloud] themselves and some absolutely do need the help of an [outside] organisation, and the big SIs are turning up and trying everything to steer them back to the course of outsourcing everything to them.”

Hall made his comments on the eve of the launch of Fujitsu’s new consultancy services, which will see the IT service provider offer support and advice to public sector IT departments on how to manage their organisation’s move to the cloud, and migration of workloads to Crown Hosting.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Greg McDaid, head of public sector and transport at Fujitsu UK and Ireland, said the service’s launch is, in part, an acknowledgement that the days of systems integrators being the “defacto owner” of public sector IT are over.

“As a large SI, we felt that in order to deliver a high level of service to customers and to be able to practically manage it, we had to be able to control and manage these things [ourselves], but the world has changed,” he said.

“And, in recent times, the days when a provider was the defacto owner of all services in a public sector department are also over.”

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This is a trend Fujitsu has first-hand experience of, as the government has wound down a number of outsourcing contracts it held with the supplier in recent years, including a longstanding engagement with the Home Office.

“It may seem curious that Fujitsu, the company with the perception of being the large, boring, lumbering giant of the public sector IT world, will come out and that we need to stop doing some of the things we used to do, and start encouraging  the public sector to use Crown Hosting,” said McDaid.

“One of the things I would like to see in Fujitsu, within our public sector organisation, is us getting back to the core principle that we are here to serve those who serve and not for it to be about us.

“Where I’m determined to push our organisation towards is… helping public sector organisations take advantage of the tsunami of digital technologies that is coming their way at the moment.”

The Fujitsu service will be available to buy through the G-Cloud and Technology Services 2 procurement frameworks, and will see the firm work with organisations to audit their IT estates, so they can start making decisions about where best to run their applications, workloads and infrastructure.

Jamie Whysall, frameworks manager at Fujitsu, said that for any digital transformation project to be successful, organisations can ill afford to consider any piece of the technology puzzle in isolation.

“We will be working with the public sector organisations across central government and local authorities, helping them understand how their current estate will transform into their future estate – and that includes an element of Crown Hosting,” he said. “It is a critical part of most departments’ transition to a digital environment, but is not something that can be looked at in isolation.”

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