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UKCloud invests £25m in building secure cloud platform for top secret government data

Public sector-focused cloud provider has launched a standalone division, dubbed UKCloudX, to oversee its efforts to aid in the fight against cybe rcrime through the roll-out of its cloud platform

UKCloud is investing more than £25m in creating a secure cloud platform that will allow the defence sector to host top secret data, and share it with government agencies and private sector security firms.

The public sector-focused infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) provider has launched a standalone business division, dubbed UKCloudX, to support the venture, which is expect to see the company’s headcount increase by around 50 over the course of 2018.

At the launch of UKCloudX at the company’s Farnborough headquarters on 21 June 2018, UKCloud CEO Simon Hansford, said the initiative is proof of the company’s commitment to helping the government fight cyber crime in all its forms.

“We believe national security is a collective responsibility. When Theresa May spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January, she stressed the need for technology companies to do more in stepping up to their own responsibilities in dealing with harmful and illegal online activities,” he said.

“We believe UKCloudX demonstrates UKCloud’s own commitment to doing the right thing, to stepping up to our responsibilities, and – in doing so – helping to make our nation a safer place.”

During a press Q&A session at the event, the company’s CTO, Leighton James, said the platform is still in the throes of being built, but should go-live by the end of 2018.

“For the past two years, we’ve been working on the business case and the business plan for this investment, and a lot of that has been market engagement and testing with the customer community and the partner community,” said James.

“There will be an initial operating capability by the end of the year, [when] the first customers will physically be able to run things on that platform.”

From that point onwards, the plan is to spend 2019 building out the capabilities of the platform, added James.

“You [will] see a roadmap of us taking that initial operating capability and enriching it with multi-cloud, and more capabilities,” he said.

The intention is that, as well as being able to fulfil the defence community’s “traditional” application hosting requirements, this will in due course allow them to take advantage of newer, emerging technologies, including robotics and the internet of things (IoT).

“We’re trying to disrupt and bring a new way of working, in a sphere that is very traditional and very siloed, and there are very clear rules as to how one operates infrastructure at this level,” said James.

“We have to play by the rules, but those rules were written in an era that some of the technologies and some of the approaches have moved on from.”

The launch of UKCloudX marks another step in the G-Cloud-listed firm’s efforts to diversify its service offering by rolling out offerings that are more closely tailored to specific public sector use cases.

To date this has seen the organisation launch a standalone business division, centred on providing a tailored cloud platform to NHS Trusts and life science researchers through its UKCloud Health initiative, which launched in May 2017.

During the launch event, Hansford revealed UKCloud Health now accounts for 23% of the company’s overall business.

More recently, it also set out plans to create a standalone Microsoft Azure Stack region for public sector organisations that want to adopt a hybrid cloud strategy, expanding the range of enterprise and cloud-native applications the company is now able to offer support for.

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