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AWS secures cloud hosting role in UK government Crown Marketplace programme

Amazon Web Services’ cloud platform to play key role in how public sector organisations procure common goods and services

Amazon Web Services’ grip on the UK public sector appears to be growing ever stronger, following news that its cloud platform is being used to host part of the Cabinet Office’s Crown Marketplace portal.

A Telegraph report states that the cloud service giant’s public cloud platform is being used to host the foundation stage of the Crown Marketplace platform, which is being built by government IT design consultancy Dxw Digital.

The Crown Marketplace is part of a push by government procurement chiefs at the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) to overhaul how public sector organisations procure common goods and services by introducing an Amazon-style marketplace.

The CCS, which is overseeing development of the Crown Marketplace, is understood to have jointly agreed with Dxw to proceed with building and hosting the portal in the AWS cloud, the Telegraph report claims.

The consultancy is in the midst of a six-month deal with CCS to deliver the foundation stage of the Crown Marketplace, having secured the contract – valued at more than £605,000 – in September 2018.

Meanwhile, Computer Weekly understands that AWS’s involvement in the project is set to run for at least two years, with an end date for the contract stated as 23 September 2020.

According to the contract award notice, the scope of Dxw’s work on the project includes digitising and streamlining the paper-based processes that public sector users have to follow when buying common goods and services through five of the CCS’s commercial agreements.  

These agreements span facilities management, management consultancy, legal services, agency supply teachers and apprenticeship training services, and the outcome of this project will – the CCS hopes – lay the foundations for the broader Crown Marketplace to be built.

A CCS spokesperson told Computer Weekly in a statement that AWS is just one of many providers CCS relies on to deliver its various technology programmes. 

Read more about public sector cloud

“The Crown Commercial Service technology programme involves many different services, partners and activities,” it said. “As a G-Cloud provider, Amazon Web Services was engaged to provide just one part of that programme – its hosting services.

“Other suppliers have and will continue to be contacted to support the government as the programme progresses.”

News of AWS’s involvement in the deal comes ahead of Amazon’s grilling by the House of Lords Communications Committee today (8 January).

During the session, Amazon’s director of public policy for the UK and Ireland, Lesley Smith, is expected to field questions about internet regulation and cloud computing-related topics.

Since the opening of AWS’s UK datacentre region in December 2016, the company has seen a marked rise in the number of government and public sector cloud contracts coming its way.

Before the region opened, the firm had secured a modest £2.93m in IT spend through the government’s G-Cloud procurement framework, since it began in 2012. Since December 2016, this figure has, according to the government’s own spend data, increased to £46.15m.

Read more on Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

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