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UK government secures Microsoft Azure discounts for public sector

Procurement chiefs at the Crown Commercial Service have secured an addendum to a long-standing Microsoft preferential pricing deal that now includes Azure public cloud services

The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has signed a non-binding pricing arrangement with Microsoft so that eligible public sector organisations can now receive discounted pricing on various Azure public cloud offerings.

The arrangement is designed to build on the long-standing Digital Transformation Agreement (DTA) memorandum of understanding (MoU) that has existed between the CCS and Microsoft since March 2018 and is due to conclude in April 2021.

It is being billed by the pair as an addendum to the previous arrangement, which did not cover Azure services, so will enable eligible public sector organisations to secure preferential pricing and conditions of use benefits for the Microsoft public cloud platform for three years.

The agreement also includes Microsoft’s online business productivity suite, Office 365, and its Teams videoconferencing service, as well as the software giant’s cloud-based artificial intelligence, data analytics and big data offerings.

The pricing and benefits on these products will be made available to public sector organisations that have a pre-existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement in place, or are setting up a new one.

Simon Tse, CEO of the CCS, the organisation responsible for overseeing the government’s procurement activities, said the deal was geared towards ensuring the public sector can get access to the IT services it needs in the most cost-effective way.

“CCS provides commercial agreements which help organisations across the entire public sector save time and money on buying everyday goods and services,” sad Tse. “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.”

Gareth Rhys Williams, UK government chief commercial officer, said the deal also ensures that public sector organisations can procure the IT they need, while abiding by the public sector-focused, cloud-first policy guidance.

“It shows the government’s determination to adopt value-for-money technologies that improve services and ensure government departments and their staff have the digital tools they need, now and in the future,” he added.

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According to the CCS’s own Digital Marketplace data, which tracks purchases of products and services through the G-Cloud procurement framework, the public sector has spent almost £75m on Microsoft products since records began in 2012.

However, it is not clear from the data how much of that spend has included Azure-related purchases, although spending on Microsoft cloud products overall has picked up markedly in the public sector since the opening of the software giant’s UK datacentres in September 2016.

Chris Perkins, general manager for public sector sales at Microsoft UK, said: “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.”

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