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Crown Commercial Service backs Huddle's public sector-wide preferential pricing scheme

Cloud-based collaboration platform provider hopes enterprise pricing scheme will make it easier and less costly for public sector to adopt its technology

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The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has given Huddle the go-ahead to offer public sector organisations access to preferential pricing when purchasing its software via the G-Cloud framework.

The deal means public sector IT buyers will no longer be limited to buying the firm’s cloud-based collaboration software on a per user, per month basis, which – for organisations with a high number of seats – can work out costly.

Huddle's head of public sector for Europe, Mike Hayward, told Computer Weekly this has fuelled demands from public sector users for an alternative enterprise licensing-style purchasing scheme for its technology.

“The nature of collaboration is that – over time – more and more people get involved with a piece of work and the footprint of Huddle users tends to grow,” he said.

“What we’ve seen over the past three to four years is that some of our larger public sector customers are now getting to a point where they have hundreds or thousands of licenses and buying under a cost per user model isn’t cost effective.”

So, rather than purchase one license per user, public sector organisations can now enter into an enterprise-wide licensing agreement covering every single employee within a government department, local council or NHS trust.

“We have a number of different license types available through G-Cloud, but if people wanted 100 users they would buy 100 user licenses at a particular price per user, per month,” said Hayward.

“This stands to bring the cost per user for Huddle down and make the administration of the platform easier.”

As well as people working within the organisation, the licensing agreement can also be extended to include external third parties, paving the way for wider collaboration with other departments or government agencies.

This should also help accelerate adoption of its tools within local authorities and NHS trusts, Hayward said.

Particularly as local authorities embark on money-saving shared service agreements with neighbouring councils, and NHS organisations find themselves having to take on responsibility for dealing with a wider range of health and social care issues, requiring them to work with multiple agencies.

“We’ve got a good strong footprint in central government,” said Hayward, who claimed that its tools are now used by more than 80% of Whitehall departments.

“In terms of new account wins and new areas, the health and local authority market is going to be particularly strong in growth over the coming years, and the enterprise licensing option offers them quite a lot of flexibility regarding how to procure Huddle.”

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Safe Harbour boosts public sector awareness of data location issues

Aside from flexible licensing terms, Hayward claimed the company’s earlier decision to invest in UK datacentres is standing it in good stead now, as the fallout from the recent Safe Harbour ruling focuses the minds of public sector procurement managers on data sovereignty issues.

“One of the things that differentiates us from not only the major players like Microsoft and Google, but some of the smaller ones that make their way into public sector through shadow IT like Dropbox, is our guaranteed UK data residency,” he said.

“The Safe Harbour ruling helps us as it calls into question some of the other players that are used in government departments, but aren’t necessarily sanctioned for use. Sensitive information can be stored in these areas and is not necessarily something the information governance people inside an organisation need or want.”

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