The government has announced a new data centre business that aims to save the public sector £105m in IT costs over the next seven years.
Crown Hosting Data Centres is the name given to the joint venture between the government and Ark Data Centres, a company specialising in data centre construction.
A spokesperson for Ark Data Centres told V3 that depending on the uptake of the data centre services, the venture could be worth between £50m and £700m for the SME.
Crown Hosting Data Centres will provide public-sector bodies with hosting space for their servers and systems not hosted in a public cloud.
This will negate the need for them to build their own data centres or outsource their systems through their own dedicated IT contracts.
Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said the new business will establish a cross-government approach to buying server hosting space and will save taxpayers millions by harnessing the public-sector's combined purchasing power.
"As part of this government's long-term economic plan, we're determined to utilise our unique buying power and become a more intelligent customer," he said.
"It doesn't make sense for departments to host their servers in different ways and at different costs, and in the past Whitehall wasn't even sure how many of these centres there were.
"With this new joint venture, we will save millions and be able to access the necessary commercial and technical skills in the market to create a thriving new business that will deliver better services and allow government to share in its future success."
The Department for Work and Pensions, the Home Office, and the Highways Agency will be the first departments to make use of the new service, though it will be opened up to all of government and the wider public sector.
Crown Hosting Data Centres will offer the three departments a "pay for what you use" service, rather than lock them into long-term contracts that lack flexibility.
This re-enforces the government's commitment to move away from lengthy contracts made with private-sector IT suppliers, notably Fujitsu.
While the government has its ‘Cloud First' policy, which aims to get public sector applications pushed into the cloud, data regulations and legacy system requirements mean some applications cannot be hosted in the cloud.
Crown Hosting Data Centres cloud help to bridge this gap by providing dedicated and effectively outsourced data centre space without requiring public cloud use.
The creation of a new data centre business appears to tally with the government-as-a-platform approach, launched by Maude at Sprint 15, which aims to create a set of common components and standards that can be used across the public sector when creating new public services.
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