Thursday, 8 November 2012

Ministry of Defence Signs First Cloud Deal



The UK's Ministry of Defence (MoD) is now officially part of the cloud after signing a deal with Skyscape Cloud Services Limited to host their GEMS online system. The GEMS scheme is a tool whereby MoD and Armed Forces personnel will be able to make suggestions on improving the Ministry through online channels. The system isn't usable for reporting normal requisitions, materials shortage notifications, and design and procedure recommendations.

The contract between the two was awarded as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) contract, meaning Skyscape will probably provide most of the hardware as well as the virtual environment needed to operate the MoD's initial entry into the cloud.  The government will more than likely lease the hardware as part of the deal. In addition, the contract falls under the G-Cloud Framework, a program which allows for the implementation of low-cost utility services to UK government entities.

Although details have not been released it is assumed the GEMS system will be part of a group of managed services Skyscape will eventually provide through the cloud. That may include IT services and networking, or it may be limited to just the GEMS system for the time being. More details will probably emerge as the cloud is gradually deployed.

According to Skyscape CEO Phil Dawson his company is a UK SME specialising in cloud services for the public sector. He said his company was honoured that the MoD would put enough confidence in them to purchase their cloud services. The only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not the company can adequately meet the needs of the MoD to the extent they will expand beyond just the GEMS system.

Dawson further asserted there is significant opportunity for UK SMEs to provide cloud computing and datacentre services to government entities. Those that are up to the task have the opportunity to really move the cloud forward not only in the UK, but across Europe.

Benefits Both Ways

The deal between the MoD and Skyscape is one that benefits both partners significantly. From the perspective of the MoD, they'll have the opportunity to be introduced to the cloud through system that is not necessarily mission-critical but which could really show off the potential of cloud computing. It's a nice way for them to get their feet wet before totally committing.

Skyscape also benefits because it gives them an important feather to put in their cap. Being able to list the MoD as a client instantly gives their company credibility and leverage. Expect Skyscape to take full advantage of the contract for marketing purposes.

In terms of the cloud environment as a whole, getting the government involved as a customer is good for everyone. There have been plenty of new stories recently reporting on the government's push of the cloud in the UK. Combined with private sector involvement from companies like Skyscape, there's real chance the goals for cloud expansion will be achieved.

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