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21/04/2021

Microsoft has signed a fresh Memorandum of Understanding with the UK government to sell cloud services and biz apps at pre-agreed discounts amid accusations it is stifling the resale of excess on-premises software licences in the public sector.

Microsoft renews cloud contracts with UK.gov amid ongoing legal spat with on-prem licence reseller

Microsoft has signed a fresh Memorandum of Understanding with the UK government to sell cloud services and biz apps at pre-agreed discounts amid accusations it is stifling the resale of excess on-premises software licences in the public sector.

The MOU, specifically known as the Digital Transformation Agreement 2021 (DTA21), is a three-year contract that runs from 1 May. It covers Microsoft 365, which includes products such as Teams, the current Azure Pricing Arrangement, as well as expanding for the first time into new areas such as Dynamics 365, Power Platform and other Business Applications.

Premier and Unified Support services are being wrapped into the agreement too, including Solutions Assessments and training courses designed to improve skills and promote use of Azure. DTA21 replaces DTA18.

Microsoft has not specified the level of discounts negotiated by Crown Commercial Services (CCS), the UK's largest procurement body, an Executive Agency of the Cabinet Office.

Philip Orumwense, commercial director and Chief Technology Procurement Officer at CCS, said: "This agreement recognises the significance of cloud computing to the UK public sector as it continues its digital transformation and aims to build back better. It is another example of CCS’s commitment to achieving outstanding commercial value for our customers across the public sector."

CCS told us: "There is no committed spend. Public sector organisations will budget for this spend in the usual way, and can access any MOU signed by CCS to get discounted pricing with the suppliers they choose. The eligibility criteria covers the vast majority of the UK public sector."

Back in 2013, the government launched its Cloud First policy and the direction of travel ever since has been obvious. In 2015, Microsoft made it clear to departments that buying its cloud wares would be cheaper than sticking with on-premises versions.

The policy was reviewed in 2019 and in 2020 the One Government Cloud Strategy was born. Microsoft was the first to sign up with new Azure pricing, and was followed by GoogleIBMHPEUKCloud, and AWS.

In a canned statement, Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer, said: "This new agreement with Microsoft builds on the Government's One Government Cloud Strategy, which supports the key principle of treating government as one single customer. It shows the Government's determination to drive transformation as well as 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."

DTA21 includes Teams, 365 E5 Security and Compliance, Phone System Calling, Dynamics 365, PowerApps, Azure Cognitive Services and AI, Azure Analytics, Azure Synapse, and Azure Arc.

The thinking, Microsoft said, is to prepare the British public sector to "improve the management of hybrid and multi-cloud and support the transition from legacy IT to cloud."

However, not everyone is happy with the setup. Last month, The Register revealed that reseller ValueLicensing is suing Microsoft over claims it has restricted competition by adding clauses into contracts that prevent customers from reselling their excess licences

 

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