Defra signs new AWS contract worth £20 million | IT PRO

Defra signs new AWS contract worth £20 million | IT PRO

The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has renewed its contract with Amazon Web Services (AWS) for the provisioning of cloud services.

The new contract is worth $25 million (£20.8 million), according to a contract awarded to AWS by the government. It was signed on 22 December 2022 and only made public on 6 March 2023.

Defra is contracted to benefit from AWS’ cloud hosting, software management services, and employee training as part of the agreement.

The agreement started on 1 January 2023 and lasts for three years, the same as the previous one which was worth £3.5 million – six times less than the latest deal’s value, according to PublicTechnology.

Defra will allocate at least $4.7 million (£3.9 million) each year towards AWS’ cloud services but expects the value to triple over the course of the three years. 

The deal is part of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) known as the One Government Value Agreement unveiled in November 2020. This is an agreement signed between AWS and the Crown Commercial Service (CCS).

Its aim was to help the government’s digital transformation efforts and boost digital skills. As part of this, AWS was set to create a digital skills fund which would train more than 6,000 civil servants in cloud computing skills.

Through the agreement, it also offered public sector customers an 18% discount on AWS’ hosting services, as reported in May 2021. An extra 2% was also discounted if services are paid for upfront, with more than £300 million in contracts already awarded at the time through the agreement.

IT Pro has contacted Defra and AWS for comment.

Defra’s IT struggles

A report from the National Audit Office (NAO) in December 2022 found that 30% of Defra’s software was outdated and risky, exposing the public sector to cyber attacks.

The department estimated that around 76% of its digital, data, and tech spend is also spent on these legacy systems. The NAO also found that the department’s digital transformation efforts were lacking.

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In April 2021, rival cloud firm Microsoft also signed a three-year MoU with the government to assist public sector organisations with cloud computing.

It enabled these organisations to use Microsoft 365, Azure, Dynamics 365, and Power Platform and receive discounts. The agreement is between Microsoft and the CCS and is set to expire in April 2024. 

AWS secured a deal to provide cloud services to GCHQ, MI5, and MI6 in October 2021. The spy agencies were reportedly looking to make use of the cloud giant’s artificial intelligence and data analytics tools.

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