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UK government aims to save £105 million with data centre consolidation

Fri 20 Mar 2015

The UK government has announced hard-launch for a long-discussed initiative to consolidate disparate government IT storage and data centre technology into a single managed provision solution, in which it will retain a 25% stake.

The Crown will work with private provider Ark Data Centres Limited to form ‘Crown Hosting Data Centres’ (CHDC), a centralised data centre solution whose establishment was recently released from a stipulation that it be located within 50 miles of existing government HP data centres near Newcastle.

“As part of this government’s long term economic plan,” said Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude “we’re determined to utilise our unique buying power and become a more intelligent customer… 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,”

Though the first departments to utilise the new services will be the Highways Agency, the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions, CHDC will be available to all bodies within the public sector.

The CHDC provision is being arranged for those applications, services or data which are unsuitable for the government’s GCloud scheme, though no details have been given about whether such unsuitability is generally technical or security-focused.

A cabinet office statement explains the rationale behind the project, which had originally been mooted to save £530mn annually: “In the past, individual departments paid different amounts to either build their own centres or outsource the service as part of their own locked-in IT contracts. This deal will, for the first time, provide a cross-government approach to buying data hosting services. It will also allow government to tap into the latest advances in industry and improve energy efficiency – using datacentres that are equipped with the latest technological advancements such as real-time dynamic cooling and unique monitoring systems, all within secure compounds,”

Ark has its HQ in London’s Wardour Street, but its central operations in Wiltshire and Hampshire.

The UK government was reported in 2013 to have spent £1.6bn in variegated hosting contracts. Steve Hall, CEO of Crown Hosting Data Centres said: “The joint venture company will simplify the data centre services selection process in government and further drive the unbundling of large legacy contracts,”

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