NHS Education for Scotland defends ‘decade-long’ public cloud deal with AWS

An NHS Scotland training overall body has strike again at accusations that a decade-prolonged cloud deal signed with Amazon Website Companies (AWS) around twelve months back is anti-innovation, anti-aggressive and puts the organisation at superior-hazard of lock-in.

The £15m deal was awarded to AWS by NHS Education and learning for Scotland (NES) in April 2020, but the deal award discover was only designed community in early Could 2021. Given that then the aspects of the deal have been the subject of a lot critique in just the government IT provider local community, Computer system Weekly has uncovered.

Quite a few customers of the IT provider local community expressed their misgivings about the deal, on situation of anonymity, to Computer system Weekly with a lot of the criticism they shared focusing on the “extraordinary” length of the deal. As said in the unique tender, the deal is set to run for 120 months.

In accordance to the complainants Computer system Weekly has spoken to, the contracts phrases are “anti-competitive” and “completely out of step” with how community sector cloud contracts are anticipated to be conducted.

“We now have a monopoly that has locked in a community sector organisation for 10 years and locked out the level of competition for 10 years, such as the British isles tech current market and SMEs,” 1 provider instructed Computer system Weekly.  

The British isles government’s various cloud procurement frameworks restrict the length of contracts to a optimum of five years on the basis that shorter deal phrases make it a lot easier for community sector purchasers to up grade their know-how stacks as necessary, when fostering a aggressive natural environment for suppliers – specially SMEs – to function in.

Against this context, Rob Anderson, principal analyst for central government at investigation business GlobalData, stated he understands why the deal length is boosting eyebrows.

“Ten years is ridiculously prolonged for a cloud deal since the [know-how] natural environment is shifting so swiftly,” he instructed Computer system Weekly.

“When the British isles government’s G-Cloud procurement framework was set up in 2012, the optimum deal term was two years. And even however the tech has matured, the deal phrases now are nevertheless now only three to five years on the Cloud Compute Framework the government announced recently.”  

In a assertion to Computer system Weekly, an NES spokesperson performed down the contract’s length. “It is not always for 10 years: there are break details in the course of that time period if demanded.”

In accordance to resources who participated in the procurement system, the deal with AWS initially operates for five years, but there is an option to prolong it by a additional five years devoid of needing to re-tender the deal.  

Even with these phrases in area, the mother nature of what NES will be working with AWS for suggests it is liable to discover it challenging to migrate to a distinct hosting supplier must it have to have to afterwards down the line, claimed 1 provider, which could stifle the organisation’s means to innovate in upcoming.

“Any financial savings designed by shifting the hosting supplier, for case in point, would be massively negated by the costs of rewriting the programs [hosted on best of it]. So are the NES break clauses significant? I feel not,” they included.

In response to claims the deal is anti-innovation, the NES spokesperson stated the platform does make it possible for for other suppliers to create features on best of the underlying AWS infrastructure, which will foster innovation and deliver a way in for other events afterwards down the line.

“The probable for innovation is much less about which cloud supplier is remaining utilized, and additional about what can be designed on best of the platform. We search ahead to discovering this with other suppliers in the upcoming,” the spokesperson included.

Plotting out the route to procurement

AWS is identified to have commenced get the job done on the job in April 2020, but suppliers have queried why it took till twelve Could 2021 for Amazon to be publicly named as NES’s preferred cloud supplier.

“It is normal apply for there to be a delay involving awarding a deal and publishing the aspects, when we get the job done out the aspects of how the deal and companies will be structured,” the NES assertion included. “The increased time on this celebration was a feature of the unparalleled tension that all NHS companies have been underneath.”

The NES also favoured a “competitive procedure with negotiation” procurement system for this deal, which has also been called into issue by suppliers provided that it is deemed to be an “onerous and complex” technique of procuring companies that can establish off-placing to SMEs.

“It is a procedure that is normally reserved for outsourcing-style arrangements,” yet another provider included.

The deal award discover confirms that two unnamed suppliers had been also in the operating for the deal alongside AWS, but none of the bids the tender garnered had been submitted by SMEs.

In accordance to the Scottish government’s Procurement Journey internet site, the aggressive procedure with negotiation procurement system is made so community sector organisations can clarify the submissions they have received with the bidders at the time they have received a “fully-formed initial tender”.

“You must use this procedure if you are not able to determine how to satisfy your wants technically and/or you simply cannot specify the legal or economic specifications of your deal,” the internet site included, ahead of citing that it can be utilized for “complex purchases” involving “major data and communication know-how tools”.

In its assertion to Computer system Weekly, the NES spokesperson stated the use of this procurement system is commonplace throughout NHS Scotland.

“This is a typical method throughout NHS Scotland, pursuing Scottish government recommendations, aimed at searching for the right supplier at most effective benefit for income,” the assertion included.

“This deal was awarded in April 2020 pursuing community deal recommendations and searching for most effective benefit for taxpayers’ income.”

AWS stated it has no comment to make at this time.