The Government is Open for Business

Written by Sacha Kavanagh, Co-founder and Senior Analyst, Scrutinise Research & Analysis Published 2016-10-20 11:15:00

Public sector organisations are facing unprecedented budgetary constraints at the same time that technology developments are driving change and we, the consumers of the services they provide, demand more sophisticated services that will fit in with our lifestyles. They must provide a secure, robust, high-speed IT infrastructure to support the provision of an increasing number of digital services, but the UK’s public sector data centre environment is still highly fragmented and characterised by outdated, inefficient and underutilised space and equipment.

Many public sector organisations have been reluctant to go down the colocation route, preferring to manage their own facility for security and other reasons, such as to get the best use out of existing resources, avoid laying off staff, and maintain (the illusion of) control over their infrastructure and the services they deliver.

And for some organisations that have invested to keep their data centres, equipment and staff up to date, owning that facility may still make commercial sense until it, too, reaches end of life. This is particularly true for an organisation with ample space, such as a large university campus, which might also be able to offer services to others to help fund the resource. However, they will also need a second site for disaster recovery and backup purposes, be that with a partner organisation or an external colocation provider.

But what about an inner city local authority or NHS hospital trust where real-estate costs are at a premium and salaries may be high?


Outsourcing the data centre operation will free up valuable resources that can be directed to providing the best services in the most cost effective way possible.


Public sector organisations are slowly losing the mentality that they must own and control their data centre environment, and that outsourcing to a reputable private operator will typically give them a much newer and more efficient facility with guaranteed service availability, a high degree of resilience, and security that is at least as good as – if not better than – that which they could provide themselves. They will simultaneously remove an often onerous capital burden and move to a flexible opex model, which will enable them to scale their data centre requirement to meet the changing needs of the organisation.


Such a move will enable a public sector body to reduce costs and improve operating efficiencies. It will likely also help reduce their carbon footprint and energy consumption, which is high on the public sector agenda.


The government’s G-Cloud procurement framework is helping public sector organisations make the move to third-party providers. Not only does the framework encourage the take-up of cloud-based services to enable the public sector to cut IT spending and improve efficiency, but it provides an online catalogue of approved service providers, their services, prices and a standard contract. Individual bodies do not have to go through a tender process, and they are assured that any provider on the framework has been through extensive government-approved due diligence.

Colocation is not a service on G-Cloud, but there are many suppliers on the framework which provide colocation services, VIRTUS included. Choosing a G-Cloud approved supplier means an organisation seeking a colocation provider will not need to go through costly, time-consuming checks to ensure the security and integrity of the operator and its data centre facilities. All the work has already been done.

The government took a further step to open up the government IT market to external suppliers in September 2016 with the publication of the ‘supplier standard’, a six-point business guide designed to help tech and IT companies do business with government. On announcing the guidelines, the new Minister for the Cabinet Office, Ben Gummer, reiterated the government’s commitment to move away from large-scale and long-term IT contracts towards more flexible and transparent transactions with ‘the best suppliers’, whatever their size.

So, government and colocation providers are both open for business. The end result must surely be lower costs and better services across the public sector.