What are Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs)?

Throughout 2020, the Crown Commercial Service has been signing Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with major Cloud providers, to help accelerate the adoption of Cloud Services within the UK public sector. With the UK Government releasing an updated Cloud guide for the public sector in March 2020, this reaffirms their position on becoming “Public Cloud First”. By definition, this policy ensures that when procuring new or existing services, public sector organisations should consider and fully evaluate potential Cloud solutions first before considering any other option. 

As part of the One Government Cloud Strategy (OGCS), the Crown Commercial Service has sought to implement MoUs with multiple Cloud service providers, to implement a common Cloud procurement process. These MoUs aim to set out special terms and pricing for Cloud Service Provider products and services which the provider will then make available to all public sector organisations, effectively maximising the value of total government spend. The first MoU to be signed was back in April, with Microsoft agreeing a non-binding Azure Pricing Arrangement (APA) with the Crown Commercial Service, to provide discounted pricing and beneficial terms for public sector organisations wishing to move to Azure Cloud. This allows public sector organisations to use Microsoft technologies that use Azure Cloud Services, such as Windows Virtual Desktop, Azure Cognitive Services, Azure Analytics, Azure Synapse and more. This Azure pricing agreement will run for up to 3 years. 

Most recently, AWS signed a MoU with the Crown Commercial Service at the start of November 2020. AWS’s agreement aims to accelerate adoption of Cloud within the UK Public Sector whilst saving taxpayer money, boosting digital skills across the civil service, and increasing the diversity of suppliers to the government by helping more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to take part in public sector contracts. 

The MoU will result in greater cost savings for the public sector (similar to large commercial customers) and represents value through services. This also strengthens AWS’s contribution of suppliers to public sector organisations, as services can be contracted through qualified AWS Partner Network (APN) suppliers. AWS is currently the largest G-Cloud framework service provider, with more than 150 companies having used AWS to provide services to the UK Government. 

Other organisations to have signed MoUs include Google Cloud, IBM, and UKCloud.