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September 21, 2018updated 24 Sep 2018 8:38am

Iceland to Microsoft: “You Can Host Our Entire Public Sector”

"We thought it might be a good idea to collect all those licenses to a central point"

By CBR Staff Writer

The country of Iceland has signed a deal that will make Microsoft the sole IT supplier for its entire public sector. The decision marks the first time that a country has agreed to work with just one IT partner.

The agreement will see the country (population: 337,000) become the first nation to run all of its national services on one cloud-based platform, Microsoft Office 365, which will serve some 20,000 end-users.

Computer Business Review has asked Microsoft what is being used to ensure resilience in the event of issues with the company’s cloud provision. (Microsoft’s “where is your data located” tool suggests the nearest Office 365 data centre is in Finland.)

See also: Azure Outage as Lightning Strike Forces Data Centre Offline

Iceland’s Minister of Finance, Bjarni Benediktsson said: “One of the challenges we were faced with was the fact that our licenses were very much spread over in different institutions. [We had] more than 100 different suppliers, who were managed by more than 100 IT managers in each public institution…So we thought it might be a good idea to collect all those licenses to a central point.”

With the new contract, the entire public sector will run on Microsoft Office 365; one of the key objectives in the contract is to streamline operations while simplifying government IT operations.

Microsoft claimed that the decision will “provide numerous benefits”, including “the benefit of its security offerings being built directly into the state’s IT solution.”

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Microsoft Iceland: “A Paradigm Shift”

iceland

Iceland’s population is 337,000, with two-thirds of that living in or within the surrounding area of its capital Reykjavik.

Under the new deal with Microsoft Iceland’s central administration, health sector and educational institutions and the 20,000 public sector workers running these institutions will operate in one cloud infrastructure.

Peter Quarfordts Skov, Director of Public Sector at Microsoft Denmark & Iceland said in a release: “The contract with Microsoft marks a paradigm shift in the way we understand the public sector and public services.”

“As more countries digitize their public services, they experience an increase in demand from other institutions and employees as well as from citizens. This increases the need to streamline and strengthen services, products and processes, not to mention the level of security. Iceland is not afraid of being a front-runner, and that is quite admirable.”

See Also: Microsoft Buys AI Startup Lobe

Iceland’s minister for Finance Bjarni Benediktsson has emphasised the need for a system with better oversight and communication between the nations institutions and public sector workers: “Now with the new deal we think we’ve got all of these factors combined and as a special feature, we are very happy that our Icelandic language is included. This will help us protect and maintain the language,” Benediktsson added.

Earlier this year Vodafone announced that it would be building the tiny Island nation capital’s first large-scale data centre. The 5,000 sq. meter facility will support the country’s financial sector.

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