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January 13, 2016updated 31 Aug 2016 10:19am

The Great British data centre take off: 4 UK councils investing in data centres

List: Despite central government plans for a nation-wide G-Cloud programme, some councils still prefer to go solo.

By Joao Lima

Under the growing number of digital services needed to keep the UK’s government machine working, there are councils up and down the country betting on their own data centres – building, expanding and making big outsourcing moves.

The central government gave the example when, in March last year, it awarded Ark Data Centres with a £700 million Crown Hosting contract. The agreement with the Cabinet Office was on the basis that the colo would provide public bodies with a space to host their physical infrastructure.

Steve Webb, Ark Data Centres CIO, told CBR: "It all comes back to how the central and local governments run their public spending budget. A lot of DCs that are in central and local governments are still in old environments."

CBR lists five local council data centre ventures.


1. Solihull

In West Midlands, Solihull Metropolitan Council has embarked on a solo-data centre venture topping £1 million in investment.

The council has tasked Secure IT Environments to build the facility.

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The data centre, measuring 390sqm in total, is an essential part of the Council’s IT infrastructure, housing servers and storage equipment that run software, process and store data for the organisation, according to the company.

The site is expected to improve the council’s energy efficiency and also digital services. Solihull Council said: "The new data centre is key to ensuring business continuity for all services within the Council. It will help us to reduce energy consumption and provide a cost effective solution for the future.


2. South Lanarkshire

In Scotland, South Lanarkshire Council has not one but two data centres. The council has tasked Bull Information Systems with the running of the sites, in a £8 million contract set to last until June 30, 2021.

The company will be managing the infrastructure, core business applications, servers and storage. Responsible for both data centres, Bull Information Systems will also run remote monitoring to track any issues with the sites’ IT infrastructure.

The contract will see Bull Information Systems help the South Lanarkshire Council to deliver its IT strategy in the future, by delivering the server and storage needed..

The council said the venture will "help the council improve its service offerings and provide greater business agility", reported ComputerworldUK.


3. Oxford

Back in England, Oxford City Council awarded SCC, an independent IT services business, a ten-year contract to deliver data centre hosting, server and storage.

The contract, which can be extended for another five years, also tasked SC with offering server technical support, database administration and network security infrastructure and support.

The outsourcing scheme was put together to deliver cost-savings of more than £150k per annum which can be reassigned to the delivery of public services.

Oxford opted for SCC as its infrastructure partner, Sentinel by SCC, is a multi-tenanted cloud platform built specifically for the public sector, which the council will use for Data Centre Hosting.


4. Southend-on-Sea

In Essex, Southend-on-Sea council is planning to invest £1.5 million in a hybrid cloud data centre, according to The Register.

A contract advertisement published by the council on December 16, 2015, shows that the council is looking "to appoint a provider to supply, install, commission and test a hybrid cloud data centre capability".

The provider will be responsible for specifying the design and components to be used and warrant the operation of the solution once it is implemented.

In the ad, the council says that it will make separate arrangements for the running of the hub, however "should these involve outsourced services, the provider of this contract will be eligible to tender for such services".

The institution said the Hybrid Cloud Data Centre SBC will contribute to its Digital Strategy of improving local digital services.


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