MoD gets top billing as Microsoft Cloud makes UK debut
Department will use Office 365 and Azure and will be a key exemplar for public sector adoption of cloud services for digital and service transformation
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has become one of Microsoft’s standout public sector reference sites for its Office 365 and Azure services as the Microsoft Cloud opens today.
The MoD, which employs more than 230,000 people and currently spends over £3bn on its infrastructure every year, will use Office 365 and Azure cloud services, citing value for money and security as key reasons for the agreement.
Discussing the MoD's adoption of Office 365, the MoD’s chief digital and information officer Mike Stone said, "Microsoft's secure and transparent cloud service in the UK fits perfectly with the MOD's digital transformation agenda. This agreement, which is based on Microsoft's world-class reliability and performance, will allow us to deliver a cost-effective, modern and flexible information capabilities. It will ensure we are better-placed in our ever-changing, digital-first world."
The agreement is something of a mutual win for both Microsoft and the MoD. Microsoft gets a high profile public sector customer to highlight its Office 365 and Azure services. In return, the MoD gets star billing, which means it can push Microsoft hard to stretch the cloud services it is going to deliver for the MoD.
It’s clear Stone has support at the highest levels of Microsoft, right up to chief executive Satya Nadella. For example, the MoD has been able to push Microsoft to deliver asynchronous cloud for service delivery on submarines. It’s also evident the MoD is being far more ambitious than in previous incremental plans, with a current goal to roll out Office 365 within one calendar year to the entire department.
Microsoft is also targeting other parts of the public sector for Office 365 and Azure, notably the NHS and local authorities, for digital transformation.
Its key NHS reference site named today is South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the country's largest mental health trust.
The trust is aiming to use Microsoft’s products to support communication across its organisation - for example, with staff and services working in the community, including home visits, which require health specialists to work remotely.
Microsoft insisted that both large and smaller SME firms, including independent software vendors would benefit from its cloud offerings.
On Microsoft’s relationship with the MoD, Kable senior analyst Daniel Jones said under Stone, the MoD has adopted a more pragmatic attitude towards adoption of commercial ICT and cloud computing from a mobility and efficiency point of view.
“This is a win-win for Microsoft and the MoD. Microsoft has a perfect exemplar to demonstrate the benefits of 365, particularly in the public sector. In return, the MoD has been able to push Microsoft at the highest levels to deliver. For example, providing asynchronous cloud for service delivery on submarines. It also means that MoD has the highest support at executive level to push to get things done. If there are problems, it can say that this has Satya’s full support. That’s good leverage to get things done if there are any rollout problems.”
Jones added that Kable research suggested many areas of the public sector have held off from implementing their own cloud migration journey due to fears over data sovereignty and the complexity of transition from legacy environments. These fears may well be substantially allayed by the Microsoft-MoD announcement.