UK Data Center Partner Needed By Government

The UK government’s Cabinet Office and Government Digital Service announced in July that they are looking for a partner to help manage UK data centers hosting official and top secret data for the government starting in 2015.

The four-year contract is valued between $85 million and $1 billion. It specifies that the chosen UK data center service provider meet a list of requirements as well as provide servers, networks and cabling. The contract is open to applications from any providers within the UK who have the experience and ability to handle secure data.

“The operating environment is to be capable of housing computer infrastructure that initially handles information with UK government security classification ‘official’, but there may be a future requirement for data center colocation services that handle information with ‘secret’ and ‘top secret’ security classification,” read a government document on the partnership. “The provision of secret and top secret [data] would be subject to separate security accreditation and security classification.”

Government contract comes with many requirements 
The official tender for the partnership mentions that the government will need multiple data centers, but does not specify if the provider would be able to offer existing space in colocation environments or have to build new facilities. The required data center will be expected to house rack space, power facilities, network and security services, as well as take up an area of around 3,700 square feet. The tender also notes that the chosen data center partner will be required to deliver reliable services that are cost-effective, secure, efficient and of a high quality. The provider will also be asked to supply N+1 operational capacity and floor space for at least 150 standard 42u racks. Additionally, the requirements suggest the data center should be located in the Northeast like that of Cobalt Data Centres in Newcastle which also provides the entire breadth of services required.

The anticipated move is part of the government’s Cloud First Policy that aims to migrate public sector applications to the cloud. As part of this initiative, the partner chosen to manage the included data centers will need to have the ability to provide scalable, service-based models to allow for the transfer of suitable applications to the cloud. However, large amounts of old data that cannot be transitioned to cloud-based platforms are still kept by the government, meaning that the provider maintaining the information will also be required to host legacy applications.

In order to most effectively facilitate the partnership, the UK government is creating a limited company known as DatacenterCo. Whoever is awarded the contract will hold 75 percent of the company, while the government will control the remaining 25 percent.