In these rapidly changing times, it is more important than ever for the public sector to be able to respond to new opportunities, threats, and innovate and transform for the future.

Moving to the cloud means organisations can take advantage of new technology such as AI, intelligent security, and improve resilience and scalability. The UK Government has taken a public cloud first policy and has recently reaffirmed this approach in its new Cloud Guide for PS.

In order to keep providing great experiences for citizens, empowering employees with real-time information, and optimise and streamline services and operations, the public sector needs to adopt hyper-scale public cloud capabilities. Azure has been used to help police tackle crimes, support NHS Trusts with AI, and support social care.

Improving access to cloud capabilities

We want the public sector to have access to these capabilities in Azure. This is why we’ve worked closely with the Crown Commercial Service to agree a new non-binding Azure Pricing Arrangement (APA). It builds on the recently announced One Government Cloud Strategy and Cloud Guide for PS. It also ensures better value for money, by providing discounted pricing and beneficial terms for eligible public sector organisations when using Azure.

Doing this opens up the opportunity for public sector customers to address three important things. These are:

  • Create a hybrid cloud journey – Protect existing investments by providing tools to support and manage hybrid cloud and multi-cloud capabilities, both technically and commercially.
  • Turbocharge data insights and application development – Leverage tools such as Power Platform (PowerApps, PowerAutomate, Power Virtual Agents and Power BI) and Azure AI to rapidly develop solutions that offer users insights from vast quantities of data. Azure GitHub also provides the largest world-class platform for sharing code and ensuring the public sector family can take advantage of collaboration and sharing.
  • Microsoft’s commitment to sustainability – Microsoft is working to become carbon negative by 2030. By using Azure, the public sector can be sure it is working with a supplier that is having a positive, constructive, and tangible impact on climate change.

The Azure Pricing Arrangement will also help public sector customers accelerate their digital transformation journey and address some important points from the Cloud Guide for PS.

Be more innovative

It’s hard to be innovative when you have to stick to budgets, but the APA gives you an opportunity to re-imagine and redesign citizen services, as well as improve and make operations more resilient and scalable.

Take advantage of analytics, AI, and machine learning to quickly analyse large government datasets. Azure services such as Azure Cognitive Services brings AI within reach of every developer – without requiring machine learning expertise. Azure Synapse Analytics is a service that brings together enterprise data warehousing and Big Data analytics. Azure Blockchain Service offers the opportunity to quickly build, govern and expand blockchain networks at scale, providing new ways to track and secure important data in distributed citizen processes.

Azure Digital Twins can create comprehensive models of physical environments using spatial intelligence graphs to model the relationships and interactions between people, places, and devices. This helps discover opportunities to improve customer experiences, create new efficiencies, and improve spaces in which people live and work.

Futureproofing your employees

Empower your employee’s up-skill and re-skill. Microsoft Learn has free, on-demand modules and learning paths to help learner’s up-skill. They can also gain industry-recognised Microsoft Certifications, including Azure Data Scientist and AI Engineers. This not only ensures your employees have the skills to get the best out of Azure and its capabilities, but its futureproofing their careers.

Supporting a hybrid and multi-cloud journey

Some organisations use multiple cloud providers, or have a hybrid model with some data stored on their own servers and some in the public cloud. The new public sector APA will enable discounts for Azure services and products that build on existing investments and support the journey to cloud. Azure Arc allows management of complex and distributed environments across on-premises, edge, and multi-cloud scenarios, and offers features such as cloud billing for existing on-premises workloads which can help optimise costs. Azure Stack is a unique hybrid cloud solution that expands the Azure cloud and lets customers run Microsoft Azure Services on-premises from their own data centre. Azure Stack shares a standardised architecture, including the same portal, unified application model, and common DevOps tools.

Intelligent security

Security is a critical component for the public sector, especially as they hold large amounts of sensitive and personal data. Azure provides the opportunity to build next-generation security operations using the cloud and AI, while ensuring organisations meet compliance and regulatory standards. Azure Sentinel uses advanced AI and security analytics to help detect, hunt, prevent, and respond to threats across the organisation. Azure Security Center helps strengthen the security posture of data centres, and provides advanced threat protection across cloud and on-premise workloads.

Helping you achieve more

The new APA has been agreed as an addendum to the existing Digital Transformation Arrangement (DTA) MoU between Microsoft and the Crown Commercial Service, which runs until April 2021. The DTA featured packages and tools to help with GDPR compliance and governance, as well as Microsoft 365, Enterprise Security, Microsoft Teams, and Windows 10 Enterprise capabilities.

Get guidance and support

In order to help the public sector on their Azure journey, we’ve launched some programmes to provide guidance, learning, and help accelerate projects. Take a look at FastTrack for Azure and the Azure Migration Programme. The new public sector APA has also launched some special offers for Azure Support.

The Azure Pricing Arrangement for eligible public sector customer will also be available until April 2021. To unlock the opportunity from this deal please talk to your Microsoft Account Manager or Microsoft certified reseller for more details on the options available.