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Case study - Taking EU institutions to cloud service adoption through an open tender

The Procurer

We are the department of a European funding agency in charge of delivering digital services to enable EU policies and to support the funding agency’s internal administration.

We have the responsibility to:

» Provide European institutions and bodies, with high quality and innovative: workplace solutions (creating new ways of working and collaboration for staff), business solutions (delivering information systems supporting rationalised business processes within the framework of the corporate IT Governance strategy), infrastructure solutions (providing reliable, cost-effective and secure infrastructure and services), effective solutions (aligning IT investments with business priorities, facilitating relationships with our strategic partners, balancing risk with business value for the Institution);

» Support the modernisation of public administrations by promoting and facilitating interoperability so that European public administrations can work seamlessly together across boundaries.

Why the cloud?

We are currently in the process of procuring cloud services to acquire the necessary resources to serve different institutions including EU Institutions, Executive Agencies and Bodies. This is the main reason why we decided to go for an interinstitutional call for tender.

How we procured cloud services

The Call for Tender was launched on December 27th 2014. The call for tender was divided into 3 lots:

» Lot 1: Private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): compute and storage facilities hosted by a single provider connected to the EC datacentres by a dedicated private network link;

» Lot 2: Public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): compute and storage facilities offered over the public Internet;

» Lot 3: Public Platform as a Service (PaaS): more than just storage and compute facilities, this lot also includes operating systems and/or database services built upon Cloud infrastructure.

The call imposed that all data and infrastructure were deployed on European Union territory only, for essential security and data protection reasons and to be compliant with EU data handling requirements. The award decision for the first Call for Tender for Cloud Services was signed in January 2016. Overall 20 offers were received from 12 tenderers: 7 offers for Lot one, 9 offers for Lot two and 4 offers for Lot three. The call for tender generated a significant interest, with more than 3000 downloads of the specifications and more than 450 questions asked by potential bidders.

Contracts have been awarded to:

» Lot 1: Private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - BT Limited Belgian Branch;

» Lot 2: Public Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - BT Limited Belgian Branch, IBM Belgium, Accenture, Cloud Team Alliance, ATOS;

» Lot 3: Public Platform as a Service (PaaS) - Telecom Italia, Accenture, ATOS Belgium, IBM Belgium.

The maximum financial volume of the resulting contracts over a maximum of four years are 10,252,762.00€ for lot one, 13,946,625.00€ for lot two and 10,360,350.00€ for lot three.

Next steps

The Call for tender will allow the deployment of a first set of IT services in the Cloud during 2016. A series of use cases are studied and should be deployed in the coming months.


What we learned

» Private Cloud: Established datacentre providers answered this lot (4 EU companies and 3 US companies). All technological stacks provided are technologies coming from US companies exclusively. This Lot introduced a significant constraint to have dedicated link between the customer and the provider, which explains the significant presence of Telecom operators that are also datacentre providers. No hyperscale providers (almost fully automated with a huge installed base of servers) made a bid for Lot 1, the size of the award being too small for such operators. The received offers for Lot 1 were technologically comparable; therefore the winner was the provider offering the best price.

» Public Cloud: Layers of services were required in the tender. Such services are not available in the catalogue of hyperscale providers. Thus the offers received were joint bids between hyperscale and other market players able to provide more differentiated services. The re-opening of competition mechanism for each specific contract did not prevent participation in Lot 2 (IaaS). Awards for this Lot have been driven by the quality of the offers instead of the prices. Only hyperscale providers with partner companies participated in Lot 3.

Different conclusions can be drawn:

» the PaaS market does not appear as mature as the IaaS market;

» only large vendors have the human resources to bid for this kind of tenders (no SMEs

» the procurement process for PaaS is something that doesn’t match well with the traditional procurement procedures.