The UK government’s Crown Commercial Service (CCS) has secured an agreement with Microsoft to offer public sector organizations discounted rates for Azure.

Billed as the Azure Pricing Arrangement (APA), the agreement builds on the Digital Transformation Arrangement (DTA) than has existed between Microsoft and the CCS since 2018 and runs until April 2021.

This has covered the provision of Microsoft software products including Windows 10, Office 365 and Microsoft Teams to public sector organisations, as well as cloud and security solutions.

SEE: Organizations want versatile tech pros who can venture outside their silos (TechRepublic)

The amended agreement means that all eligible public sector organizations under the DTA agreement will have discounted access to Microsoft Azure business tools, such as AI and analytics, blockchain and big data application.

Microsoft said the agreement would support organizations that used multiple cloud providers or hybrid solutions that stored some data on their own servers and some in the public cloud.

According to recent data from IT analytics firm Flexera, multi-cloud use is now mainstream, with more than half of organizations (53%) now using multiple public and private cloud systems.

Chris Perkins, general manager of public sector sales at Microsoft UK, said Azure offered “the security, scalability and resilience” that the public sector required to provide services to citizens “in a cost-effective way.”

Perkins added: “Today’s agreement caters for public sector organisations, regardless of where they are on their cloud journey, and Microsoft is looking forward to working with our customers to accelerate and unlock the benefits of moving to Azure.”

SEE: Microsoft Office 365: How these Azure machine-learning services will make you more productive and efficient (TechRepublic)

The UK government and Microsoft have been working together on cloud services since the launch of the UK’s Cloud First policy in 2013, which encouraged public sector organizations to ensure that they sought both quality and value for money when considering new cloud services.

Simon Tse, chief executive of CCS, said: “CCS provides commercial agreements which help organisations across the entire public sector save time and money on buying everyday goods and services.

“This agreement with Microsoft, is yet another example of our commitment to achieving outstanding commercial value for our customers, as they work to deliver essential services for UK citizens.”