On the 8th October, UKCloud welcomed a number of members from the UK Defence Select Committee. A reduced group attended the day at UKCloud’s registered office at Hartham Park in Corsham, and the site of UKCloud’s ARK datacentres, due to COVID 19 regulations. In attendance was the chair of the committee, Rt Hon Tobias Elwood MP, Rt Hon Richard Drax MP, and the committee clerk Mark Atherton.
The day started off with a discussion, focussed on UKCloud’s MOD Silver Award for extending its commitment to building digital skills in the UK. This award was in recognition of UKCloud’s support for ex-military personnel helping to realise and nurture their valuable skillsets in the civilian workplace. UKCloud believes an organisation is defined by its people, and our commitment to the defence of our nation extends further than cloud services. Yes, we are experts on cloud, but truly appreciating the needs of our national defence means utilising the skills and expertise of those that know the military through-and-through. Those attributes shine through with everything we do, with everyone we serve and that is why UKCloudX is the cloud platform our national defence relies on. On the day, we were able to demonstrate that commitment by introducing the Committee to some of our ex-service colleagues.
The conversation then moved to our core business – cloud services. Jeff (our Chairman) and Simon (our CEO) began with our background, briefing that UKCloud was created to make a difference to the way public sector IT is delivered and is exclusively dedicated to supporting the digital transformation of UK public services. The company believes in taking the cost, risk and waste out of public sector IT to improve the front-line public services delivered to UK citizens, whilst reducing the costs to the UK taxpayer. UKCloud currently hosts a rich and diverse set of customers including: Defence Digital, DE&S, DSTL, Air Command, Royal Marines, Royal Navy as well other National Security customers. UKCloud is unique in being able to offer multi-security true cloud services into Defence & National Security Our team discussed with the Committee some of the challenges in working with Defence (and other National Security customers), such as government departments defaulting to using hyperscalers without even considering the competition, lack of data sovereignty for UK citizen and UK classified and sensitive workloads, lock-in to proprietary vendors environments, lack of investment in skills and social responsibility in the UK, and the need for all suppliers into HMG paying their fair share of taxes. In addition, the discussion focussed on Defence (and National Security) being ‘behind the curve’ in terms of cloud adoption (as highlighted by our State of Cloud Adoption Survey earlier this year), for a range of reasons including: sunk costs, security, internal skillsets, vested interests, etc. However, Jeff and Simon, highlighted the game changing technology deployed by UKCloud to overcome many of those challenges.
With that, the discussion turned to the protection of UK data, particularly in the light of government announcement around space technology, cyber security threats, SchremsII judgement in the European Court, etc. The Committee was very surprised by some of the facts and data presented by Jeff and Simon around the amount of western world data stored in the US, and the positive initiatives shown by European and Middle Eastern leaders to invest in sovereign data centres and cloud hosting services to regain control of their own data.
The day then moved on and our team gave the Committee a tour of our state-of-the-art ARK datacentres, and at the other end of the spectrum the historic Corsham tunnels. A great opportunity to show the core of our operations, and the people that keep our country’s data safe.
The day concluded with the Committee Chair inviting Jeff and Simon to submit and present evidence to an upcoming Select Committee.