UK Home Office rumored to push AWS as host of combined biometrics database

The UK Home Office is considering bids from several companies for its combined database of biometrics from police and immigration sources, and those suppliers are being recommended to host the system on AWS, according to The Daily Telegraph.

IBM, Leidos, and DXC Technology are among companies reported to be bidding on the tender, which is expected to be worth up to £300 million (roughly US$388 million) over 10 years.

Speaking to The Telegraph, MP David Davis said Home Office should clairfy “what exactly is going on, why exactly these requirements have been put in place and what the logic behind them is.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office denied that a certain hosting provider had been stipulated, and said that all bids meeting the technical requirements will be considered.

“When customers, including the UK Government, use AWS they always own their data, their data stays in the AWS Region they choose, and it does not move without their consent. They can choose to encrypt their content for added security and content that has been encrypted is rendered useless without the applicable decryption keys,” an AWS spokesperson told The Telegraph. “Because AWS has a world-class team of security experts, monitoring systems 24/7 to protect customer content, UK government departments are choosing AWS for their most sensitive workloads.”

The Telegraph reports that concern is growing that small and medium-sized businesses are not being given enough opportunities to win government cloud contracts. AWS received approximately 11 percent of Home Office’s total G-Cloud spending last year, while Accenture received slightly more.

Federation of Small Businesses head Tim Colman said that the process appears to be flawed, and contrary to procurement legislation and best practices. He says the biometrics tender is, “extremely concerning, as there doesn’t appear to have been a comprehensive tendering process and this is on the back of various government departments placing a range of cloud services with AWS again in many cases without tenders.”

AWS points out that its platform is supported by an ecosystem of small and medium sized companies providing integration and software services for the platform.

The new contract was originally supposed to start on September 30, 2018.

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