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DH axes £500m Microsoft licensing deal

14 July 2010   Jon Hoeksma

The Department of Health will not renew a half billion pound software licensing deal with Microsoft, which has run for 12 years.

The DH’s IT agency, NHS Connecting for Health, has written to NHS organisations telling them that there will be no new deal and that in future they will have to negotiate directly with Microsoft.

Because the NHS Enterprise-wide Agreement was for perpetual licences, NHS trusts will still be able to use most existing software and will still have access to Office 2010 Professional and Windows 7 Professional.

But future releases of desktop, operating system and server licences will not be covered.

“Going forward, individual local organisations will be responsible for all aspects of funding, purchase, and management of Microsoft licences,” advises a 9 July letter from CfH.

The lapsed deal made the NHS one of Microsoft's largest customers in the world. The EwA covered most of the Microsoft desktop and personal productivity software, for up to 850,000 NHS users.

It was first signed in November 2004, with an unconfirmed value of £500m. The nine year agreement included three-year breakpoints to enable the NHS to review its technology requirements.

The 2007 renewal saw the deal extended to cover Microsoft Exchange, the then-new Windows Vista operating system, and anti-virus technology.

NHS staff were able to get copies of Microsoft software for home use at a token price. With the end of the deal at the end of May this perk was withdrawn.

Microsoft also invested £40m in a Common User Interface programme to develop consistent ways of presented information in IT systems and to provide guidance to trusts on how to make IT easier to deploy and maintain.

The parallel Microsoft Server Application Platform Agreement has also been terminated with effect from 30 June.

By letting the agreements lapse, the DH is in effect passing on costs to local NHS organisations, most of which are Microsoft 'shops' and  rely heavily on Microsoft products that their staff have been trained to use.

Local IT departments have based much of their development on Microsoft technologies.

Sources suggest that the DH sought to secure a new deal with Microsoft at greatly reduced cost, citing the straightened state of the economy and cuts in public services. The DH, however, failed to respond to any questions relating to the deal.


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Last updated: 14 July 2010 17:23

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Not a time for revolution

eCulture 214 weeks ago

A lot of commentary on the subject, with some suggesting this to be the ideal time for a major change to alternative technologies, a little concerning in that there appears to be very limited consideration being given strategically…

If I were an IM&T Manager in a trust and I was asked to consider what investments in technology would deliver the most significant increases in efficiency savings over the next three years, then I think there are two opportunities of significance,

1)      Electronic Health Record, and the potential to improve significantly operational front line services, the benefits of which are explored elsewhere.

From this articles / discussions perspective:

2)      Office automation and workflow, is the next significant technology evolution that is coming, that warrants being given serious consideration as a means to deliver efficiencies and savings in non-clinical activities of any significant degree.

Now in answer to those that suggest alternative technologies options should be considered, to deliver office automation and workflow a number of components are required:

·         A messaging service to pass around workflow messages

·         A business rules engine to manage events and actions

·         A database engine to store metadata and structured data items

·         A document management systems to handle unstructured data

·         Digital signature solution

·         Interface solutions to enable clients to interact appropriately in terms of supplying information, responding to workflow events etc

·         Forms tools, data entry tools, browser tools etc

In considering the cost efficiency options for developing, implementing and supporting the office automation and workflow solutions I would be looking to utilise as much of our existing investment in technology as possible.

In acknowledging that not all of the components would already be available in my organisations, I would be looking to select technologies that had the best fit with those I already have deployed.

In acknowledging that I would not have all the required skills readily available in house, then my choice of technologies would be influenced by selecting those that are supported the most in terms of third parties I could call on to help.

Another important technology consideration, I would want to be able to use as much commercial off the shelf software as possible, to limit the amount of software development (risk) to the minimum possible.

Top of the list for this Microsoft, with technologies addressing every aspect of the outline requirements listed above, application programming interfaces to support development of any bespoke requirements, hundreds of technology partner specialist covering every aspect of the technologies above, thousands of developers to help at very competitive rates, and an unprecedented level of online resources available also.

Microsoft represents the lowest risk option for the business, given I have already:

MS Exchange Server (and Outlook Client), MS SQL Server for my databases, MS SharePoint for my document management, MS Office and IE for my clients requirements.

I have digital signature capable technology in my NHS Smartcard,

I am just missing MS BizTalk for my business rules engine….

The alternative options to Microsoft at the same level of support and limitations of risk, I will have to get back to you on that one…..

What was needed was a bit of out of the box thinking on this EWA, like how to get the most out of it at least cost in the next five years, perhaps a buy now pay later option, after all if the economic situation is going to recover once we have reduced the national deficit isnt it?

Would we not be in a position to pay Microsoft later whilst having the option to exploit what the technologies can deliver in making efficiency gains and savings now and over the next 3 to 5 years.

Oh and best of all, office automation and workflow, if done correctly is not a development initiative that should take five years to deliver any benefit.

Proper use of modern development methods (agile) which I hasten to add is not designing on the back of an envelope, is the mechanism by which investment is made in short incremental steps providing businesses a return on its investment as the programme progresses.

Unlike NPfIT, considerations on technology investment going forward should not be about revolution or “replace all”, instead it should be evolution, and “connect all”, now where have I heard that before!


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eCulture
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Getting Real

Unknown 214 weeks ago

@commenter 39

If you work from home that often then surely its worth invetsing in the full professional versions of the software you use (like I had to)?

On the other hand are you seriously suggesting that you will uninstall the software from your PC - throw you hands in the air and say "I can't work"?

....yep - definately sounds like the public sector to me.


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HUP - A Perk

Unknown 214 weeks ago

I can no longer work from home without Office. Open Office has compatibility problems that take too long to fix back at work to make using it worthwhile. There's no Outlook, Publisher or Access in my Home and Student version which is not licenced for business use anyway.

I'll have to work at work now, when I'm paid to work. At least it will keep me away from my patients. Seriously, this is a cost that by its very nature cannot be calculated but my guess is that it will be considerable.


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HUP - A Perk

Unknown 214 weeks ago

I can no longer work from home without Office. Open Office has compatibility problems that take too long to fix back at work to make using it worthwhile. There's no Outlook, Publisher or Access in my Home and Student version which is not licenced for business use anyway.

I'll have to work at work now, when I'm paid to work. At least it will keep me away from my patients. Seriously, this is a cost that by its very nature cannot be calculated but my guess is that it will be considerable.


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Its a long road . . .

Guildfoss 214 weeks ago

Newbrie@Guildfoss.com

This is an inevitable start of a long haul programme to free up NHS and government IT. It will still have a migration cost however of about £40m, probably double that if its not carefully managed though.


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Free download of Office 2007 converter

Unknown 214 weeks ago

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=941b3470-3ae9-4aee-8f43-c6bb74cd1466&displaylang=en

always surprised IT depts don't do more to publicise this


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Wot about the workers?

Mary Hawking 214 weeks ago

All the previous commentators have been talking about the problems presented to individual trusts by the end of the Microsoft licensing deal - and the possibilities for introducing individual, different software to satisfy the needs of the individual Trusts.

As a GP, I already have problems with documents I am required to read - especially from central organisations - arriving in Office 2007 formats. My practice - and I suspect most of the NHS - has no need for the additional facilities provided by Office 2007. And installing Office 2007, with all the training implications, only to save all documents in Office XP format just doesn't make any sort of sense!

Will the plans of individual Trusts lead to the Tower of Babel consequences of the Confusion of Tongues?


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Back of an envelope?

Unknown 214 weeks ago

Back of an envelope (if such existed in these times of emails and polythene wrappers) would be good.  These days, the NHS seems hell-bent on specifying system functionality requirements (never mind the contract documentation) in something the size of "War and Peace", so as to make what they really want both unaffordable and unachievable.  Then when they get something close to what they specified delivered and implemented, the regime change demands that the system be tweaked, amended, updated, and bastardised  to provide what is required now.

I'm honestly surprised that any application supplier is keen on staying in the NHS business. 

 


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You sure?

Unknown 214 weeks ago

"The days of designing IT systems on the back of envelopes has long gone - thank god."

No, now its a methodology and they call it Agile.....


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Private Industry Myths

Unknown 214 weeks ago

"...Private industry often has the money and resource to throw at IT to 'just make it work'"

Having worked in both the commercial ('private industry') and the NHS, and owning my own business since 2005 I have to disagree with this statement. Businesses (large & small alike) implement change for the better in a business to improve its likeliness of SURVIVAL in a difficult market, and employees co-operate in the large (because you get to keep your job).

The Commercial Sector has overheads which have to be funded and there comes a point when negotiating a daily rate when no profit can be made in order to be able to meet the costs of running a business - the NHS just does not seem to be able to get its head around this concept?

The Commercial Sector is not awash with cash - in fact when I was last employed by large software and services supplier to the NHS I had to earn my keep - two and a half times my own cost to be viable - or your shown the door.


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