Expanding its cloud computing presence in the UK, Oracle announces a new dedicated dual-region government cloud region and a second commercial cloud region in Newport, Wales.
These resources not only provide a high-performance cloud infrastructure for the UK’s private sector. They also help support the UK government’s National Data Strategy, which aims to transform the country’s use of data to stimulate business growth and improve public services. That effort has taken on new importance amid the COVID-19 crisis, with millions of UK citizens working from home, rising demand for more public services to be available online, and government organizations needing to share their data in timely and transparent ways.
“Building a world-class digital infrastructure is central to the government’s wider digital strategy,” says minister for Investment, Lord Gerry Grimstone in this statement. “Today’s announcement marks a significant milestone in providing this to the entirety of the public sector—a step I very much welcome.”
Having a dedicated dual-region cloud for exclusive use by the government and defense sector customers, and two commercial-only cloud sites inside the UK also supports data security and data sovereignty. Both private companies and public sector agencies throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland now have access to a UK region for running critical workloads and another site for disaster recovery. By adhering to the security principles outlined by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, both Oracle’s government cloud and commercial clouds have been configured to offer sovereignty of sensitive data, compliance with local data regulations, and, for government cloud users, limited access to only those UK citizens with security clearances.
“Wales is a key part of the UK’s digital infrastructure, leading the way in innovation and cyber security, and the perfect place for Oracle to make use of the wealth of expertise and resources we have here,” says Eluned Morgan, minister for International Relations and Welsh Language in this statement. “This project will provide a massive boost to the UK’s public sector, ensuring that data is held securely and improving the services provided to the public.”
The government and commercial cloud sites in London and Newport connect through Oracle Cloud’s high-performance backbone network and offer UK government personnel access to all Oracle Cloud services, including Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, Oracle Autonomous Database, and Oracle Cloud Applications.
While the UK’s public sector has been slow to move enterprise workloads to the cloud, “the government has a major desire to modernize its legacy IT now,” says Jason Rees, head of technology solutions and cloud engineering, at Oracle. What has prevented the UK government from moving to the cloud in the past is a perception that the effort would be too costly, burden limited IT staff, and put sensitive data at risk of security breach.
“This is precisely why we’re providing the UK government with a dedicated, in-country cloud-computing platform, to which it can either lift and shift its on-premises data warehouses and legacy applications to a managed cloud service or move the data directly into cloud applications in a matter of days,” Rees says.
UK companies, such as Mestec, Co-Op, Royal London, National Grid, Aviva, Wolseley, and BJSS, and government agencies can now access any Oracle Cloud services in the commercial and government clouds, for the same price as Oracle’s public cloud offerings.
“We’re also making it easier for the UK government and businesses to comply with data security requirements,” Rees says. Oracle recently launched new security capabilities, such as Oracle Maximum Security Zones, which comes with preconfigured security controls that help prevent cloud security misconfiguration errors, and Oracle Cloud Guard, which continuously monitors critical data and operations, identifies security threats, and can automatically fix them. Both services, built into Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, are available on the UK’s dual-region government and commercial clouds at no additional cost.
For high-performance computing (HPC) workloads, such as models and computations involving huge volumes of sensitive data, Oracle’s second-generation HPC services cost a fraction of running those workloads using on-premises servers.
“A lot of universities and government institutions in the UK currently rent time on high performance and supercomputers, which are very expensive to maintain and require long wait times after queuing up jobs,” Rees says. “With Oracle HPC, which is available on Oracle’s UK government and commercial clouds, there’s no maintenance, users can run jobs whenever they want, they’re only charged for the resources they consume, and then the system shuts down.”
The dual-region government and commercial clouds in the UK mark Oracle’s 27th and 28th regions worldwide, and the 11th that the company has opened in 2020. Oracle operates 21 commercial regions, seven government regions, and multiple dedicated regions for U.S. intelligence services. To help customers manage their business-critical workloads, provide them with disaster protection, and meet in-country data residence requirements, Oracle plans to continue opening dual-regions in more countries. The US, Canada, European Union, South Korea, Japan, India, and Australia already have two Oracle Cloud Regions. Oracle plans a second cloud region in Brazil, U.A.E, and Saudi Arabia, more EU regions in Italy, Sweden, and France, and new regions in Chile, Singapore, South Africa, and Israel.