Licensing specialist SBL has retained a major Microsoft contract with the Ministry of Defence, CRN has learned.
The three-year deal, worth an estimated £16m annually, replaces a £25m-a-year contract which ends this month. Bidders had been expecting a decision about 10 days ago, but the green light from the MoD and the Cabinet Office finally arrived this afternoon. The award appears to have come in the nick of time for all parties, with Microsoft's fiscal year closing this weekend and the contract set to go live on Monday.
The contract was awarded through the £6bn CITHS framework, which - as CRN revealed - was recently extended to its maximum four-year term and will now end in February 2014. The deal covers a Defence Information Infrastructure (DII) licensing estate of some 180,000 machines.
But a source familiar with the matter said that, although the MoD may have felt it was picking the most cost-effective supplier, the headline cost savings are illusory. Spending chiefs would be better served by managing its software assets in a far more stringent way, they added.
"The Microsoft infrastructure at DII has been hugely bloated and over-scoped for years and clearly the MoD has had no objective advice as to the appropriate amount of Microsoft technology to procure," added the source. "Unfortunately, the award to the incumbent promises more of the same."
CRN has contacted SBL, Microsoft and the Cabinet Office and was awaiting responses at the time of publication.
According to its FY12 accounts, SBL saw revenue rise 4.3 per cent to about £88m for the 12 months to 31 August 2012.
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