The Put up Station of job Scandal: Drawing parallels between Horizon and the UK cloud market

With the continuing fallout from the Put up Station of job scandal, questions are being requested about whether or no longer the UK executive looks suppose to repeat the errors of the past in step with its reliance on the cloud applied sciences of plenty of major US hyperscalers

Nicky  Stewart


Published: 08 Feb 2024

Fujitsu’s strategy to end bidding on public sector contracts till the conclusion of the public inquiry into the Put up Station of job Horizon IT scandal, at some stage in which the Eastern provider is implicated, is the greatest element for the corporate to enact. Then yet again it would now not absolve the firm in any capability, and there are light many unanswered questions that Fujitsu desires to take care of. 

Paul Patterson, the European director at Fujitsu, admitted to MPs recently the corporate had remotely accessed the Horizon terminals of sub-postmasters, which is one thing that had lengthy been denied by all people in mark.

Faded Fujitsu UK CEO Duncan Tait has even since admitted that he described Horizon as “Castle Knox” to the then Put up Station of job boss, Paula Vennells, which begs the ask: how may perhaps perhaps well Fujitsu’s reassurances appreciate long gone unchallenged for see you later? 
There’s understandable incredulity that the Fujtisu Horizon instrument gadget is light in employ and partly funded by taxpayers. In actual fact that, as a country, we stay stuck with Horizon till 2025 – because it has confirmed to be too faded, too complex, and too bespoke to pass to the cloud. 
Horizon is a creature of its time, and clearly on no myth constructed on the open requirements and interoperability that are the mantras for technological option and flexibility this present day.  

And it is now not any longer continuously surprising – in the wake of the Put up Station of job scandal – that folks are asking questions about Fujitsu and why it stays a “strategic provider to executive” – and one amongst an elite few that can boast huge annual revenues for that reason of its dealings with the UK executive.
The reasons for Fujitsu’s ongoing success in the public sector market are complex. Many contracting authorities are locked into proprietary skills be pleased Horizon that can now not be modernised, for one element. 

Despite a concerted effort to present a capture to its industrial and technical skills, the manager would now not yet appreciate the total sources it desires to pass some distance from its outdated methods – or to modernise and reform its provide heinous.  
Authorities suppose out on its bound to the cloud with optimism bigger than a decade previously, taking into account cloud can be the silver bullet that can perhaps well presumably liberate it from the grip of companies be pleased Fujitsu. Cloud would be consumed as a commodity and cloud suppliers jettisoned on a whim.  
If truth be told, the reverse has confirmed to be the case. Many cloud platforms portion a few of Horizon’s traits. Notably proprietary skills (that when coupled with exit penalties) can lock customers into the platform in perpetuity. Satirically, the cloud platform the Put up Station of job tried and failed to migrate Horizon to was one amongst those proprietary platforms.  
The Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA) is currently investigating the impression of cloud provider lock-in, be that by scheme of proprietary skills, exit penalties, discounts in step with term/volume commitments or unfair instrument licensing practices.

Despite the CMA investigation, two of the enviornment’s major cloud distributors, Microsoft and Amazon, are deemed “strategic suppliers to executive”. Between them, every companies appreciate accumulated public sector cloud hosting contract exhaust to the tune of billions of pounds. None of this enterprise has been competed.  
The salvage result is a cloud monoculture made up of Microsoft and Amazon, meaning well-known of the nation’s most severe and sensitive data now resides on their platforms. Numerous the economic fair correct thing regarding the manager’s ever-rising cloud exhaust will paddle off-shore – to the detriment of the UK’s possess cloud hosting industry.

Above all, the monoculture also amounts to a single point of failure that would appreciate catastrophic consequences if subjected to a serious cyber or physical assault. 
Right here is now not any longer a name to the Luddites to advance out and smash up the looms. We need cloud. We need its agility and scale in this ever more data-pushed world.  
Authorities mostly made a mess of procuring its legacy methods and its making a mess of procuring cloud. Right here is a plea to the manager no longer to repeat the errors of the past. 

It desires to make sure that its data-pushed digital markets are resilient, brilliant, diverse and aggressive and it desires to make sure that that its officials are effectively geared as a lot as enhance this form of market. On account of the following shining fresh element on the horizon is synthetic intelligence (AI). 

No provider ought to light ever be allowed to appreciate a monopoly on AI in any sector. The probability of an unaccountable AI turning into the following Horizon, with its lies, quilt-u.s.and destruction of lives and livelihoods, is hideous.  

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