The latest news on the creation of the national strategic hub (the so-called Cloud of the PA). The move by Fastweb and Aruba, Tim's expectations with Cdp, Sogei and Leonardo, Colao's delays and the role of American operators at the window
A bolt from the blue. This must have been for Minister Vittorio Colao and his Department for Digital Transition the opening of the envelopes relating to the offers for the creation of the National Strategic Pole (PSN), the so-called National Cloud, a project for which it seemed for some time taken for granted. 'assignment to the consortium led by Tim , who controls 45%, with Cdp, Sogei and Leonardo together with 55%.
The Fastweb-Aruba offer
According to what was reported today by the newspaper La Verità , the consortium formed by Fastweb and Aruba "would have put on the plate a discount of 20%, therefore more delicious than the 10% offered by the competing consortium". The difference in the offer would be considerable. 20% of the tender for the PSN, carried out by the contracting station Difesa Servizi spa according to the public-private partnership (PPP) formula and consisting of three specifications for a value of approximately 3 billion, is worth approximately 600 million euros.
The National Strategic Pole
The PSN aims to equip the public administration, through a dedicated infrastructure – divided into at least 4 data centers distributed in two regions – at the forefront of performance and security, with Cloud technologies and infrastructures that can benefit from the highest guarantees of reliability, resilience and independence. The PSN must be geographically distributed throughout the national territory at appropriately identified sites, in order to ensure adequate levels of operational continuity and fault tolerance.It must also allow the PA to ensure compliance with the requirements on cybersecurity and to enable migration. towards types of Cloud IaaS and PaaS services. The government's goal is to host critical and strategic data and services from all central PAs (about 200), ASLs and the main local administrations (Regions, metropolitan cities, municipalities with more than 250 thousand inhabitants) in the infrastructure.
After the Department of Colao had rejected the proposals that arrived last December – one presented by AlmaViva and Aruba and the other by Fastweb and Engineering – there were few who gave credit to possible surprises. In the decree of choice , in fact, the Department had been very harsh against the proposals competing with Tim's: that of AlmaViva and Aruba had been defined as "incomplete and not innovative from a technological point of view and inadequate from an economic and financial point of view", also raising questions about timing and relations with foreign cloud service providers; that of Engineering and Fastweb “adequate from an economic, financial, legal and governance point of view – is characterized by not being complete and innovative from a technological point of view”, speaking of weakness in the safety aspects. Evidently, however, both Fastweb and Aruba have been able to work together and overcome the technical-administrative and even political obstacles, creating a level offer, about which rumors have been circulating for a few weeks regarding the ability to be able to counter that Tim & co.
Following the opening of the envelopes, the ministerial commission in charge will now have to evaluate the economic-financial plan and the adequacy of the economic offer of Fastweb and Aruba and only after, in a couple of weeks, it will be possible to proceed to the provisional award and subsequently to the 'eventual final award. In the fifteen days before the provisional award, the Cdp-Tim-Leonardo consortium will have the opportunity to exercise the so-called "right to match": this is how the law on PPP provides, given that the digital transformation department had in fact built the tender on the basis of "Private initiative project finance proposal presented by the same team in recent months and selected, last December 27, by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers – Department for Digital Transformation (decree no. 47/2021-PNRR), as a proposal for reference for the launch of the tender, having been assessed as fully meeting the needs expressed in the Italy Cloud Strategy ".
The selected economic operator will have to set up a company that will be subject to the national regulations on golden power. However, the delays of the "National Cloud" match are starting to be considerable. If the objective of the award by 2022, as indicated in the Pnrr documents sent to Brussels, now seems close, it seems unlikely that the testing of the infrastructure will arrive by the end of the year. It seems even less possible to complete the migration of PAs to the national Cloud between 2023 and 2025. In fact, the probable risks of appeals to the administrative judge must also be taken into consideration, which could further slow down the award procedures. A reality that therefore clashes with the announcements made at the hearing in the Chamber by Minister Colao last January .
US operators at the window
The award of the National Strategic Pole – writes Il Sole 24 Ore – is also eagerly awaited by large cloud service providers, all inevitably American, albeit with infrastructures present in Europe and – only for some – in Italy. The consortium Tim has indicated Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure and Oracle Cloud as suppliers, while Fastweb and Aruba would rely on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure.
As Consip's cloud goes
With the PSN on an uncertain track at the moment, the only certainty for the Department of Colao is called Consip. The MEF agency in fact awarded a tender at the end of April – launched in 2019 – for the provision of public cloud services for PA companies through a list of infrastructural elements (including for example computing, storage, database or container ) with the possibility of requesting additional additional elements. The tender in question was won by a temporary joint venture (RTI) led by Almaviva together with Engineering and Amazon Web services (AWS), which will provide the cloud technology. There is talk of migrations to the cloud, already started, by a PA in which "93-95% of the servers are not in safe conditions" ( words of Minister Colao ) for a potential value of 468 million euros over a period 5 years old. A race that according to many operators in the PA and beyond, and as reported by La Verità, "could also become a benchmark for future steps" of the national Cloud.