Oracle channel partners are gearing up for a mega software and shared services framework worth up to £750m over three years via the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
A Prior Information Notice was released last week and covers the upgrade of ERP platforms including business intelligence and enterprise data warehousing, as well as services such as maintenance and hosting.
The FCO said that it intends to put together a sales agreement for the "provision of Oracle ERP development, delivery and support services" for its users and others across central government.
"The scope [of the framework] intends to cover existing Oracle platforms in UK government departments and any supporting technologies, and to include upgrades and implementations of new Oracle versions of these existing platforms," the pre-tender stated.
The FCO added the agreement will also include the migration of government departments to the Oracle platform, which goes some way to explaining the potential size of the total contracts on offer.
The pre-tender gave an estimated contract value of £250m to £750m over its lifespan.
The framework tender is expected to be released within three to four months and signals wider efforts to tackle the problem of fragmented procurement across government.
One Oracle partner told us government departments procure Oracle software individually and at different prices.
"There is a lot of room for negotiation and pricing is bloody messy," he told us.
It is likely that Oracle will bid directly for the business but in line with all the noise coming out of the Cabinet Office, small biz suppliers are likely to be shoe-horned into the framework.
"It's all politics, and whether or not it genuinely wants them or not, government has to be seen to involve SMEs," said a channel source.
The Cabinet Office has talked repeatedly of breaking up government monopolies and setting up G-Cloud to simplify and make tech buying cheaper, though iteration one made little impact.
The reaction to the Oracle deal from Chris Chant, former exec director of Cabinet Office and programme director of G-Cloud was shock. "I could build the Chateau de Versailles for that money!" he tweeted.
Open-source firebrand Mark Taylor, chief exec at Sirius, also weighed in on Twitter. "When I think of what could be achieved funding Open Source ERP at a mere 10 per cent of that £750m…" ®