A consortium made up of Fastweb and hosting specialist Aruba has won the tender for the Italian cloud project, but rival bidder TIM still has a chance to match its offer.
The announcement from Italy’s Ministry of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition (MITD) comes as something of a surprise, since TIM and its partners won a contest to design the project for the creation of a National Strategic Hub (NSH), or Polo Strategico Nazionale, as it is known locally, earlier this year, beating off competition from two other bidders.
The incumbent, working with shareholder and state-owned lender Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), defence group Leonardo, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s technology arm Sogei, proudly announced it had submitted its bid to deploy the NSH in March, and it seemed safe to assume that it would pick up the contract.
However, when push came to shove, TIM et al’s bid was more costly than that submitted by Fastweb and Aruba, putting the latter pair in the driving seat.
The MITD revealed that Fastweb/Aruba’s offer came in at an average discount of 39.19% on the list prices across the project. With a base price set at €4.4 billion, that’s a pretty hefty discount – well over €1 billion, in fact. TIM and its partners submitted a bid that shaved 23.36% off the base price, which they clearly thought would be enough to secure the deal.
But as the designer of the project, TIM has a right of first refusal, which gives it a fortnight to match Fastweb’s offer, under the same conditions. So, we’re in for a bit of a wait before we find out exactly which of the two bidding groups – and there were only two, incidentally – comes out on top.
The NSH Is a key tenet of the Italian Cloud Strategy, presented by Italian Technological Innovation and Digital Transition Minister Vittorio Colao last year, which essentially outlines the country’s goal of achieving greater digital autonomy, both in its own right and that of the EU. The NSH will comprise a new IT infrastructure for Italy’s public administrations that will be run by four data centres in two regions of the country.
As the MITD reminded us when it announced the winner, the cloud hub and overall cloud strategy forms part of Italy’s EU-backed post-Covid recovery plan. The goal of the hub is to accelerate the digital transformation of the country’s public administrations and, together with the “enabling and facilitating migration to the cloud” element of the recovery plan, will drive Italy’s aim to have 75% of Italian administrations using cloud services by 2026.
The cloud hub is key to all of this, naturally. But who will build it? Over to TIM to decide whether it can – or indeed is willing to – shave costs further to pip Fastweb at the post.