JANET, the UK’s government-funded research and education network, has announced its first cloud infrastructure framework, incorporating technology from eight selected suppliers.

The framework is wide ranging, offering services from colocation through to cloud infrastructure, and aims to lighten the burden of procurement and compliance with EU regulations for institutions. In conjunction with the recently formed JANET Brokerage service, the organisation claims it will drive the use of cloud computing across the UK, as well as saving both time and money.

JANET said that the nature and provision of cloud services will change over time, and the scope of this framework enables suppliers to evolve their products to continually provide the latest technologies available.

“We’ve managed to establish a framework, which is agile enough for everyone on the JANET network, in a remarkably short space of time,” said Dan Perry, head of strategic business at JANET. “Institutions are queuing up to use it, with our support, to help them move to cloud computing and data centres.”

So far, five IT suppliers have been named – Dell, Eduserv, HP, Liberata and Logicalis. Other supplier contracts are still in the process of being signed.

[Update: Fujitsu has confirmed to Techworld that it will also deliver cloud services through the Janet framework.]

Non-profit IT service provider Eduserv already runs an Education Cloud, giving universities and colleges in the UK access to storage and processing power on demand. The Education Cloud features compute and storage offerings under both VMware vCloud and OpenStack, supports virtual machines running Windows and Linux, and has direct connectivity to the JANET backbone.

Eduserv's Education Cloud currently hosts four university SaaS pilot projects – two in Oxford, one in Leicester and one in Southampton. Liverpool University's Digital Academic Record Exchange (DARE) project, which aims to make certain documents available to employers securely, is also hosted on the Education Cloud.

“Given our long history of helping the education sector make better use of IT, we jumped at the chance to join the new JANET framework,” said Julian Mitchell, education manager at Eduserv. “Institutions will be able to benefit from our infrastructure and cloud expertise and make use of our UK-based data centre, which is directly connected to the JANET network via duel 10Gb links.”

Business process services provider Liberata said that education and research institutions are now seeing energy-efficient, off-campus data centres and services as a way to reduce both risk and cost. Meanwhile, ICT provider Logicalis said that JANET would benefit from its experience in helping higher and further education institutions adopt new ICT delivery and consumption models.

"How universities and further education colleges provide computing and storage services in the future are going to be heavily dependent on the emergence of quality cloud services,” said Tom Kelly, managing director of ICT provider Logicalis UK.

"As we have seen at Loughborough University, where £2.5 million was saved through the adoption of Logicalis’ JANET-enabled hybrid cloud solutions and services, the power of cloud to unlock money so it can be directed at where an institution needs it most, improving student experience and educational outcomes, is now not in doubt.”