The London Grid for Learning (LGfL) has retained Atomwide to provide its universal sign-on (USO) platform and related serices under a new five-year contract valued at up to £21.8 million – saying that for the moment there is no viable alternative.
LGfL is a charitable trust that provides broadband connectivity and ICT services for schools in London and beyond.
It has been using a proprietary solution developed by Atomwide for USO related support services which, according to the contract award notice, is inextricably linked to the provision of broadband and other services to LGfL’s customer schools.
“The services provided by Atomwide are complex, deeply integrated and dependent on the use of proprietary software that was developed over an extended period,” the notice says. “The software is not a commodity product due to its unique nature and its limited market; Atomwide is the only supplier capable of supporting and maintaining it.
“Consequently, economic operators could not submit competitive tenders for the provision of alternative services without a licence from Atomwide for its proprietary materials resulting in an absence of genuine competition.”
This prompted LGfL to carry out negotiations with the company without prior notice, as allowed by the Public Contract Regulations.
Move to open standards
It adds, however, that it is developing technology and design principles for future solutions under which proprietary products can be replaced by others based on open standards and interoperability.
“This is a necessary strategic step to replace USO as a central system and to reduce dependency on USO during the term of the new contract,” the notice says.
The new contract includes an option for a three-year extension that would take it to the end of 2031.