British Gas parent Centrica has signed a $400 million (£247 million) deal with HP to migrate to a “private cloud” and utility computing environment.

Under the seven-year deal, HP will operate two data centres for Centrica. One of the buildings is located in Wynyard, near Newcastle, but the other has not yet been disclosed. HP will also provide support from India, Malaysia and the Philippines.

Centrica aims to improve the speed at which it can deploy software, as well as cutting costs, through the deal. The company is also looking for flexible computing capacity according to demand.

The company was "striving to improve our ability to respond to market changes to supply gas and electricity to homes and businesses more efficiently”, according to Dave Bickerton, chief information officer.

The utility will also have the option to use specific HP cloud-computing services aimed at improving forms of data access and management.

Over the last few years, Centrica has invested heavily in the rollout of smart meters, which are aimed at showing users their energy usage in real time as well as enabling them to run heavy-energy devices at cheaper times. As of November, it had rolled out 200,000 smart meters to homes as businesses.

Last week, it also said that developments to its online platform have encouraged a growing number of British Gas customers to interact with the company on the web. Self-service transactions now account for around 40 percent of all customer contact.