Poor performance prompts Auckland council tender

Council seeks outside help to standardise its desktop environment

Auckland Council is seeking vendors to standardise its desktop environment, which has been negatively impacting its bottom line and customer service due to “poor performance,” according to a recently published RFP document.

The council says IT operational costs have become excessive because the disparate systems used require complex user administration and desktop support. In addition, council workers from librarians to politicians are unable to work off site, and often cannot access data on what should be a combined Wide Area Network (WAN).

The RFP seeks a solution to standardise the build of operating systems and devices used by the council. In particular the council says it is concerned about Windows XP losing update support from Microsoft in 2014, as more than 8100 council machines run the operating system.

“If our desktops are not upgraded before this date, no security updates will be available for Windows XP, leaving our desktops vulnerable,” reads the document.

The successful vendor is expected to package and deploy 600 applications to the new desktop environment, which will use a common operating system based on Windows 7 with the Office 2010 suite. Although the council uses the term desktop, it clarifies that this will also include thin clients, thick clients, and mobile devices.

Also included in this body of work is the consolidation of the council’s Active Directory environment, which it says it inherited from the Auckland Transition Agency (ATA) after the creation of the ‘Super City’.

A new directory and domain was created for the new Super City, but users, devices, and resources are still contained in the nine legacy domains. Vendors are expected to migrate all council users to a single new domain.

The council says it will achieve the migration in two stages.

In stage one applications with duplicate abilities will be removed, consistent builds for devices will be procured, and mobile workplaces will be supported, among other things.

By stage two the council says it hopes to have its “One Council, One IS Landscape” initiative fully running.

This will include a fully standardised desktop environment, with bring your own device (BYOD) support.

Out of scope for the desktop migration are Watercare Services, the Maori Statutory Board, and Auckland Transport.

Auckland Council has been criticised in the past for rushing a previous RFP.

In 2010, Computerworld reported that SAP was chosen as the vendor for Auckland Council’s ERP project without a formal tender process. Computerworld understands that the process was rushed as the now defunct Waitakere City Council, Auckland Regional Council, and Auckland City Council were all using SAP systems, substantial investments which they wished to continue exploiting.

However it was revealed ratepayers would be paying at least $62 million towards creating a new system from scratch instead of recycling systems that were already available at the local councils, including a $2 million system deployed by Auckland Regional Transport Authority (now Auckland Transport).

Computerworld reported sources saying a large chunk of that cost was due to extensive use of consultants.

The desktop environment RFP document was released on May 29. Responses will be accepted between June 29 and July 3.

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