Tranz Rail not putting eggs all in one outsourcing basket

Tranz Rail information chief Garry Collings sees an advantage in having more than one provider of outsourced services.

Tranz Rail information chief Garry Collings sees an advantage in having more than one provider of outsourced services.

It is one way of preserving the independence of the organisation from one particular supplier, he says.

“Having three [outsourcers] is probably not desirable, and we could lose at least one, but it’s more comfortable having at least two.”

The outsourcing contract for Tranz Rail’s Distribution Services Group (DSG) was awarded earlier this month to Eagle Technology, against a competitive bid from gen-i, which supports the personal computers and departmental servers in Tranz Rail’s much larger rail services group (RSG).

The third outsourcer is CSC, which runs the company’s IBM 390 mainframes. This is the one most likely to be up for change, Collings confirms. As he said last month, Tranz Rail considers the size of the organisation probably does not justify the continued use of mainframes.

However, it will not be an easy move away, as Collings indicated last month, because the Tranz Rail systems involve IBM proprietary software.

DSG’s status as a self-contained business makes it easier to have a different outsourcer, Collings says. Gen-i, however, was given a fair chance to bid for the DSG business, and fell short in some significant respects. It did not put up a satisfactory specification for a portal, which Tranz Rail considers a necessary part of the DSG system, Collings says. He is clearly impressed with the Eagle offering, using iPlanet’s portal.

Tranz Rail wanted “a better user experience” and a competently designed portal is a crucial element of that, Collings says. “You should be able to do everything without moving out of the IE5 [browser] window, and Eagle’s solution offered that.”

Clear’s new data centre on Auckland’s North Shore was a crucial element of the gen-i bid, and as a new facility, its appearance was not entirely reassuring, Collings says. “For a facility of its size it looked empty. There weren’t many people around.”

Its stringent security facilities may also be counterproductive, in that they make the building look obvious, he says.

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