Concerns raised as HP eyes CSC

CSC New Zealand customers will have some tough questions to ask Hewlett-Packard if it takes over the services company.

CSC New Zealand customers will have some tough questions to ask Hewlett-Packard if it takes over the services company.

Tranz Rail information chief Garry Collings has some concerns. “I’m not entirely happy with the prospect of a manufacturer taking over business which has been done by an independent company,” he says.

The scope is obviously there for HP to put pressure on Tranz Rail to ditch its current IBM mainframes in favour of HP equipment, he says, and to work through CSC to get the software of HP and its partners installed.

CSC still handles the mainframe-based end of Tranz Rail’s IT. Desktops and servers were transferred last year to gen-i (formerly Wang NZ), its first major contract under its new identity.

HP’s presence as mainframe supporter would come at a particularly sensitive time. Tranz Rail is considering whether it should stop using mainframes altogether.

“We’re not a large-scale company any more; we’re no longer New Zealand Rail, with 20,000 employees,” Collings says. On international ratings of hardware requirement, Tranz Rail now comes into “midrange” computing territory, helped, of course by major growth in the power-to-price ratio of computers, he says. Computerworld understands IBM is pushing for Tranz Rail to downsize to a P-series machine.

The independent CSC has been “great at looking after our mainframes”, Collings says, “but they’ve not been doing a great deal beyond that”. CSC lost a lot of impetus when it failed to win the WestpacTrust outsourcing deal earlier this year, he says.

AMP NZ IT manager David Bowen says he has not had a very good impression of CSC NZ over the years, and AMP in New Zealand no longer uses its services.

CSC NZ decided six years ago to prune its range of operations, he says. “My predecessor tried dealing with them on a facilities management contract and it was clear they didn’t want to do FM any more.” More recently the range of services from the company has broadened again, so management seems to have decided they were wrong, he says.

On the HP involvement, Bowen says it may improve the performance of the company, “but it will probably not have huge consequences for us, as we source from HP anyway”.

Mid-Central Health IS manager Chris Dever says HP’s good reputation and the competence behind it will be a strength for CSC, as will potential transfer of expertise. But a question arises over how much of this technology HP will make available to CSC.

HP’s general manager of solutions, Mark Bowman, says if and when HP takes over CSC, all that company’s employees will become HP employees — part of its services division — and hence will be entitled to access and deploy to clients all its services, software and other intellectual property.

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