No one was surprised when the Police formally announced last week it would standardise the multi-million-dollar INCIS project on Windows NT Workstation as the operating system.
It’s been a done deal for some time. Police IT director Greg Batchelor says technology changes since 1994--when Police selected IBM to manage the project, and OS/2--have been dramatic. “Windows has emerged as the dominant desktop product, with an estimated market share of 85% to 90%,” he says. “That’s a fact Police cannot ignore.”
Earlier this year Batchelor exercised a technical substitution clause in the contract, designed to allow technology advances to be taken up as the project progressed. He says network technology requirements and the market have changed since then, causing a re-examination of OS/2’s suitability for the project.
“Switching to NT on the desktop gives us the capability to use most Windows products. That’s critical to future-proofing our systems so we maintain the flexibility to select best-of-breed applications in the future.” OS/2 remains as the server platform of choice, with IBM continuing to provide support for the new environment.
When the debate arose earlier this year about moving to NT Workstation, there were ructions in the ranks. Several of those on the project team had been sold on OS/2 at both server and client level and regarded the move to NT as a costly exercise. So, with the decision having been made de facto some months ago, why has it taken so long to formally agree?
Computerworld understands serious negotiations took place over Microsoft’s code. For IBM to be able to proceed with the recoding, it said it needed to be able to open the code. Microsoft, understandably, was not so keen.
It seems a third-party became involved in the equation--thus extending the negotiations--to act as a Chinese wall between Microsoft and IBM in the access-to-code issue. Computerworld has not been able to confirm if this was the procedure finally decided upon.
Batchelor says a review conducted earlier this year into the scope and progress of the key business and technology projects, including INCIS, also identified more opportunities to use technology to improve policing, both within INCIS and other projects. These include CARD (computer assisted resource deployment), corporate architecture, hardware and software (including mobile computing), management information systems, and a new human resource system.
The review has yet to be completed and detailed implications won’t be known for a few weeks.