Texas sets Vblock as 'preferred' tech

$1B data center consolidation effort gets a reboot

The state of Texas has entered into new data center contracts, worth more than $1 billion, to run its massive consolidation project.

The agreements, announced this week, set Xerox and its services company, Affiliated Computer Services (ACS), and Capgemini as the main outsourcers of the state's consolidated data centers.

The state has also adopted Vblock, an integrated platform developed by EMC, VMware and Cisco, as its "preferred" platform for state agency use.

IBM was originally awarded an $863 million contract in 2006 to consolidate state data center operations. In 2010, state officials began to publicly complain about the contract's progress as well as employee turnover. They sought new bids for the project.

The latest agreement brings new approaches with it. Instead of one vendor running the entire project, the state has adopted a "multi-sourcing integrator model."

Under this model, Capgemini has a $127 million agreement with the state to take responsibility for the overall governance of the contract, which includes ensuring that service-level agreements are met.

Capgemini is "responsible for ensuring the integrity of the operations going forward," said Todd Kimbriel, director of e-government and IT services for the Texas Department of Information Resources.

Capgemini will also provide help desk services, planning, performance reporting and other IT and management functions, Kimbriel said.

Xerox will be responsible for printers and a mail operation under a separate six-year deal valued at $56 million. ACS will be in charge of mainframe, server, data center and network services, under a $1.1 billion, eight-year agreement, Kimbriel said.

The multisourcing integrator model allows Texas to insert new vendors and new technologies as it wants. "It's almost like a plug-and-play model, if you will," Kimbriel said.

Texas has been consolidating the IT operations of 28 data centers into two data centers. The data centers are complete, but the consolidation isn't. Some agencies, particularly those handling healthcare services, may keep some data center operations within their agencies.

In terms of technology, the Information Resources Department is giving state agencies the ability to use their IT architecture of choice, but it is recommending that they use Vblock, Kimbriel said.

Kimbriel said the Vblock platform allows them "to very easily and quickly stand up virtual server instances in a cloud-like environment."

The Vblock platform will be priced "more attractively," and will be able to offer faster service delivery," Kimbriel said.

The fate of the employees involved is not entirely clear. Some state employees became IBM employees when the original contract was signed. Kimbriel said it's possible that some of those IBM employees could now become Xerox employees under this new agreement.

IBM is helping with the transition. "They are cooperating fully," said Kimbriel. "There's no emotion on anybody's part," he said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed . His email address is pthibodeau@computerworld.com.

See more by Patrick Thibodeau on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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