Consolidation Goal Is to Cut Costs

After Vanguard Car Rental USA Inc. acquired the Alamo and National car-rental brands in October, it embarked on a plan to cut IT costs from $145 million to $75 million or less through systems consolidation.

CIO Tyler Best's job is to make it happen by July 15.

Alamo Rent A Car Inc. and National Car Rental were previously owned by ANC Rental Corp., but they used separate IT systems: an IBM mainframe at Alamo, and HP ProLiant Intel-based servers at National.

Tulsa, Okla.-based Vanguard wants to maintain separate brand identities while creating an IT infrastructure with just one system to manage vehicle assets, reservations and other back-end systems. The company currently lacks a single view of its assets, Best said.

"The rental car business is what I call 'glorified asset management' -- making sure vehicles are in the right place at the right time," he said.

Vanguard is moving its systems to two high-end PA-RISC-based Superdome servers from HP. Best said his technical staff has no problem with HP's strategy to phase out the PA-RISC line and migrate those users to Itanium.

Vanguard evaluated technologies from the major vendors, each of which Best said he feels has the capability to produce systems that can leapfrog the others at different points in time. Best said that when his company took a "snapshot" of what was available, he decided on Superdome because he felt it would provide the transaction power he needed, maintain standards compliance and be backed up with good service.

Vanguard is also installing the Odyssey reservation system from Perot Systems Corp.

The goal is to begin rolling the new systems into production at the start of July and to complete the work by the middle of the month. From the perspective of Vanguard's top management, Best said, the IT project is "the No. 1 project that the company has."

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