The Ansett Australia/Air New Zealand group has signed a massive contract to outsource management of its mainframe and midrange systems to IBM.
The deal, confirmed to be worth "millions of dollars" and offering "millions of dollars in savings" for the group, is part of a strategy for the airlines to combine its IT infrastructure, following Air New Zealand's acquisition of Ansett Australia on 23 June 2000.
Cameron Hill, group public affairs, Ansett Australia/Air New Zealand refused to comment on the contract's exact worth, but stated that the overall project will "last for three years".
IBM New Zealand and IBM Global Services Australia have been selected as the preferred suppliers of mainframe and Unix/mid range services to the group.
The company said a single data centre would be established at the group's Tullamarine IT base in Melbourne, with technical support provided from both Australia and New Zealand.
Air New Zealand's CEO, Gary Toomey said: "The integration of IT to a single infrastructure will make an enormous difference to many aspects of our everyday business."
The IBM deal is bad news for Fujitsu New Zealand, which won an outsourcing contract last year to manage Air New Zealand's midrange systems at the Newton data centre in Auckland.
Last May, Air New Zealand invited systems integrator gen-i, Sun Microsystems agent Solnet, and Fujitsu to tender for the midrange contract.
IBM, which already had the mainframe-outsourcing contract with the airline, dating back to 1997, was not asked to take part.
Fujitsu hired 30 extra staff to service the midrange contract, which provides day-to-day service and support for Air New Zealand's Sun hardware running Oracle databases.
However, according to an industry source, Air New Zealand discovered hefty penalty clauses in the existing IBM contract, which appears to have persuaded it to give the new data centre contract entirely to IBM, including midrange systems management.
Fujitsu marketing manager Bill Dashfield said the company was still managing Air New Zealand's midrange data centre in Auckland, but the two companies were in discussions following the Ansett acquisition.
IBM has also ousted Compaq as the supplier of the group's 11,500 desktop PCs.
The desktop computer management services contract was awarded to gen-i, which has provided these services to Air New Zealand for the past three years.