IBM extends links with Department of Veterans' Affairs

In a deal tipped to be worth close to $30 million, the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) has extended its IT services contract with IBM Global Services to February 2007.

The deal cements IBM's hold over a major upgrade and restructure of DVA's IT environment, which aimed to improve access to applications for 3000 users while reducing operating costs through the introduction of voice over IP (VoIP) and other customer channel delivery mechanisms.

The DVA transformation project was managed via a governance and operational structure that enabled the IBM and DVA teams to share resources and utilize a single meeting and reporting format for the duration of the upgrade.

A significant feature of the upgrade includes jettisoning PC-based workstations in favour of thin client technology, with 1500 skinny terminals rolled out.

A new VoIP communications network was also introduced providing bolstered security for communications between IBM staff and DVA for systems management.

The VoIP network replaces the DVA's PABXs with a view to DVA integrating its voice, data and applications as they are progressively upgraded in due course. DVA's national network is also now monitored on a 24x7 basis from the IBM network operations centre in Sydney.

According to deputy president Ian Campbell of the Repatriation Commission - part of the DVA, the success of the project augurs well for the department to leverage off the strategic capability the new infrastructure offers.

"We are pleased that our relationship with IBM, which began in 1997, continues to grow in line with our specific needs," Campbell said.

DVA CIO Bob Hay said the combined DVA and IBM project team overcame significant technical challenges to deliver real benefits to DVA staff. "Following the upgrade, DVA has an innovative and cost-effective technology environment that will meet our business needs," Hay said.

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