Newham Borough Council's IT hardware refresh, involving a £16m, 10-year deal with Hewlett-Packard, has proved harder to implement than originally anticipated.
The contract, signed in December 2004, includes the roll-out of Proliant blade servers, the design and implementation of storage systems, and new desktop, notebook and tablet PCs.
As well as updating the council's desktops, the project involves the rationalisation of its servers. Steel said he experienced delays in installing the central blade server infrastructure due to the power and weight issues of blade technology.
Steel said, "When the project began, our expectation was that weight would not go up." But he found the datacentre floor was unable to cope with the weight of the blade racks and he had to set up a temporary datacentre in an air-conditioned portable building.
As reported in Computer Weekly last week, Newham has had to wait for the installation of an electricity sub station to support the additional power used by the blade servers. Steel said, "You get a hell of a lot of power in a small space."
The central blade server infrastructure is due to be switched on this month. Once this is up and running, the council will roll out Microsoft Active Directory and single sign-on for end-users as well as starting the desktop PC refresh.
Steel said, "Once the roll-out commences, one objective is to manage down IT equipment." He plans to assess how and where staff use their computers - home users should not need a PC both at work and at home, for example.
Steel's next project is to discontinue the use of handheld computers at the council. "Handheld computers are used for personal information management and e-mail and you can do that with a mobile phone," he said.
The council is planning to deploy the Messaging and Security Feature Pack for Windows Mobile 5.0, software based on wireless features in Exchange Server 2003 with Service Pack 2. This will provide staff with access to Microsoft Exchange e-mail from a Windows Mobile 5.0-based smartphone. "We will use notebooks and tablet PCs for more substantial work," said Steel.
Through a service run by mobile operator Orange, the council's mobile phones all support home and business numbers, said Steel. Personal calls and business calls are billed separately.