Early cost cuts key to United revamp

United Utilities has begun upgrading its 3,000-plus desktops to Windows XP Service Pack 2 in a project that the firm's IT operation hopes will prove the value of a wider business transformation project underway at the company.

United Utilities has begun upgrading its 3,000-plus desktops to Windows XP Service Pack 2 in a project that the firm's IT operation hopes will prove the value of a wider business transformation project underway at the company.

The desktop upgrade is the first project in a four-year business transformation programme, known as Magellan, that is expected to reduce United Utilities' IT running costs from £30m to £22.5m a year, according to the terms of a contract signed by United Utilities with its own systems integrator division, Vertex.

The electricity and water company's operations manager Andy Harper said, "The key driver for the upgrade was to generate not only cost savings but also sufficient traction from our board so that the Magellan programme could be seen to be delivering value early in its life."

United Utilities, which was created out of the merger of Norweb and North West Water, started the desktop upgrade in July by migrating its most remote users onto XP. The decision to carry out the most time-consuming upgrades first means that so far only about 250 of the 3,000 machines have been upgraded.

The peak period for upgrade activity will be over Christmas, when the IT department takes advantage of the public holiday to upgrade hundreds of computers.

In addition to the desktop upgrade, Vertex has been working on a second business transformation project to consolidate United Utilities' 1,300-plus servers.

The project will begin by consolidating the Citrix servers and will then look at using virtualisation software to achieve additional savings.

United Utilities expects to award additional business to Vertex from its separate IT budget for projects requiring capital investment.

Read article: Utility launches live network map

Comment on this article: computer.weekly@rbi.co.uk
This was last published in November 2006

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