Kent signs £10m PC deal

Kent County Council has signed a £10m contract that will allow it to replace and support its desktops for about £200 per seat per year.

Kent County Council has signed a £10m contract that will allow it to replace and support its desktops for about £200 per seat per year.

The average cost of supporting a desktop is £1,368, according to Gartner analyst Brian Gammage.

Under the five-year agreement, Kent County Council is paying IBM to both supply and maintain 9,000 desktops and 150 servers. IBM will deploy Thinkcentre desktop PCs to all 9,000 seats over the next three years.

In the final two years of the contract, IBM will replace two-thirds of the desktops so that no one at the council has a PC that is more than three years old.

Tony Lock, chief analyst at Bloor Research, said, "The bulk of the cash is spent on the management of the hardware. It is very easy to ensure you save money on the procurement."

Although Kent County Council has spent just £1,100 per seat over five years, it remains difficult to tell whether it has got a good deal, Lock said.

The £10m cost of the contract covers the deployment of 9,000 identical machines. If the council's IT department decides that some staff need different devices, such as notebook or tablet PCs, it will have to pay extra.

Lock said, "IT users should put into any agreement with the supplier ways to change requirements, because forecasting IT needs is like trying to forecast next week's lottery numbers."

However, the cost of 9,000 PCs, 6,000 replacement PCs and 150 servers, including maintenance, may have been greater if the council had bought them directly. "The customer might be hard pushed to get that amount of hardware at that price," said Lock.

IBM will be paid under a service credit system - it receives less money if it fails to meet the service level agreement. "The service level is 99.9% availability," said Peter Bole, ISG programme manager at the council.

The council said it decided to hand its desktop and server management to a supplier so that it could concentrate on using IT for frontline services and delivering e-government.

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