Cambridge University's examination group has outsourced applications management and support to Cognizant that will see the company replace 20-year-old bespoke applications with off-the-shelf alternatives.
The multi-million pound deal will free up internal IT resources to focus on enhancing technology while Cognizant focuses on maintenance and support.
Cambridge Assessment currently uses 122 different applications which use legacy, web-based, proprietary technologies, as well as databases. Many of these will eventually be replaced by commercially available systems.
Bruno Laquet, director of group infrastructure services at Cambridge Assessment, said the company had a skills issue and had got into the bad habit of stretching maintenance and support staff when it required system changes. "Because the resources are there, we ask them to do enhancements," he said.
The internal resources can now focus on improving systems while the supplier ensures service levels for maintenance and support are met.
Laquet said the contract with Cognizant will reward the supplier if it performs. "Cognizant can do the maintenance how it wants. The contract will not be resource-driven, but Cognizant will have SLAs to meet."
He said it will be in the interest of Cognizant to spot problems early and fix them so they do not happen again. This will improve the application performance in the long run and will mean "better quality and less defects" for the university.