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DWP to tender for mainframe platform suppliers in contract worth up to £300m

The Department for Work and Pensions is looking for mainframe services suppliers to help update IT systems

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is on the hunt for mainframe services suppliers as part of its IT transformational programme.

The DWP plans to procure a full range of virtual machine environment (VME) services, including the “provision, installation, development, operation, maintenance, support transition and decommission of VME systems” in an initial four-year contract worth between £250m and £300m, according to a prior information notice (PIN) posted on the Official Journal of the European Union.

The PIN forms part of the department’s plans to deliver a service tower-based model, separating the IT components into different chunks to allow for greater competition and aligning its business needs.

The VME mainframe services have been fully managed by Fujitsu since the system was first installed in 1974. Most of the DWP’s critical IT systems still run on the proprietary operating system, originally developed by ICL before its acquisition by Fujitsu.

The PIN suggests the department could look to divide the services between suppliers, as the DWP is “examining the potential for disaggregating requirements to the smallest practicable packages that still deliver operational efficiency, while remaining broadly aligned to the tower model”.

“VME systems include application software, platform software, operating system, server hardware, storage hardware (including backup), datacentre LAN [local area network], datacentre interconnectivity and the provision of space in datacentre facilities and equipment from two separate locations, currently configured as active-passive,” said the PIN.

“It is intended that these services will be provided on a non-exclusive basis and suppliers may be required to work with other suppliers of similar or component services at the direction of the DWP.”

The move is in line with its DWP Revised SME Action Plan – May 2014, where the department promised to increase its spend with small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). However, the DWP has yet to decide if it wishes to divide the services into several lots or procurements, which – according to the document – will only be “communicated in any subsequent contract notice”.

The current VME estate includes two datacentres, 29 physical servers, 50TB storage, 3200 VME MIPS and approximately 24 applications that will require support.

Other IT “towers” include security, tooling and hosting services. All of these will be overseen by a service integration and management (SIAM) integrator. The DWP plans to host a supplier engagement day on 8 September 2015 to discuss its requirements.

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