Unisys said it is to target its managed network services business at th UK local authority market, as analysts predict a continuing trend towards outsourcing of local and wide area networks.
This month Norfolk County Council announced a #3 million, five-year contract to Unisys Global Customer Services, to install and manage a corporate backbone for all the authority's departments.
Unisys GCS has now picked up three major contracts in the space of nine months to manage local council networks. Alister Sibbald, programme manager at Unisys GCS, said he believes the company could significantly increase its eight per cent share of the large council market within a year.
Last year, Essex and Suffolk County Councils signed five-year contracts for similar amounts. Martin Canning, senior analyst at IDC, said councils were increasingly seeing the benefit of passing management of their non-core business to outsourcers.
"IT personnel are expensive and companies have to keep those skills up to date - that is a considerable investment. Just when you have got them skilled on your particular network, it becomes difficult to keep them. External providers offer a certain level of consistency," he explained.
Canning confirmed that across Europe, a growing number of organisations were considering or progressing with outsourcing their network management.
Len Graves, County IT and financial services officer for Essex County Council - which signed a #3 million outsourcing deal with Unisys last year - said the council's X.25 wide area network had been unable to cope with new applications, requiring a major upgrade.
"Using Unisys managed networking services will give us the network platform and service levels to offer improved services to the ratepayer. The technology is moving so fast that it's better for us to contract it out to an expert so that we can concentrate on our core services," he said.
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