IRS signs mega-deal for electronic software upgrades

AND BY ORLANDO De BRUCE (orlando_debruce@fcw.com)

In one of the largest deals of its kind by a civilian agency, the Internal Revenue Service this week signed a $120 million deal for the electronic delivery of, and upgrades of, Microsoft Corp. software for 130,000 desktops nationwide.

The IRS signed the blanket purchase agreement with ITC, formerly IntelliSys Technology Corp., as the prime integrator. Microsoft will supply the software, and Beyond.com will distribute and maintain all the software electronically through its CacheManager 2.0 distribution system.

The five-year contract includes licenses for Microsoft's Windows NT Server and Workstation, Office Pro or Office 2000, Back Office Server, Exchange Enterprise and Project98. The IRS already has many of these products installed, and the contract will cover upgrades for the new software and the installed base.

The Beyond.com system allows a systems administrator to deliver software to widely distributed desktops over a network rather than going to each desk individually.

Beyond.com's electronic software delivery system was a major factor in the deal because of the advantages of being able to install the software on systems across the country in stages over the Internet, according to Tim Schmidt, director of the end-user computing support division at the IRS.

In addition to the discount that comes with volume software purchasing, the savings that come from electronically distributing software, instead of manually installing it, can be large, especially in a nationwide deployment like the IRS requires, said Kendall Fargo, Beyond.com's vice president of enterprise and government.

"[Considering] the total cost of ownership on receiving software electronically rather than shipping boxes out and installing the software from disks or CDs, you probably have savings of 50 percent," he said.

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