New Zealand's transport agency is sticking with Unisys, awarding a ten-year extension of the company's major contract to manage core IT infrastructure.
All-of-government infrastructure as a service provider CCL also picks up new business as part of the deal, hosting the systems that support 25 million driver’s licences and 60 million motor vehicle transactions a year.
That is because Unisys plans to close its own local datacentres by next November, prompting many customers to consider their next move.
US-based Unisys has worked with the NZ Transport Agency – Waka Kotahi for nearly thirty years, providing enterprise computing solutions supporting its registry suite, a group of systems for vehicle and driver safety programmes through which agents, commercial customers and the public interact with the agency.
Under the new contract, awarded in the third quarter of 2021, Unisys will provide application services to support the registry suite, and transition the supporting infrastructure out of Unisys' operated facilities. The target infrastructure will be two CCL co-located infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) facilities which Unisys will manage, Andrew Whelan, vice president client management at Unisys Asia Pacific, said.
Unisys will migrate the registry suite, which is based on the Unisys AB Suite cross-platform development application, by the middle of 2022. It will also provide ongoing application development, including a chief architect and client security officer to support the services, a service desk, disaster recovery services and refreshed compute and storage systems on the IaaS model.
“The Waka Kotahi registry system supports three of the most frequent interactions of New Zealand citizens to transact with the government – drivers licences, vehicle registrations and road user charges – so it is critical that it meets customer expectations for reliable, easy-to-use services," Whelan said.
"For many young Kiwis, getting a learner drivers licence is the first touchpoint with a government agency – and the better their initial user experience, the more likely they are to continue using digital channels to obtain other important services throughout their lives.”
Whelan is himself a 22-year Unisys veteran, who joined the company after a couple of years at the transport agency.
The fact the new contract will extend Unisys' relationship with Waka Kotahi to nearly 40 years might appear surprising, however, Whelan told Reseller News the company had retained and maintained many local clients for similar periods.
"It has been one account for Unisys that has been transformed many, many times to keep it relevant in the marketplace from the technologies and the business services we provide," he said. "A lot has changed in there."
A lot of other ancillary services are also supported outside of the register.
"We have worked really hard jointly to get a strong partnership in place," Whelan said. "It's a really strong partnership that we have in place."
Unisys no longer wanted to provide bricks and mortar datacentres, Whelan said, but to provide the value-added services above that.
A project to migrate NZTA's registries to IaaS was under way now scheduled to be complete by the middle of next year. Some infrastructure would also be replaced as part of that shift.
However, Unisys NZ is pursuing a vendor neutral strategy and has agreements in place with the other government IaaS providers, including Datacom, as well as hyperscale cloud providers such as Microsoft, Google and AWS.
Whelan was not prepared to go into why CCL was selected but said both IaaS options were presented to the client. With hyperscale cloud not yet available locally, restrictions around the hosting of sensitive data applied.
"There will be a lot of considerations that Waka Kotahi and Unisys will need to work through as those providers do establish those facilities here," he said. "No doubt that will be part of the decision and the strategy that goes forward. Once those capabilities are on the ground we will obviously be looking at those if it is the right decision those things will be considered at the time."
For now, the shift out of the Unisys datacentres is a transition rather than a replatforming and the software can reside on any open systems or x86-based hardware.
More immediate is the application of low-code, no-code development capabilities at the front end interfacing into the the back end, a strategy other clients are also pursuing.