CGI lands lucrative contract

CGI Group Inc. announced this month that it has inked a 10-year, $181-million IT outsourcing deal with Houston-based Air Liquide America LP.

Air Liquide is an international group specializing in industrial and medical gases and related services. The company operates in 65 countries and employs over 30,000 individuals.

Headquartered in Montreal, CGI provides IT services and business solutions that include consulting, systems integration and the management of business functions. With this deal, CGI will assume the responsibility for the day-to-day functions of Air Liquide’s North American IT functions such as data centre operations, desktop management, distributed computing, telecommunication operations as well as application support and development.

For its part, CGI will not be handling Air Liquide’s hardware at the desktop level – although it will offer support – nor will it handle the network itself, as a third vendor already has claim to those services.

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, CGI’s data centre in Phoenix will link up and house servers that will then connect back to the Houston location, said Michael Filak, senior vice-president of business engineering at CGI in Dallas.

With an outsourcing market that is filled with big names like IBM, Accenture and EDS, Filak said that what separates CGI from the pack is going beyond the norms of standardization in outlining and provisioning an outsourcing engagement.

“We give our customers flexibility and choice in terms of what they want to do and how they want to use their equipment going forward. It’s their environment,” he said.

In Canada, most customers are choosing to sign deals that are five or more years in length, but the real key to such endeavours is a company’s experience with outsourcing itself and the negotiations aspect of the service level agreement, said Joe Natale, vice-president and country leader for Canada at BearingPoint LP, an IT consulting firm in Toronto.

What has evolved in terms of outsourcing deals is that companies are moving past the basic requirements of infrastructure, data centre and data centre support, Natale said. The definition of outsourcing itself has expanded to include telecommunications, application management and remote management of the network.

In the short-term, “There is an opportunity for providing more application management support. It’s a logic extension for the client to say, ‘Now that we have this all-singing and all-dancing application, we need to strike a deal to provide that support on an ongoing basis,'” Natale said.