Snowmobile maker streamlines its IT systems in deal wih Dell

Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), a Valcourt, Que.-based snowmobile and watercraft maker whose brands include Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo and Evinrude, recently signed a seven-year technology products and services contract with Dell Inc.

Under the agreement, BRP will purchase 5,200 Dell systems, including servers, storage devices, desktops, notebooks, workstations and printers. The estimated $40 million dollar deal covers its locations in the U.S., Canada and Europe, said Real Deslauriers, vice-president of information systems at BRP. With a variety of global locations and remote sites there is a level of volatility involved with controlling the systems, Deslauriers said. BRP is seeking to standardize its products and services and intends to consolidate its PCs on a single Microsoft Corp. platform by the end of the year. The initiative will enable BRP to focus on its core competency, he added.

According to Don Kerr, director of service and sales at Dell, the Round Rock, Tex.-based firm will also provide a suite of professional and managed services for BRP. These include desktop support, application packaging, server and storage consolidation, Active Directory and Exchange services.

As a global organization, there are benefits to lowering the cost of computing and improving overall security by running all of BRP’s facilities on a standard platform, according to Deslauriers. The hardware provisioning aspect of the contract means Dell will take on some services that were previously done in-house. This includes help desk, install and repair services.

According to Deslauriers, BRP was due for an infrastructure overhaul. BRP’s last major infrastructure change was in 2001. It was time to renew the entire end-user computing environment from desktop and notebooks to servers and storage, he said.

BRP is primarily a Microsoft shop, Deslauriers added, but it was running older software including Windows 95, Office 97, Lotus Notes and Exchange. The firm wants to consolidate all of its servers and printers on Windows XP running on a single instance of Active Directory, he added.

The present end-user computing environment has some Dell desktops but that ultimately wasn’t a factor in choosing the vendor, Deslauriers said. BRP took a “white paper approach” and decided that Dell offered a better value proposition in terms of global reach and service flexibility compared to its competitors. The deal is less a matter of being “locked in” and more about outsourcing certain internal functions, Deslauriers said.

Dell will manage BRP’s e-mail, database and related computer systems. BRP is convinced that a product manufacturer would be the best at servicing its systems, and thus the company decided to go with Dell end-to-end, Deslauriers said. BRP is currently moving into the validation stage to ensure everything will be compatible with the new environment. Rollout is set for May.

According to Kerr, enterprises are demanding more on the services side. He said businesses that adopted a big bang approach to outsourcing quickly discovered that handing the keys over to a vendor wasn’t the best way to go. He added that BRP would retain control of its mission critical functions.

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