Calyx wins €3.5m IT contract with 47 NI colleges

1 Jun 2010

Colleges Northern Ireland (CNI) has signed a €3.5m four-year contract with Calyx to provide managed services and a technology refresh across 47 college campuses.

The IT specialist was selected by CNI, the representative body of the six regional colleges, to be the single provider to educational facilities with wide-ranging and complex requirements.

Services range from centrally hosted applications to on-site systems, all wrapped in a fully managed service. Part of the contract was a hardware refresh and a move to a virtualised server platform in a centralised data centre.

“The deal is one of our most significant in Northern Ireland, highlighting how the breadth and scope of Calyx enables us to become trusted partners to organisations with diverse and complex needs,” said Andrew Miller, head of Enterprise Sales, Calyx Group.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with the colleges in Northern Ireland, helping them get the best out of an evolving IT estate.”

About the Calyx solution

At the core of the Calyx solution is a cutting-edge delivery platform, a combination of Citrix Xen Desktop and VMware vSphere in a virtualised data centre that hosts Agresso, the college’s business-critical ERP system. New Dell servers and a SAN solution for the primary and disaster-recovery site will also be deployed.

Calyx will also manage the existing infrastructure that runs the local HR, administration and critical student applications. Support and service level agreements were important components of the deal, with Calyx providing a single help desk for all aspects of the service, managed services and break/fix for every site. 

Southern Regional College director Brian Doran, who headed up the project board for the colleges, said, “This is an important contract for the colleges. It brings together a number of core services and delivers significant cost savings for each member college. This ‘one-stop shop’ brings together the handling of student data, human resources, estates and financial management.

“It also demonstrates that when we work together, the colleges can achieve not just significant savings but also secure very high levels of service agreement.”

Enterprise environment

Colleges Northern Ireland went to market looking for a single provider with the knowledge and experience to become a one-stop shop, bringing two different managed entities together under one roof. Calyx had already been responsible for the ERP piece of the service but now steps up to run the entire environment.

“Having just one service provider makes it much simpler for the colleges in Northern Ireland. Our job is to manage the multiple suppliers, optimise the environment, and deliver the best possible service back to the CNI,” said Miller.

CNI chief executive John D’Arcy, added: “Colleges Northern Ireland, as the contracting authority, worked closely with all six colleges to ensure that we could put together a contract for services that was able to meet their needs. We are delighted that Calyx worked with us so closely to ensure that the package we have in place will do that.”

Calyx saw off stiff competition to win the contract. Miller puts it down to the breadth of the proposal combined with the ability to meet strict UK government procurement guidelines around ISO standards, information security, best-practice IT management and value for money.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Tara Brady, CEO, Calyx; John D’Arcy, chief executive, Colleges Northern Ireland; Brian Doran, director, Southern Regional College; and Andrew Miller, head of Enterprise Sales, Calyx

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years