NTA awards €1.4m software deal to Open Sky Data

13 Aug 2012

The National Transport Authority has awarded a €1.4m contract for ICT support and software development services for its business systems to Open Sky Data Systems.

Following a competitive tender with four bidders, the Kildare-based company won the deal. It is a Microsoft Certified Partner, working in .NET, Mobile and SQL Server development, as well as SAP, Java and Oracle technologies.

The scope of the two-year contract calls for a service supplier capable of providing technical support and expertise to maintain and develop the ICT elements of the NTA’s business systems.

“We’re providing a software managed service for the organisation which will enable them to meet some critical business requirements over the next 24 months,” Open Sky MD Michael Cronin told Siliconrepublic.com.

The NTA will effectively outsource most of its application development, application support, programme management, design and implementation of software systems to Open Sky. Most of the development will be on Microsoft’s technology stack, including business intelligence that uses SQL, as well as data warehousing.

According to the notice published on eTenders, the authority will require a range of support services, some of which will be on an ongoing basis and others occurring as needs arise. The contract will involve the provision of operation support and development services for CABS, and for ad-hoc tasks on customisable end-user systems such as databases, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and any other business systems that may be selected by the NTA in future.

Smartphone applications

Open Sky will also be involved in certain applications to smartphones, either on Android or the iOS platforms. Details of this part of the contract have not been disclosed, but Cronin confirmed it would involve taking some desktop software and delivering it to mobile devices used by the authority’s staff.

Cronin said the NTA is a new customer for the company, which works “extensively” with the public sectors in Ireland and the UK, including local authorities. The other side of its business is aimed at the enterprise retail sectors in the UK and Ireland.

As such, the NTA contract is not a major step up for the Kildare company. “I would say we are boxing at that weight in the UK. This level of contract would be something that we go for. It’s not seen as a step up, though obviously it’s great to have a contract like this under our belts.”

The company is creating up to 25 new jobs between this year and early 2013. “That’s not necessarily because of this contract. We have also won other business over the last few months,” said Cronin. 

Like many tech firms, Open Sky is coming up against a shortage of technically skilled recruits when hiring.

“We would be looking for software developers in Microsoft technologies and smartphone development, QA [quality assurance] test resources and good project managers with a track record of experience,” said Cronin.

“We’re finding the hiring climate very difficult at the moment. I don’t think you can make that point enough. Like everyone else, we’re finding it quite hard to find the right type of staff. It’s not good for the industry.”

Gordon Smith was a contributor to Silicon Republic