Gartner: S'pore SOE not so easy

The government aims to save US$367.5 million by standardizing various computing components in a utility fashion, but past experiences show savings could be negated, says Gartner.

The Singapore's government's SOEasy project to standardize desktop, network and messaging components across 74 government agencies may not be so easy after all, according to a new study from Gartner.

In the report titled "Singapore Government signs up for 'not so easy' IT transformation and infrastructure services utility deal", analysts Jim Longwood and Richard Ni pointed out that deals such as the SOEasy tend to be long and complex, and "rarely deliver the degree of cost savings expected".

The Singapore government is believed to be the first in Asia to undertake a project of such scale and for such a diverse range of agencies. Valued at S$1.3 billion (US$955.5 million), the SOEasy project was awarded to the oneMeridian consortium led by IT services company EDS International on Feb. 28.

The project aims to achieve, over an eight-year period, savings of up to S$500 million (US$367.5 million), but the government has not announced baseline costs or identified expectations of where savings can specifically be achieved, noted Gartner.

Based on earlier studies, the analyst house added that savings could be derived from standardizing operating environments and applications such as e-mail, moving toward a more utility-based or pay-per-use model, and use of managed printing services.

However, the savings that might be achieved in such projects are often negated by factors such as unexpected cost increases and longer than expected implementation times, "even if some key elements of the original deal intent, such as benefits of standardization, are achieved", Gartner said.

"Unless well-managed and strong cooperation is received from all agencies involved, the 28 percent operational savings seems optimistic," the authors noted.

Despite the inherent challenges, Gartner pointed out that federal and state governments should consider such whole-of-government initiatives, to reap the benefits of standardization and aggregation of buying power.

oneMeridian responsibilities and providers for SOEasy*
Prime contractorEDS
Management of data centers and help desksEDS
Delivery of design, infrastructure, implementation, maintenance, field services, hardware provisioningEDS, SCS
Management of desktopsEDS, SCS
Security solution implementation and deploymentFrontline Technologies
Migration of Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange platformsAvanade
Managed print servicesFuji-Xerox
Provision of desktopsProviders under final evaluation
Provision of storage equipmentProviders under final evaluation
Provision of server equipmentSun Microsystems
Provision of equipment and services for monitoring and networksCisco Systems
Provision of equipment and services for networks and IP telephonyProviders under final evaluation
Provision of Exchange applicationsMicrosoft
Provision of gateway servicesSingTel
*Extracted from Gartner's Disruptive utility service makes its way into the Singapore government

The report detailed recommendations for such deals, such as the need to focus on stakeholder buy-in and participation in governance framework and processes. In addition, Gartner said strong yet flexible service-level and operating-level agreements need to be worked out among the various parties, while periodic reviews and ongoing innovation are contributing factors to the success of these projects.

More SOEasy details emerge
While the consortium members have relatively defined roles in SOEasy, the dust has not settled on the providers of desktops and storage equipment, according to a separate Gartner report authored by Jacqueline Heng, Lillian Tay, Lam Lai-ling and Suzie Low.

In the Apr. 25 document, the analysts noted that the consortium needs to manage the transition of PC brands quickly as existing agency contracts start to expire, while PC vendors need to know the outcome early to prepare to ramp up supply.

Notable hardware and services providers include Frontline Technologies for security-related implementation, Fuji-Xerox for managed printing services, and Sun Microsystems for server equipment. EDS and Singapore Computer Systems will undertake activities such as the management of desktops, data centers and helpdesks.

Gartner advised suppliers to the consortium to work out clear responsibilities and expectations. The relationship should not focus only on hardware provision without any involvement of services, as that would make margins tight, said the authors.


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