Philippine govt dumps IBM, heads to Oracle-HP

Country's pension agency ditches IBM and starts migration to system running Oracle database and HP servers, ending months of tensed relationship with Big Blue.
Written by Melvin G. Calimag, Contributor

MANILA--Apparently exasperated over its problems with IBM, the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) has announced it has started migrating to a new IT system running Oracle database and Hewlett-Packard servers.

The GSIS and IBM have been embroiled in a dispute--in and out of the courtroom--in which the social security agency alleged IBM provided defective database software. Big Blue has insisted it is not directly involved in the service contract with GSIS, since the software was implemented through an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) arrangement with SAP.

The GSIS said the court case, which was initiated in June, would proceed even as the new IT system is being deployed.

The local government agency also formally introduced its new information security officer, Jonathan Pineda, who will assume the role once held by Edilberto Ocampo, a former official who left abruptly before he was formally fired by the GSIS for allegedly approving the "anomalous" deal with IBM.

Pineda, in a meeting Tuesday with a group of reporters, said he expects to complete the system migration by January 2010. To minimize disruptions, the GSIS is looking at a feasible window, perhaps during the Christmas break, to complete the transition.

No figures were revealed regarding the cost of the new IT infrastructure. The GSIS spent some 40 million pesos (US$863,530) to acquire IBM's DB2 software and P-series servers.

Both Oracle and HP have yet to comment on the new contract.

Pineda said the GSIS will discard its entire IBM installation since it "will no longer have any use [for it] once the new system goes live".

However, he said its SAP applications--deployed alongside the IBM system--would still be used in the Oracle-HP infrastructure. He revealed that the GSIS recently signed a long-term service contract with SAP Philippines.

The tussle between IBM and the GSIS intensified last week after the government agency's system, tasked to process loans for members affected by the recent flood, malfunctioned.

Pineda said his CTO Henry Agudo wrote to IBM Philippines requesting a remedy, to which Big Blue responded and pointed the GSIS to SAP, which should then relay the problem back to IBM.

A spokesman for IBM Philippines said this was the proper route because the GSIS procured its database from SAP, which has global alliance with IBM.

Melvin G. Calimag is a freelance IT writer based in the Philippines.

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