Bombardier Recreational Products is preparing to standardize its operating system environment as part of a complete overhaul of its desktop, server and storage infrastructure.

The Valcourt, Que.-based firm, which makes Sea-Doos,

Ski-Doos and outboard engines, signed a seven-year deal for an undisclosed amount with Dell on Tuesday, which will include the provision of both products and services including desktop support, asset and image management for more than 5,200 systems. The project will plan multiple Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) locations in Canada, the United States and Europe.

Real Deslauriers, BRP’s vice-president of information systems, said the company had neglected or postponed some upgrades in its end-user environment following considerable investment around the year 2000. Although many of its desktops were already Dell machines, he said the company had only begun to introduce Dell servers and printers when it began searching for a partner to assist in its transformation.

“”It was not because we already had an existing relationship,”” he said. “”We took a white page approach, but of course there is a bit of continuum in having used Dell in the past.””

The first stage of the project will see BRP design a new operating environment that will be based on Microsoft software but will be validated and installed in more standard ways, he said. The goal is to lower costs but also improve service delivery to the firm’s end-users, he added. At the moment, BRP is a mix of everything from Windows 95 to XP, with software installations of Office 97, Exchange and Lotus Notes. That design is expected to be complete by May, he said, after which the balance of the contract will involve Dell maintaining and supporting BRP’s pared-down infrastructure.

“”Prior to this transformation we had X numbers of servers, scattered around the world, and we’ve set some very specific targets in terms of server, printer and storage consolidation,”” he said.

Dell director of service and sales Don Kerr said the company is seeing an interest in infrastructure overhaul across its entire installed base, particularly as some products, including some versions of Microsoft software, have been de-commissioned or are no longer supported.

“”If you take a look at a server, what you can do with a server in 2005 versus (what you could do in) 2000 is dramatically different,”” he said.

While many enterprise organizations are evaluating alternatives to Microsoft products, including open source software such as Linux, Deslauriers said BRP wants to maintain as few different technologies as possible. “”We’ve done the same kind of strategy that we’re sticking to on the ERP, for example, with SAP,”” he said. “”Not to say we won’t question that on an ongoing basis, but for the moment, on a large-scale deployment, we believe that with Microsoft we can achieve our goals.””

Kerr said Dell, which has moved more aggressively into the enterprise services space in the last two years, is in the process of extracting some of the best practices it has learned from various customers. “”We’re extracting from each engagement and codifying it into a methodology,”” he said. “”It’s really that exact focus on leveraging the knowledge we’ve gained across the installed base.””

The contract includes Dell servers, storage, desktops, notebooks, workstations and printers.

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