HP Canada aims to increase its expertise in the energy sector through the extension of two outsourcing contracts in Alberta worth a total of more than $40 million.

Calgary-based TransAlta,

with coal, gas and hydro energy generation facilities around the world, has worked with HP for more than a dozen years. Over that time, HP has expanded its relationship with the company to manage more and more of its IT assets. TransAlta would not divulge the length of this latest contract extension with HP, but CIO Greg Wilson said it was a long-term arrangement.

TransAlta’s expansion beyond the Canadian market into the U.S., Mexico and Australia has meant relying on HP to fulfill more IT requirements, he said.

“”We did a big desktop rollout last year, and they (HP) were instrumental in that,”” said Wilson. “”We don’t have enough people in our remote locations. We don’t have even enough people in even our large locations to do a major project. We’re staffed to a minimum level right now and we’re relying on HP to take any bumps in the road and smooth those out for us.””

A number of TransAlta’s personnel moved over to HP during a previous contract, but additional transfers won’t be necessary under the contract extension, said Wilson. The company employs 2,500 people.

Under the new contract, HP’s responsibilities include all helpdesk and desktop management, as well as management of infrastructure. HP will manage all of TransAlta’s IT up to and including middleware, but not the enterprise applications that run on top, said the director of business development for HP’s managed services practice Scott Collinson. HP may provide hardware as needed and will undertake a server consolidation project for TransAlta in the future.

“”As the relationship moves along, so does the scope of the relationship. We are essentially doing everything but providing the actual data centre itself,”” said Collinson.

TransAlta will continue to host its own servers, but they will be operated from HP’s data centres in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa.

“”Customers, for various reasons, do that. They’ve got the space and it’s a sunken cost. We looked at a number of alternatives and this one made the most sense,”” said Collinson.

HP has also announced an agreement with AltaLink, a Calgary-based company that maintains and operates 11,850 km of transmission lines and about 260 substations in Alberta. AltaLink serves 85 per cent of the province’s population.

That HP arrived at agreements with two Alberta energy companies at roughly the same time is largely a coincidence, according to Collinson. The outsourcing deals are separate. However, the firms share a history: AltaLink bought TransAlta’s transmission business back in 2001 for approximately $850 million.

HP has worked with AltaLink in the past and will manage the company’s “”end user computing”” needs, said Collinson. That includes: desktop support, remote technical support, PC lifecycle and network management. A spokesperson for AltaLink was unavailable for comment at press time.

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