Sasktel signs with ISM for mainframe, printing services

SaskTel tapped ISM Canada in an agreement valued at more than $29 million to provide mainframe, printing and mailing services.

The four-year deal involving ISM Canada, an IBM Canada subsidiary, improves on a previous arrangement to host SaskTel’s billing system.

“It has an improved definition for privacy and confidentiality, along with privacy commissioner recommendations,” said SaskTel spokesperson Michelle Englot.

Although Saskatchewan’s privacy legislation is not new, Englot said privacy issues are continually scrutinized in the province.

The deal also offers “more in terms of higher capacity and (a) state-of-the-art processor they’re providing with improved flexibility within the contract for adjusting the amount of capacity SaskTel uses.”

SaskTel found that it was “bumping up against some capacity challenges on the old contract that we had,” Dan McMurtry, president and CEO of Regina-based ISM Canada, said.

ISM Canada was able to add capacity at relatively inexpensive rates, he added.

SaskTel’s business challenges centre on the evolution of technology, customer growth, pricing flexibility and adjusting for capacity, Englot said.

She said rather than increasing the number of network accesses, SaskTel’s growth focuses on adding more value-added products and services, such as the Max Entertainment offering broadband over TV.

SaskTel chose ISM Canada because it has so far provided a “fairly satisfactory” solution, and has a good understanding of the telecommunications company’s business, she said.

“There was an element of cost-competitiveness that they were looking for,” McMurtry said of SaskTel’s decision.

“Second of all, there was a lower risk in staying with us because we were the existing provider,” he said. “There were really no issues with the service that we’ve been providing” over the last 15 years.

The primary reason that SaskTel re-jigged its contract is because of cost competitiveness, said McMurtry. “We really focused on (adding) technologies” to their business.

SaskTel’s mainframe supports many key business applications, including the main billing system. The new agreement includes system software and hardware support and maintenance, capacity planning, storage, back-up and recovery, help-desk services, disaster recovery services, as well as collaborative security management and network support.

Although SaskTel’s competitors include traditional long-distance carriers and cell-phone operators, these days rivals also may be found among small, local players now entering the market, McMurtry said.

“I think they’ve always been a cost-competitive or cost-focused organization, but I think competition cranks up in all of those spaces… “

ISM Canada is entrenched in Saskatchewan and includes clients such as the provincial government and crown corporations such as Farm Credit Canada, but also has contracts with the B.C. government and does specialized work for other customers.

ISM Canada competes with other players in the outsourcing industry, like CGI and EDS, as well as smaller firms on the application-management side, and several organizations across Canada for its printing service.

“Like everybody, we’re seeing more and more competition and they’re coming from different places,” said McMurtry.  

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