Toronto Star inks deal for mainframe software

Executives with The Toronto Star say they have already seen cost reductions by replacing the newspaper’s existing mainframe software with applications from Computer Associates.


Star noted a 33 per cent cut in costs since implementing CA’s Unicenter software last year. Potential savings is why the country’s largest daily migrated to CA’s solutions from products from BMC Software and Levy Ray & Shoupe, said Rick Takashima, data centre and technical support manager at the Toronto Star.

Choosing CA meant the Star would save “”in the area of about tens of thousands of dollars a year,”” Takashima said.

The Star touted increased functionality as another benefit. “”If I wanted to add some functionality –for instance, to be able to handle printing over a TCP/IP network–I was going to have to buy an extra cost option from the vendor,”” he said, referring to software from Levy Ray & Shoupe.

“”It was going to be a five-figure sum of money. And, of course, then there would be the ongoing increased, annual maintenance and support fee for this additional functionality.””

He said the CA-Spool Print Management bundles in TCP/IP support and allows the Star finally to move its printing to this platform. “”It’s reduced the complexity of our network. So it’s made our job a little easier in that respect.””

The software will also allow the Star to undertake other tasks in the future such as eliminate its front-end processor, Takashima explained.

In adding CA’s solutions, the Star encountered a few typical hitches. Being longtime users of products from Levy Ray & Shoupe and BMC Software, the newspaper found it difficult to switch to a solution with a different structure.

“”Then there was the challenge of training the operations staff to use the new software. Like all people, (they) were somewhat resistant to change. So we had to make sure we presented it in a positive way.””

CA helped the Star adjust to the new software by dispatching the technical services group to Takashima’s office, who has only two systems programmers covering everything from security to performance analysis. He said the service, which cost between $20,000 to $30,000, eliminates time poring over product manuals.

CA has another service called the rescue program that helps customers select CA software to replace a competitive product , said Jeanette Stroud, vice-president of product management, mainframe solutions, at Mississauga, Ont.-based Computer Associates Canada.

CA’s rescue program differs from its technical support service, in that, “”Once our sales group as well as our customer advocates . . . determine that the customer would be better off implementing some CA software, that is where our technical services would get involved,”” said Stroud.

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