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By agreeing to let a private company manage its e-mail services, the state of Texas claims it will save millions of dollars, gain communication flexibility and free up state agencies to focus more on core missions and less on IT infrastructure.
Under the deal, IBM Corp. will host up to 65,000 inboxes through its data center in Dallas. Initially, 13 state agencies will participate. Those agencies collectively spend $5 million per year to manage e-mail and, with an outside party in charge, expect to save at least 45 percent.
Agencies will have the option to choose between Lotus Notes, Microsoft Outlook and Web e-mail. But instead of being forced to use just one system for all their employees, agencies can mix and match, tailoring e-mail needs by individual or work group. While one employee may need all the bells and whistles, such as Web conferencing and instant messaging, another may simply need basic e-mail.
The Department of Information Resources handled the bidding for the contract and will play guinea pig, piloting the switch from its current e-mail infrastructure to the new system. Other public entities, such as city governments, police departments, school districts and even out-of-state groups, will follow. DIR spokeswoman Leslie Mueller predicts IBM will be managing well over 100,000 inboxes in one to two years.
"We've already received a lot of interest from several local governments," Mueller says, "which means more buyers, less expense."