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IBM, NFL End Tech Partnership

Big Blue says it no longer shares the same playbook as the National Football League when it comes to IT game plan.

9 Security Technologies For Super Bowl And Beyond
9 Security Technologies For Super Bowl And Beyond
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The National Football League and IBM have decided not to continue a nine-year old technology marketing and services relationship, an IBM spokesman said Wednesday.

The high-profile engagement saw IBM provide the NFL with everything from run of the mill IT services to scoreboard and stats systems for the Super Bowl. IBM also helped the league modernize and run its data center in Mt. Laurel, N.J.

IBM's spokesman said the company "chose" not to renew its deal with the NFL, but offered few other details. An e-mail to NFL information technology VP Nancy Galietti seeking more information was not immediately returned.

Whatever it was that soured the relationship between Big Blue and the NFL clearly developed within the past several weeks. As recently as mid-April, IBM held a press soiree in New York City at which Galietti appeared with IBM CIO Jeanette Horan to tout the partnership.

Last September, Galietti was in a video highlighting the accomplishments the league achieved with IBM, including taking its data center from 5% virtualized to 95% virtualized. "We had a great team of people from the NFL that we teamed together with the great team from IBM, and together delivered terrific outcomes," Galietti says in the video [below].

[ What impacts workers more: outsourcing or automation? See Outsourcing or Automation: No Difference To Unemployed Workers. ]

The deal is the latest in a series of high-profile tech services engagements that IBM has either been let go or walked away from. Sources said that in March, Disney handed off a $100 million contract, which had previously been with IBM, to Indian outsourcer HCL. IBM was also terminated from a contract to provide services to Indiana's Family and Social Services Administration, prompting a lawsuit and countersuit between the parties that remains ongoing.

A source at one state agency that had problems with an IBM contract recently told InformationWeek he felt that the company did not devote enough manpower to his organization. IBM has reduced U.S. headcount considerably in recent years as it ramps up its use of offshore personnel in regions such as South Asia and Latin America.

Despite these incidents, there are no signs that IBM's tech services business is suffering from customer attrition on a broad scale. IBM's revenue from IT outsourcing increased 7% last year, to $40.9 billion, despite the flat tech spending environment.

It's expected that IBM will continue its other sports technology sponsorships, including deals with the United States Tennis Association and the PGA.

At a time when cybercrime has never been more prolific and sophisticated, budgets are being cut. In response, IT is taking a hard look using third-party services--outsourcing--to meet security challenges. Our Making The Security Outsourcing Decision report outlines the various security outsourcing options available. (Free registration required.)

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