Booz Allen Hamilton Turns To Services Firm As It Moves To Do Windows

The managing and consulting firm, a longtime Unix shop, is going outside for expertise in creating a new collaboration infrastructure, beginning with an enterprise messaging system.
Global management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton said this week it has awarded the first phase of its Software Collaboration contract to Internosis. The privately held IT services firm will conceive, create, and construct a collaboration infrastructure, starting with an enterprise messaging system that will serve Booz Allen's 15,000 worldwide employees.

The infrastructure will consist of Microsoft Exchange and related technologies to support E-mail, shared calendars, project management, instant messaging, and other applications. Subsequent phases will incorporate portal, search, document-sharing, E-learning, and records-management functions.

The multimillion-dollar deal represents the largest IT investment in the firm's history and marks a major shift from Unix to Windows. "We are a Unix shop with Unix skills," says George Tillmann, Booz Allen's CIO. "I think we're pretty good at what we do. The issue is, what do we do now to build a parallel organization that's based around Windows skills?"

To ease the transition, Booz Allen is setting up a second IT organization focused on the new platform. "Our Unix shop is going to be progressing on," he says. "Internosis is working on the Windows side, and we're setting up an organization there that's going to support up all of the Windows environments--and eventually we'll move over."

The change, Tillmann says, is about basic renewal. "We've been using Netscape for E-mail," he says. "We're not sure what its future is." He also cites the need to integrate applications to allow for better collaboration. "We felt we needed to change the overall platform," he explains. "This is, I would say, a routine thing you probably do every 10 years."

But the ultimate choice of platform and applications, he says, came from the bottom up, from Booz Allen's consultants themselves. "The point here for us is that we wanted to make sure our user base made the decisions about what it is they're going to use," he says. "We didn't want to dictate what consultants are going to be using for the next decade to do consulting."

With so many tech-savvy consultants on hand, it might seem odd to hire an outside integrator. But Tillmann notes that his firm doesn't do that much implementation and that it has worked successfully with Internosis before. Price comes into play, too. "Nobody is available internally," he says. "They're all billable."

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