Revenue goes for NT

The Inland Revenue and its IT outsourcing partner EDS have enlistedws NT. Microsoft’s help to ready over 50,000 PCs for the year 2000.

Codenamed Infrastructure 2000, the project is one of the Revenue’s top 12 IT priorities, John Yard, head of the Revenue’s business systems management division, told Accountancy Age.

The rollout of new Windows NT 4.0 workstations and 700 NT-driven local area network servers would not cure the mainframe capacity problems the Revenue experienced during the last week in January, Yard explained. ‘The fundamental driver is to recognise that we need to upgrade the desktop infrastructure. Windows 3 is out of date and not being maintained.’

On top of the continuing IT development workload associated with personal self-assessment, the Revenue and EDS were preparing for the merger with the Contributions Agency on 1 April and readying corporation tax self-assessment systems to go live in November – not to mention the year 2000 and euro-feasibility work.

‘We live in a complex world with a large volume of change to contend with,’ said Yard. ‘We have worked hard to develop management processes so we have a proper mechanism to control the risks.’

He added that, although ministers were keen to push for change, ‘they do listen to what we say about the complexity and amount of change we are actually handling. That is a key factor in deciding what our priorities should be’.

Linked to the Revenue’s massive development workload, Infrastructure 2000 represents one of the most complex Windows NT implementations yet undertaken. The mainframe processors are not included in the overhaul, but IT experts have questioned the ability of Microsoft’s operating system to cope with huge corporate networks.

Kreymer said that EDS was working with Microsoft as well as the suppliers of the Revenue’s existing servers and workstations – ICL and Bull – to make the project work. Although the Revenue was ‘up there’, EDS had handled bigger NT implementations, including some 80,000 workstations that went in to General Motors. ‘One of the things about EDS – and why the Revenue chose to outsource – is that it is known for its ability to cope with complexity,’ he added.

‘We recognise that any developments we undertake have an element of risk,’ said Yard. ‘On this project in particular, we have been rigourous about lab testing its scalability. We looked at the technical issues involved in the IT approach EDS recommended and talked to suppliers and other customers.’

The Revenue has already started a controlled rollout of 4,000 systems in 33 different offices, he said, ‘And they work.’

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