Standard Bank on Wednesday announced that it has signed an enterprise licensing agreement with Microsoft SA for the upgrade of its 42 000 desktop PC platforms over the next three and a half years.

Dimension Data has been appointed as the large account reseller (LAR) to assist with the licensing and administration of Microsoft products at the bank.

The multi-million rand agreement allows for possible future conversion of the bank’s 16 000 branch platforms - which still utilise the legacy platform OS/2 - to Microsoft XP, should this be necessary, the bank says.

  As a result of the nature and scale of the agreement, valued at over R100m, Standard Bank has been given Strategic Account Status (the only one in SA) which allows Microsoft to appoint a dedicated account team to look after the bank. The signing of the agreement comes after a comprehensive internal 12-month investigation into an optimum technology platform.

  “We evaluated five different platforms, including Linux and various open source alternatives, for their compatibility with our strategic IT roadmap, functionality, security, staffing requirements, support implications, and ultimately their total cost of ownership,” says Dr Alewyn Burger, Director: IT and Business Operations at Standard Bank.

  In addition, Standard Bank has commissioned Gartner Group to provide a global benchmark for the total cost of ownership between Microsoft and Linux.

  “Our evaluations came at an opportune time, because 95% of our software licences and support contracts were up for renewal within an 18-month period and this step was part of our strategic roadmap. Hence our decision to investigate the various options and partners available to us,” he adds.

  “Our investigations found that our total cost of ownership would be optimised using the Microsoft environment,” Burger states.

  Microsoft products covered by the agreement include Microsoft Office 2003, Windows XP and well as its back-end products - SQL, Web servers, security applications... Future product releases within the three and a half year period are included in the agreement.