The MTA will outsource its IT operations to an IBM data center on Staten Island. IBM will also host a disaster recovery site designed to ensure that the computer processing operations for North America's largest transportation network never go down.
The disaster recovery site will be established at an IBM facility whose location MTA is not at liberty to disclose for security reasons. Big Blue will be able to recover important MTA systems in the event of a failure thanks to the site, which will feature its own electrical generators, a vast array of redundant computing systems and beds, showers and food stores in case an extended stay is required.
"[A recovery site is] absolutely critical. Our IT systems are vital for keeping our trains and buses moving … they demand that our systems be on 24/7. That's why we've made that decision," said Jim Fowler, MTA vice president of technical and information services.
The MTA had previously outsourced its IT systems to Affiliated Computer Services Inc., which managed them from a mid-town Manhattan data center. Once that contract expired, the MTA put itself up for a public bid. According to Fowler, IBM got the contract because it offered the agency the best deal from both a fiscal and technical standpoint.
Big Blue bid low, but Fowler said it was IBM's track record for working with government and financial institutions that swung the deal.
"We were confident that they knew how to do it, and that they could do it," Fowler said.
IBM systems will manage the data center that handles the MTA's fare collection system, which took in $4.3 billion in subway, bus and train fares in 2004. Big Blue will also manage the powering of back-end applications, such as the database that keeps track of the parts for subways, buses and other equipment; and the applications that oversee crew schedules, procurement and contracts. IBM is planning on running those applications using the on-demand model.
The transition began on February 1 and is expected to be completed by mid-June 2005.
The MTA serves a population of 14.6 million people in the metropolitan area and includes the New York City Transit Authority, MTA's bridges and tunnels, the Long Island Rail Road, the Metro-North Railroad and the Long Island Bus.
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