Virginia DMV Picks Amdahl for System Overhaul


Virginia DMV Picks Amdahl for System Overhaul

By Dennis McCafferty

Staff Writer

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles officials say a recently awarded, $20 million contract to Amdahl Corp. will increase service efficiency by 25 percent for the customers who make 37,000 transactions at its statewide offices every day.

Before bids were accepted in June, the DMV was stuck with 15-year-old IBM equipment for which parts hadn't been manufactured in five years, said Bobby Watlington, data processing operations manager for the Virginia DMV.

It was down 3 percent of the time and slower than newer hardware and software. "It was dead-end technology, essentially,'' Watlington said.

The seven-year contract was signed in a ceremony April 1. Amdahl, based in Sunnyvale, Calif., will provide a total overhaul of the technology for more than 1,300 workers at 81 sites throughout the state. Amdahl was one of two bidders; officials involved in the process declined to identify the other competitor.

The integrator will provide computer services and support, systems and application management software, and client/server hardware and software. All of that will be provided by Amdahl and other companies teaming up on the contract: Sun Microsystems, Lexmark, Cisco and Cabletron. The system will be in place by fall 1998.

Sun 64-bit-capable computers will replace the existing IBM Series/1 computers at all state customer service centers. The availability of products from companies such as Sun reflect the "best of breed'' thinking on the part of Amdahl that helped the company land the contract, state officials said.

Amdahl officials, meanwhile, remained impressed with the Virginia DMV's advance planning for the system overhaul.

The state first started looking into the problems five years ago, and there was early concern about the old technology's likelihood of running into glitches based on the year 2000 compatibility problem. State and federal government leaders nationwide are confronting that issue, as data code lines that use only two digits to identify a year are expected to encounter system problems with the coming of the next century.

"[The old technology] served the commonwealth very well during its tenure,'' said Michael Morris, the Amdahl Corp. account executive who sold the technology plan to the Virginia DMV. "But it's outdated. It also isn't millennium capable. The commonwealth was ahead of the curve in seeing these requirements.''

This is the first large-scale overhaul of a state DMV system for Amdahl. The company has been involved with the Virginia DMV bid process for two years now.

With the new computer equipment and services, DMV officials say they are seeking a 1 percent downtime rate, which would be acceptable by industry standards. This means shorter lines and better service for those getting driver's licenses, vehicle registrations and titles processed. Amdahl officials think more governments will seek this kind of overhaul as taxpayers demand better service when conducting motor vehicle business.

"The citizenry is the DMV's customer base,'' Morris said. "The federal government is empowering down so much in recent years that states are starting to pick up more and more on providing quality service to their customers.''

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