In the rough-and-tumble energy biz, IT departments are paddling hard to stay afloat.
The storm that Enron ignited last fall shows little sign of abating. Information technology (IT) departments at every energy company have had to react to rapidly changing conditions, whether it be shrinking budgets or nervous workforces. Fortnightly interviewed the chief information officers (CIOs) at five very different companies-Williams, Duke, PJM, Pacific Gas and Electric, and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District-to find out how they're coping, and how they plan to chart a course through such turbulent waters.
At Williams, change threatens to capsize the ship. The waves rocking the company are reflected in the IT department, which is slashing its staff from 1,400 to 700. The company says the cuts will be completed by early next year-but there are no assurances that there won't be more. Yet Ron Mucci is navigating with a plan. He is determined to provide Williams with the IT services it needs to survive, even though it means shifting internal expectations from a "champagne … to a beer budget," he says.
In contrast to Williams, the waters that Duke is sailing in seem positively calm. But Cecil Smith faces his own set of challenges. He has to steer a course with a flat budget-at an organization that isn't used to one-and still find his way amongst the shoals of employee unrest, to keep one of the industry's leaders out in front.
For all the choppiness of the industry waters, some like PJM are riding the wave. Rather than face shrinking budgets, Nora Swimm is setting an IT course to support PJM's non-stop expansion.
On the West Coast, the U.S.S. Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is sailing into the uncharted waters of a contentious bankruptcy. Roger Gray's task is to keep a steady IT course and bring into dock a multi-year customer information system (CIS) project, while preparing to split his department if PG&E's bankruptcy plan is approved.
And in the quieter waters of public power, Linda Hensley is preparing to run a tighter ship at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. Faced with a wave of retirements over the next five years, Hensley plans to implement technologies that will increase efficiencies with fewer employees-the quintessential function of IT.
Batten Down the Hatches: Williams Deals With 'Draconian' Cuts
An interview with Ron Mucci, vice president and chief information officer, Williams Co.
What were your biggest accomplishments and struggles in the last year?
We've gone through incredible change [in] less than 12 months. Last year, there were four separate IT shops in Williams. There was a CIO for the pipeline, for the energy company, for the corporate group, and one for energy marketing and trading. So, basically you had four autonomous IT shops, and the only common thread was that the corporate IT shop managed the majority of the infrastructure, but they were kind of light in the sense that there weren't very many enterprise applications. So, they had a council that tried to find common ground, talk about events and best practices, and look for opportunities. At the very end of last year, they made a decision to put all of the IT group in corporate and move it to an enterprise function. . . . Well, the [shared services concept in the pipeline group] worked so well at the pipeline level that they took the shared services concept to the corporate level. In January, I was responsible for leading the transformation to enterprise of both finance and IT.
We have re-organized ourselves twice since then … [We] literally created an organization that didn't exist, from scratch. In six weeks' time we went from concept to literally naming it down to the employee level…
We roared through it. I remember the day we finished it, because it coincided with the day employees had to make a decision under our early retirement program. And that was our driver, quite frankly. We didn't think it was fair for employees to make decisions on taking early retirement when they didn't even know if they had a job.
How has the IT department been impacted by the downturn in the merchant sector?
[B]y late May, we were in a total stock price meltdown, and the world changed on us again. We were faced with the need for draconian cost reductions… Overnight, the projects were just getting whacked left and right. We started a process of calibrating the demand for our services.
We looked at 2002 as a baseline, looked at O&M, G&A, mandatory capital, expansion capital, efficiency capital. How much do you spend, whether it's expensed or capitalized? Whether it's mandatory or efficiency? We did that for 2002, and took a forecast for 2003. We were grinding these numbers into their capital budgets, so they could go back to our outside board of directors, and show them, here's what our businesses look like. We were a major part of their expenses.
Once we calibrated demand, we started looking at the supply side of the equation. Then what we did, we started down a process of what I call high-grading our organization. We created an 11-page template of talent assessment… We evaluated people with what I call a consistent Right Way, Right Results performance measure. What was kind of neat about that was, we had every manager rank every employee. Then we got all the managers in a room together, and they had to explain how they ranked every employee. It was real interesting. I remember one manager gave everyone in his group an exceptional rating. I didn't have to say one word before managers jumped up and said, get out of here, what makes you think your people walk on water? It opened up a really fantastic dynamic, and we got into a debate about what does exceptional performance look like. So it really level-set the playing field.
[T]hen we had to balance supply and demand. It's a nice way of saying we needed to reduce [the workforce]… Including contractors and employees, we're down 50 percent. So now, where are we?
After having gone through that, we're restructuring again, in recognition of the workload we have. We've got our demand and supply equation back in balance, we believe.
What are the challenges that lie ahead? Clearly, from just a people standpoint, we're in a break-fix mode, which is down to what you'd think of as mandatory kind of work. The challenge is, how do you keep people engaged? How do you keep them challenged, and make it a place to continue and thrive in their career? That's one big challenge. Our business is fluid. We may sell more assets-I don't know.
What are your goals for IT in the next year at Williams?
What we really want to do, as an IT shop-it's important to us that we provide the value-added services that our customers need to meet their business. So, the kind of activities I see us delving into-because we really haven't, other than organizationally putting us together, we really haven't had an opportunity to work together as one, because of the turmoil. What I would like to have is the opportunity to turn our attention to performance management, best practices, and benchmarking…
Our business isn't making widgets. So I think the challenge we've got is that our businesses are going to be under immense pressure to control costs-an understatement. They view us in effect like a third-party provider. What are our core competencies-that's a key question. And how do we know we're delivering those services in the most efficient way possible. I think we're going to see in the not-too-distant future, they're going to say, why don't you just outsource it?
Outsourcing isn't much of a trend right now. Do you see that picking up?
For us, we haven't historically outsourced a lot of application development work. I think that we'll move in the direction… I do think what's important is, whether I provide it or an outsourcer provides it, you've got to have a clear articulation of all the deliverables, and you have to have a clear articulation of the performance measures.
What are the consequences of staff reductions and budget cuts?
I'd like to see us put together a fairly high-level service level agreement. [But] as we dramatically change our services and reduce our size, I think there's going to be a huge disconnect with our internal customers at the staff level, who basically are used to champagne, and we're about to shift them to a beer budget. So the question is, how do you manage those expectations? We're radically changing the character and nature of the service we're providing. The people who are the officers and head of these companies are going, "Oh yeah, we've got to cut our costs, and I don't want to pay." And yet, the rank-and-file are the ones who consume our service. I don't know if they're getting the message or not… And, we need to have measures in place … If it's totally subjective, then we're setting ourselves up for just continuously getting beat over the head… Candidly, I think our core competencies are around those unique applications that are very customized [and] require a high degree of business knowledge. The more generic the application, the less customized it is. I don't know, to be honest with you, whether we are ultimately going to be the low-cost provider.
Steady as She Goes: Duke Aims to Keep Up Morale
An interview with Cecil Smith, senior vice president, information management, Duke Energy
In the last year, what were your big accomplishments and what were your disappointments?
We did spend a lot of effort, and therefore dollars, on security last year, with a series of projects. We continued to put "add-ons" to our financial ERP [enterprise resource planning], which was certainly helpful. We have continued to really highly utilize our information portal, which has information-not only news release-type information, but also benefit information, HR self-service information, all those kinds of things. . .
Additionally, we spent an awful lot-this is sort of the good side and the bad side-we spent an awful lot of money and effort around trading systems and risk management systems. Then that market for us has gone to a shambles, starting with Enron, and everything else that has taken place. We are still finishing up those investments, because still we fundamentally believe that the merchant energy market will come back. The real question for us is a matter of timing. We're not investing at quite the same clip rate as we were doing in the earlier part of the year, in that arena, but we are still investing, because we've got to finish those pieces of work.
How long were you working on some of these projects?
The risk management and trading systems have probably been as long as investments as we have probably had. [I]n our electric business line, we have completed a customer billing and information system. That was a six-phased re-engineering of a system that we have turned in the last few years back to Duke Power Co. It's been highly successful, and certainly needed, but what was key on that was really to turn out a phased deliverable that was important to that customer every six to nine months. We do not like big-bang conversions, because just too many times, your risk factor goes up. We always prefer the phased implementation, where you can start getting value as quickly as possible, and then like with anything, you continue to enhance it in subsequent and additional phases. That's part of the reason that we, like others, were named to the CIO 100. It was based upon our integration activity, things like our customer billing and information system, things like we were doing with integrating our acquisition of West Coast Energy in Canada, those kind of things. Another aspect of that is that we've changed-starting at the beginning of 2001-we've changed our total IT governance model, and that has worked well for us.
[T]he big change [has been] that we really are operating something called an information technology management team-ITMT. That has either the IT director or IT officer from each major business subsidiary, and we meet monthly, not only to agree upon standards and architecture delivery, but then to review major projects, to review major impacts, to make decisions, that sort of thing. It functions-to put it in the vernacular, it has really gelled in the last 18 months. I would say it is working the best I've seen it in the years I've been with our company [since 1995].
Why did you change your IT governance model 18 months ago?
As we matured as a new company [after the merger of Duke Power Co. with Pan Energy], what we realized is that there were many things we could do more from a common synergy standpoint, particularly in the IT operations arena-in IT security, in IT disaster recovery, IT telecommunications-all of those kinds of things. So really we looked at that and said, "OK, how can we operate going forward to accommodate the greatest types of synergies, come up with centers of excellence?"
Do your business goals drive IT?
Certainly. The reason-two comments on that. One, when we formed Duke Energy, we moved the business applications into the business units. Those applications have a dotted-line link, through the governance model, back to my office, as the corporate CIO. I do the enterprise applications, so whether that's financials, payrolls, HR, e-mail, or security, those kind of [things]. What is important to glean from that organizational alignment is it says that we are in step with the business units, in terms of what their actual business IT needs are. Therefore, we can deliver them. Operationally, we look at it and say, OK do we have the right infrastructure in place, the right networking connectivity, the right security certification guidelines, and all of those things. And in some cases, yes you do for some of those things like infrastructure, security, and firewalls. You've got to be continually reading not only your business units and where they are directionally going, [but also] where is the industry going, what new capabilities are there, and you're making investments in the operating infrastructure. At the end of the day, if you were to ask me what drives IT in this company, it is the business.
What are your goals for the coming year? Where do you see your spending, and what are your big projects?
At this moment in time one of the biggest goals I've got is keeping the staff motivated in a down economy, in a down industry segment. I don't think that's atypical, even in companies in different industry segments these days. But this industry segment has been through a lot. Every day you pick up the newspaper or you look on CNN, and you're not seeing rosy pictures, all you're seeing is bad news. Your staff-it isn't that they're running off, but they want reassurances that your [company is] going to be OK, that the industry and the economy is going to come back, etc. I expect that same thing to be felt in the telecommunications industry, look what they've been through, let alone our industry brethren, whether it's Dynegy, Williams, or others like that. It's the toughest of times for both managers and staff. Many of your staff who are in their 20s and 30s have never been through times like this.
What are you planning to do to keep up the motivation?
Well basically, it's management 101-manage by walking around, manage by being present, it's like where we are right now-from a budgetary standpoint we'll be flat on a year-by-year basis. But, what is important in that is that we are still supporting a good number of critical applications, most of which, or many of which, were already underway, as the economy has gotten worse and worse. The large message is to say to your staff, "We're still investing in those projects that are important to us on a going-forward basis, that are important to our baseload infrastructure," and those kinds of things. Call it re-emphasizing the basics, call it just being there. Sounds pretty elementary and pretty trite, but I would tell you it's probably as strong a tool as we can do at the moment.
Setting Sail: PJM Has Eye on Growth
An interview with Nora Swimm, executive director of information services, PJM
How long have you been with PJM?
About one and a half years. . . I'm still learning a lot about the [energy] industry itself. The technology challenges and issues seem to be consistent from organization to organization, though.
What are some of those consistent challenges?
I would say a lot of times, it's people. It starts with making sure you have the right staff, in the right positions. . . Also, making sure as an organization, that you are tightly aligned with the business areas you are supporting. Again, that's been a consistent challenge that I've seen in all the organizations where I've worked, that really I think IS [information services] organizations provide the most value when they understand the business, and then can bring the technology solutions to bear. . . One of the things, when I first came to PJM, I looked at how we were organized in our IS department. Our departments were more aligned around technical/functional organization. I had the developers in one department, the database administrators in another, the network folks in another-I took a look at that, and working with the management team, talked about where we were, and where we wanted to get to, and business alignment was clearly one of those areas that we thought there was an opportunity to get better aligned with the business clients, the markets, and the operations. We reorganized ourselves, so that instead of having those technical departments, we now have departments aligned with the business areas that we supported. So we then became a single point of contact for those business areas, and the staff is now focused on understanding both functionally, the business areas they support, as well as the technology to support that business.
Would you say that realignment was the biggest accomplishment of your last year?
From a personal perspective, yes. As an organization, we have supported business initiatives, which included our PJM West initiative, as our market grows out to Allegheny. The IS group played a key role in managing the infrastructure and the application development that needed to occur to make that successful. We are also in the process of planning for the next wave of market growth. The PJM West experience was sort of our test case to understand what the impact would be, and from an IS perspective it touched really all aspects of innovation. Infrastructure, planning, application development, security-it touched every area. So we're using that experience as the basis for the larger market growth that's ahead of us.
If you could look back on the PJM West outgrowth, what was the biggest lesson you learned from that experience?
One of the things, when I came on board, was that we had had a team in the IS group that had been identified as the "PJM West team." While it involved a lot of the staff, one of the things that I was concerned with was that I had three or four senior staff members who were on this team, and they were [all] functioning as the point of contact and liaison back to the business area, and doing the planning, etc. ...
I wanted one person who was accountable. So I looked at the team and made a decision that I would pick one of the senior project managers to take on that role. . . [T]hat turned out to be a critical decision, getting a single person designated. That person did extremely well. [That person] became the focal point and the coordination and that bridge between the business area and the IS group. . .
[I]n the middle of that, we were faced with the September 11 tragedy. That indirectly affected us, in that we had hardware on order. What ended up happening was that vendors were looking to respond to the urgent requests coming out of New York. They wanted to reprioritize requests to the New York companies that were trying to get back on their feet after September 11. So we worked with those vendors to look at our schedule. We ended up making some changes and modifications . . . It did cause a couple late nights, and people coming in on weekends, but I think it was worthwhile in supporting that objective.
How are you handling the PJM market growth, and how are relationships with SPP and MISO impacting your IT group?
With respect to the Midwest ISO (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP), we established that letter of intent in January, establishing the joint common market. Since that time, we've had regular meetings with the larger group, to talk about what is a joint common market, what is the business benefit, [and] when we talk about the infrastructure, what would be the decisions. A major component of this initiative is the one-stop shopping for the members who would be using this environment. So we identified the enhanced market portal, which would be that singular entrée into the market, whether they were going to the Midwest or PJM. We have started talking about, from a technology standpoint, what would we need to do. A lot of it comes back to making sure we get standardization around data and nomenclature-that's really going to provide a lot of value to the market participant. Today, if they want to transact business in the Midwest or PJM or whatever region, it's different nomenclature, different rules. . .
[W]e need to get a larger, scalable solution to meet the needs going forward. Billing and settlement is an example of one of those applications areas. For example, one of the things that we've been doing in working with MISO and SPP is understanding what decisions have they made recently around those applications and those functionalities. We're looking to see if there are opportunities for synergy around vendors and licensing, so that we could leverage that as we go and move toward the joint common market, which is on that two- to three-year horizon. . . If we have those discussions and make some of those decisions today, it will simplify what we have to do going forward.
For an enhanced market portal, will all the grid operators need to use the same type of software?
What we've discussed to date around the enhanced market portal is that, working with MISO, SPP, and PJM, we've been talking back and forth, trying to define first what it is we want, and then evaluating what technology is out there to meet the needs. We all agree that it's critical to agree first on what it is we need, and then to meet the need. With respect to the technology, we're looking at a joint technology solution around that portal. What we haven't decided yet is whether that solution will run centrally as one version, or if [it will be] the same solution running decentralized.
Going forward, what are your top two or three goals for the coming year?
Over the next 12 to 18 months, our focus is on the market growth that's ahead for PJM, which speaks to integrating the former Alliance members into PJM, and supporting the joint common market for the MISO/SPP and PJM. . . [W]e need to lay a lot of the groundwork, the planning, and start some of that work, in order to be successful in the 2004-05 timeframe, where we do have specific deliverables.
Steering toward Shoals: PG&E Readies for a Breakup
An interview with Roger Gray, vice president and chief information officer, Information Services and Technical Services, Pacific Gas and Electric Co.
What's been happening with IT at one of the nation's largest utilities in the last year? How has the bankruptcy affected your department's work?
Our day-to-day work to support the utilities is largely unchanged. We had major projects kept on track and [we] intend to complete [them]. It didn't have any significant budget impact or project impact, because we're so driven by maintaining a large infrastructure-we continue to have to support that-and we had, for example, projects like a new customer information system that we are continuing to build and are launching in December. The day-to-day support almost feels like status quo, in terms of plans and effort. But, because our plan of bankruptcy reorganization splits the company, we are also having to figure out how we would go about splitting the IT systems, or a reverse merger, if you will.
Without a firm decision from the court, are you able to do a lot of planning for that?
Yes, we are actually doing planning, and we're actually doing work. In fact, we're required-before we spend dollars on those kinds of things-we have to file motions with the court. Those have been done over the last several months, and I can't remember the numbers of motions, but several have been approved that allow us to do that kind of work, that is outside the normal course of business.
What were your biggest accomplishments in the last year?
That question would be much more relevant in December. We have several new, major systems that are coming together toward the latter half of the year. The fact that these projects are going to land is a major accomplishment. Even under normal circumstances, they would have been challenges. The fact that we've been in bankruptcy, kept people focused, not worried about where the bankruptcy may take us, eventually, keeping our eye on the ball-that applies to the networks we operate, the 700-plus applications that we have to support the various businesses processes within PG&E. Fundamentally, keeping our eye on the ball for that stuff we operate, as well as keeping our projects on track.
What are the biggest projects you are working on?
The big one is our CIS system. That is a gigantic system, it's our core billing and customer relationship system. That's scheduled to go live December 6. We also at the same time are launching several new call center applications, and we're updating many of the call center applications we have. We also have field dispatch systems that we're going to be upgrading, and launching new ones. Related to all this, we also have enterprise application integration (EAI) project. We've actually gone live with that, but it really gets tested when all this new stuff comes online. It's the confluence of several major initiatives and projects that are coming in. Once we do this, the only remaining legacy system that we will have is our HR/payroll system, which we eventually hope to tackle, maybe as an 2003 or 2004 initiative.
What motivated these projects and when did planning begin?
They had been planned for many years. EAI has been planned for about a year now, that was relatively late in the mix. CIS has been a project for several years. There were a variety of drivers. EAI, the driver is the ability to integrate the applications in a smarter way. Historically, we tied everything together on a point-to-point basis, which is the cheapest thing to do short-term, but becomes very cumbersome long-term. Basically, we had to start over with how we approach that. That was a strategic IT initiative. The CIS was driven by the traditional things that drive you to replace legacy systems-obsolescence, and lack of functionality.
When you work with other managers at PG&E, how do IT priorities get set?
We have a variety of things that we use to drive IT spending, initiatives, and priorities. It ranges from very tactical, where people focus on specific technologies and their appropriate selection, to strategic, which is the management committee of the company and officer IT council that basically sets the high-level policies. That's where, for example, the IT council would say, do we have a strategic goal to get ourselves off legacy systems or not? The details of specific projects would be handled at information technology committees that are much more tactically focused. It's really the relationship of all the things working together that's the important part, I think.
Do you use the council to align IT goals with the company's overall business goals?
Yes. This is a very strong philosophy that I have, that you start first with the business goals and business strategy, then you develop an information technology strategy to support it, and finally you look at the information technology choices, products, and services to support that. What was oftentimes happening was that a vendor would come in and show some technology, and people would get wowed by it-the wow factor-and we would then work from the technology toward the business process strategy. So [now] it's the business strategy, the business process, then the information strategy, then the technical tactics that we follow with. That's the order we try and stay with.
If the bankruptcy reorganization plan is successful, how are you going to divide your IT department?
The plan of reorganization only applies to Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and that is to take what is a highly integrated, coupled IT function, which would be required to be split to support what will become two corporations, and within one corporation will be three or four different companies. We will have to split the IT function, which means the resources and infrastructure, and the people as well. Both companies will need IT personnel. I have not figured out yet if breaking IT up is harder than merging IT, but it's not easy.
All Hands on Deck: SMUD Doing More With Less
An interview with Linda Hensley, director of business technology and change management, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)
What have your challenges and goals been the past year, and what are you planning for the future?
I'm not actually from the technology area. I manage technology projects in the customer area. . . So the first year we focused on getting the bigger re-engineering initiatives done. We're still doing more of them this year. This year we've been working on implementing more of those. As part of that we had been working with the district at the corporate and executive level on alignment between business and technology, and generally between the business units themselves. We put into place-this was both technology change management and executive alignment-executive dashboard, and a pay-for-performance program link to the dashboard and the metrics. All of that was technology-enabled, and also part of our business process re-engineering.
What is your dashboard concept?
If you look on the GE Six Sigma Web site [www.ge.com/sixsigma], you see their dashboard. I didn't know this at the time we designed ours, but ours is kind of similar to that. I think most companies now are headed in that direction, where you have a Web-based dashboard that has the company metrics posted at least monthly, if not more often, depending on what they are. Every employee in the district has visibility to that, and can know that their pay-for-performance programs are linked to the success of the company, and what the priorities are. It basically aligns the whole company around common objectives. . .
Our big focus is around efficiency and productivity improvements. A lot of that is technology-enabled, and so most of my focus and my goals over the next three or four years are to digitize all of our processes, and do a lot of efficiency improvement. Partly because the average age of our workforce is 49, so we're expecting a lot of retirements-I don't know what the average length of time is, but our employees have been here really long periods of time, so most of them can retire by the time they're 55. So we're expecting a big wave of retirements, which gives us the opportunity to go behind those people and automate the processes that they're in. So that's what I'm headed towards, automating as many of our processes as we can. To do that, we have to re-engineer all the processes. I have a lot of people who are business analyst types, for the technology side, but are also process re-engineering people.
What has your strategy been to get your workforce to be more accepting of change and new technological approaches and strategies?
We have integrated change management with technology rollout. . . We have a lot of hard lessons that we've learned. We've gotten pretty good at it. We just work really, really hard at making sure people are comfortable with why we're doing the technology, how to use it, how it's going to affect them, and giving them lots and lots of support as they adapt to it.
Can you give an example of a project that went wrong, and the lessons you've learned from the experience?
When we rolled out SAP, it was probably the biggest technology project we've ever done. We had a project team under contract to deliver the project on time and on budget. We tended to focus on that instead of the impacts on the organization. . . [But] we didn't really look at the processes in the call center to examine how they may have needed to change to the new technology. We had taken the supervisors off the phones, so they could do more coaching of the customer service reps, but [the supervisors] didn't know how to use the new technology. So since they weren't ever using it, they couldn't help coach their employees on how to use it, plus they ended up being negative about it, because they saw the falloff in productivity because of the new technology, and they weren't really expected to use it themselves. So not only did we lose 10 people that should have been on the phones, we lost their support. Now, looking back on it, it just seems so-I mean, how could you not know? . . . The summary of that really is to look at how, even if you've just re-engineered, look at how your processes may need to change to facilitate the rollout of a technology project. Like putting everybody on the phones.
What sorts of projects are you working on now to improve efficiency?
One of the big, simple, quick success stories we had this year was automated time entry. . . So that was just an easy one, but we're also doing a lot of employee self-service. . . We're going 100 percent online recruitment by early next year.
What are your specific goals going forward?
What I did, I just adopted what-when Jeff Immelt first took over for GE, he said in an interview that he planned to digitize his back office and reduce it by some amount-I think it might have been 75 percent. And so I kind of adopted that, and said we could reduce our back office process support by 50 percent. I'm not really translating that into employee reductions, as much as I am in just a combination of not having to replace retiring employees, and improved productivity in other employees.
What other things are going to get a big part of your budget?
Next year the biggest project for us is two-way radio, the GIS outage management storage is sucking up everything, we have a big upgrade project for SAP that starts next year and we're buying a lot of the infrastructure for that next year, and we just on an ongoing basis have a lot of customer Internet and employee Web applications that we're supporting.
Experts say that outsourcing is making more sense for companies like SMUD than for the Dukes of the world. Is that true?
Yes, we're going out for an RFP to look at options around outsourcing our SAP solution, for all the hardware and the maintenance. Part of my driver there is business continuity, so if I can get a big data center, I think it could be cost effective for them to provide us not only the hardware support for our SAP application, but they would also have better backup than we have right now. I'm hoping to see if I can get that for less than having to set up my own hot site somewhere.
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