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IBM lands Aetna contract

Big Blue announces a five-year deal to provide consulting and IT services to insurance company Aetna.

IBM on Thursday announced a five-year contract with insurance company Aetna for consulting and information technology services, a deal that runs against the grain of many IT services arrangements. The contract was signed in December and is worth a little more than $200 million, according to an IBM spokeswoman. Its goal is to help Aetna bring new products to market more quickly, improve its offerings and raise its overall customer service level. IBM said about 300 of its professionals will work alongside Aetna technology staff to revamp older systems and integrate new technologies.

Large IT services deals often involve a company farming out control of its technology to IBM or such Big Blue rivals as Electronic Data Systems. In the Aetna arrangement, though, the insurance company eventually will maintain and manage the new capabilities. "We believe IT is a core competency for Aetna's continuing success," Wei-Tih Cheng, Aetna's chief information officer, said in a statement.