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IBM lands Canadian bank deal

Big Blue continues its surge into the rising trend of service outsourcing by inking yet another megadeal with Canadian banking firm TD Bank Financial Group.

IBM's services division on Thursday announced a deal to manage the desktops and networks of Canadian banker TD Bank Financial Group.

The seven-year agreement, valued at $548 million, will see IBM managing more than 40,000 PCs for that group and its 1,200 TD Canada Trust associate branches. IBM will also set up a new data network to help the banker implement new services.

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More and more, businesses are choosing to outsource information technology services, in part to stem the high costs of desktop maintenance, which IT research company Meta Group said ranges from $2,000 to $5,000 a year per PC, when done in-house.

IBM said almost half of all its services deals include managing PCs. In the third quarter alone, it has netted $15 billion worth of such contracts from clients like Qwest Communications International, Equifax, Procter & Gamble, Ericsson, Nordea and ABB Group. Earlier this month, it signed up with Electrolux to manage the appliance maker's 15,000 PCs.

Separately, IBM released details of a Ross Research study that rates it as the best outsourcing vendor in terms of reputation, innovation and quality of personnel--ahead of companies such as Electronic Data Systems and Hewlett-Packard. The study is based on opinions of "sourcing advisory firms" that help customers select service companies.

"We are utilizing all parts of IBM--such as our Business Consulting Services unit--to ensure (that) we have the most innovative vision of business transformation that enables customers to tackle the challenges of the future," said Rick Horton, general manager of IBM's Strategic Outsourcing Services.