Multi-million pound computer replacement project at county council

West Sussex County Council is planning a huge replacement programme for its computers
West Sussex County Council is planning a huge replacement programme for its computers

A whopping tech bill is heading towards West Sussex County Council as it prepares to replace 5,700 computers.

The cost of buying new laptop and desktop systems with extended five-year warranties and ‘special security features’ will run to millions of pounds.

The issue was raised during a discussion about cyber-security at a meeting of the regulation, audit and accounts committee on Monday.

Steve Waight (Con, Goring) pointed out that his ageing council computer, which was given to him in 2012, was still running on Windows 7, even though Microsoft had hailed Windows 10 as its ‘most secure software’.

The meeting was told that all of the council’s devices had to be using Windows 10 by early January 2020, after which Microsoft would no longer provide security updates for Windows 7.

Roland Mezulis, chief information officer, said the upgrade was being tested on a pilot group to ensure ‘that the things that need to work with it actually work’.

He added: “The main constraint on a rapid roll-out is that there are 400 plus different desktop applications that the organisation uses, each of which need to be tested on Windows 10.”

A spokesman said: “The council plans in the long term for equipping its workforce with appropriate digital technology.

“Where possible, equipment is acquired with a five-year warranty included in the price.

“This means that we expect to replace a user’s computer once every five years and we plan our funding to achieve that.

“To minimise cyber-security risk, we also ensure that equipment is operating with software that is actively supported by providers, including the Windows operating system used by laptop and desktop computers.

“The majority of the council’s laptop and desktop computers are currently operating using Windows 7. It is intended to migrate all devices to use the Windows 10 operating system before the end of the year.

“A significant proportion of the equipment currently in use has reached, or will shortly reach, the end of the warranty period.

“As part of the Windows 10 migration process, out of warranty equipment will be replaced.

“We anticipate that about 5,700 devices will be replaced.

“The council acquires laptop equipment built for business use that includes the extended warranty over five years, special security features and a more rugged and robust design.

“Typically, these devices and warranty cost about £950, that is a cost of under £200 per year per device.

“Desktop equipment costs about £500, that is a cost of £100 per year per device.”