New York City has selected IBM to complete the first phase of an extensive IT consolidation projected to save the city $100 million over the next five years.

When fully completed, the consolidation will bring more than 50 agency technology departments into the city’s new data center in downtown Brooklyn. The project is thought by the participants to be the largest deployment of cloud computing by a city to date.

The consolidation is part of the city’s CITIServ IT modernization program that officials say will enable New York City to run its IT operations in a more efficient, centralized and cost-effective fashion.

CITIServ, which stands for Citywide IT Infrastructure Services, will update outdated and unused technology resources while streamlining delivery of city services. The first services to be streamlined will be the help desk, hosting, storage, e-mail, virtualization and network of a number of city departments, including the departments of finance, sanitation and the city’s Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

In the consolidation’s first phase, which began in November and will take about a year to complete, IBM is acting as the system integrator for a dozen agencies moving to the new data center. After this $7.7 million phase is completed, the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) will search for a long-term system integrator, which doesn’t exclude IBM, to carry out the rest of the project, said Nicholas Sbordone, director of external affairs for the DoITT.

One of the consolidation’s goals is to relieve agencies from system maintenace. For years departments have developed and maintained their own IT systems independently.

“The back-end system and maintenance is what we are going to manage and enhance through better services, allowing agencies to do a better job doing what they do,” said Sbordone.

Last October, New York City signed a deal with Microsoft that consolidated the city’s licensing agreements into a single, unified system and moved 30,000 employees to Microsoft cloud services for e-mail, instant messaging and other communication services.

Although this deal was not officially part of the CITIServ project, it crosses paths with the larger agency consolidation effort.

“What we’re talking about here is the fundamental core operations of the city as an organization, how it does its job,” said David Cohn, director of business informatics at IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center and research scientist.

“Less overhead, fewer errors, better communication within the organization — it’s just an awful lot easier when all the IT is taking place in one location.”

After all the consolidation takes place, the DoITT will move to a cloud-based environment using Microsoft tools and possibly other vendors.

The DoITT launched the CitiServ initiative in March 2010 based on recommendations of a 30-day report that Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered from DoITT Commissioner Carole Post.

The top-to-bottom agency review was used to determine if the DoITT was structured to achieve the administration’s goals, and to make recommendations for how it can be adapted to achieve those goals. The report found that the city’s current IT infrastructure was “highly fragmented” and inefficient.

Lauren Katims Nadeau  |  Contributing Writer