Curtin University has agreed to replace more than 5,000 of its HP notebook and desktop PCs with devices from Dell.
Previously a minority supplier of the university's windows-based devices, Dell last month won a three-year tender for all 9,000 of Curtin's windows-based notebooks, netbooks and desktops.
The contract was signed on 29 March 2010, following a "competitive tender process" that began in mid-2009.
New Dell devices were to be deployed progressively for use by staff and students in libraries, general access areas and teaching spaces.
According to Curtin's CIO Peter Nikoletatos, the deal strengthened its move toward a centralised IT environment, which was initiated by the Curtin IT Services (CITS) department 18 months ago.
"We've almost [established] that all commodity-based services now come under the office of the CIO," he told iTnews. "We want to have one image for all windows-based PCs across the campus."
Nikoletatos said Curtin's purchasing decisions were made in consultation with a 16-person panel involving faculty members, researchers, library and IT staff.
Dell now joined Microsoft, VMWare, Cisco and EMC as "strategic vendor partners", with whom Nikoletatos communicated with weekly and met with as a group on a quarterly basis.
Although the university also used HP servers and around 2,000 Apple, Unix and Solaris systems, it did not consider those vendors strategic partners.
Besides hardware and software provision, strategic vendor partners offered perks like discounts for staff and students, and previews of upcoming technology.
Dell, for example, involved Curtin in some of its proof of concept trials. And Microsoft had supplied the university with five Surface units that students were designing applications for.
"I think it's remiss of any CIO not to have these future-focused discussions with vendors," Nikoletatos told iTnews.
Nikoletatos said the Dell contract would spawn few opportunities for new software deals as the computers would be shipped by Dell with Curtin's standard operating environment image.
Despite a growing interest in Apple devices from students, Nikoletatos said the university's mix of Windows, Mac OS and open source devices was unlikely to change.
"[Non-Windows operating systems] are not standard on corporate PCs and they are not likely to be," he said, "so our ratios will probably stay about the same."