Controversy has soiled a massive Cisco networking win by integrator Memorex Telex at Sydney Airport, with the user's decision-making process being officially questioned by losing vendors.
The fiercely contested Airport deal, which is believed to be worth around $3 million, was short-listed to three solutions.
Memorex Telex and Cisco teamed up against Unisys and Fore Systems, while Anite bid Xylan.
Already, either one or both of the losing vendors have fired off official "please explain" letters to Sydney Airport. Sources suggest the bone of contention is whether Cisco and Memorex were given a chance to revise their pricing, when the other tenderers weren't.
Sources also suggest the vendors want to know why the Cisco solution was chosen when an independent technical report from Praxa is believed to have recommended the Fore solution, followed by the Xylan solution.
What's more, according to a report in ARN's sister publication ComputerWorld, the Cisco bid involved a router - the 8540 - which is not yet shipping.
Both Cisco and Memorex Telex were under strict instructions by the customer not to comment on the tender and an official announcement and explanation is expected this week from Sydney Airport.
While not willing to publicly suggest that there had been a deviation in the tender process, Fore Systems' general manager Grant Morrison did say: "We will certainly be asking questions in the debriefing.
"Whatever happened with this bid, it's got to the point where every single customer knows that they can get a best and final offer from Cisco and it's going to be much lower than anyone else's," he said.
Money and man-hours
Morrison estimated Fore Systems and Unisys had invested over $150,000 including countless man-hours into the tender.
Anite's Pacific CEO Laurie Stevens was taking the lost deal in his stride and was doubtful that there had been any wrong-doing.
"We've been advised that we were not successful, and yes, we have heard the industry rumours, but right now that's all they are - rumours."