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11/5/2010
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Minnesota To Consolidate Data Centers

The state's plan to reduce the number from 36 to between two and four follows deal that will shift 35,000 employees to Microsoft Business Productivity Online.

Minnesota has become the latest regional government to follow the lead of the federal government and mandate data-center consolidation.

The state's CIO, Gopal Khanna, and state Management and Budget Commissioner Tom Hanson unveiled a plan this week to reduce more than 36 state data centers to between two and four in the next five years, according to a press statement.

The move is the latest in the outgoing CIO's efforts to enact changes to IT operations before he leaves his post. Khanna has resigned, effective in December.

Minnesota recently signed a deal with Microsoft to move about 35,000 executive branch employees to the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) to provide Web-accessed e-mail, SharePoint collaboration, instant messaging and video conferencing capabilities.

Minnesota also joins several other state and local governments -- including Iowa and the City of New York -- in planning to use consolidation as a way to cut costs and streamline IT operations.

Gopal and Hanson issued the consolidation directive just before putting out a request for proposals (RFP) looking for a secure, industry-standard, third-party data-center service, according to a press statement.

Within two years, the state plans to house its most critical systems -- or about 40 percent of combined executive-branch business applications -- in the center. Officials said they plan to move the rest of the state's IT systems to several updated facilities within the next five years.

The decision to consolidate data centers came after a 2008 independent study of the state's data centers found that none met industry standards, according to the state. Moreover, the evaluation found that the risk of data failure and loss was high with many of the state's data centers.

In addition to cutting costs and streamlining IT operations, officials also hope its consolidation plan will reduce risks and improve the security of IT systems.

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