When Is A Data Center Success Story Not A Success Story? - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy
Commentary
8/4/2008
01:53 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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When Is A Data Center Success Story Not A Success Story?

When a state auditor's report blasts the project, and politicians start playing football. Oregon's data center consolidation project is a cautionary tale about either a lack of careful project management or carefully managing expectations -- probably both.

When a state auditor's report blasts the project, and politicians start playing football. Oregon's data center consolidation project is a cautionary tale about either a lack of careful project management or carefully managing expectations -- probably both.As part of its ongoing "CIOs Uncensored" feature series, InformationWeek published an article on July 21 about the state of Oregon's data center consolidation project, written by the director of the data center, Mark Reyer. While the article mentioned problems with the project, in particular related to the cultural issues of working with 11 state agencies and their formerly independent IT organizations, it was generally a positive review of what had been accomplished.

Several days before publication, the Office of the Secretary of State issued an auditor's report critical of the data center consolidation project. When InformationWeek started to receive letters and online comments about the article, the project, and the auditor's report, we wrote our own story about the controversy.

So what's going on in Oregon?

The auditor's report says several "significant objectives" of the project have not been met, including sufficient progress in consolidation, functioning service level agreements, and an overall project management framework. Because resources will have to be added to the project, the hoped-for cost-savings probably won't materialize. And promised improvements in disaster recovery and security haven't been accomplished.

Reyer's response to the auditor's report is that it was written before significant progress had been made. Because a decision was made to move processing chores into the data center before the consolidation work had been completed, data center management essentially has been doing two things at once. Many of the objections in the report have been -- and continue to be -- addressed.

State legislators have become involved, as might be expected in a multimillion-dollar government project. Oregon's House Republican leader defends the project, but the head of the Information Technology Committee, a Democrat, has called a meeting to discuss it.

Systems integration projects almost always are costlier, more complicated, and take longer than anticipated. Is Oregon's a case of gross incompetence, or simply the vicissitudes typical of big IT projects?

If you know anything about the Oregon data center project, e-mail me at [email protected], or offer your comments below. If you have experience with -- opinions about -- the complications inherent in big systems integration projects, share them with us.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
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