How Cloud Computing Jump-Started A State Agency

A new CIO, a shrinking budget, and a commitment to serving mobile employees pointed to the solution: cloud apps and a cluster of virtualized x86 servers.
But Lawson went to extraordinary lengths to show appreciation. After two days of successful airing at the conference, she invited staff members to her house for a celebratory dinner she cooked herself. Fifteen showed up after the second exhausting show day.

So far, the PUC's IT staff has spent $150,000 on establishing its cloud applications, easing the way for more. "I'm looking forward to using the cloud for a lot of things," said Lawson. The public deserves access to public information, but it's difficult for an understaffed state agency to ensure that it gets it. Cloud services could change that, she said.

With budget cuts now expected, her staff members are rigorously culling the equipment it has, reducing costs through virtualization, but maintaining the highest performing servers. "We've been shopping in our own garage," she said.

IT in state government is going to be like that for a while. The state's CIO, Teri Takai, enforces an approved technologies list, trying to weed out the proliferation of technologies and focus skills and training on fewer choices.

For Open Campus, "Not everything we wanted was on the list," said Lawson. To add a nonconforming technology to a project, "you have to go through the exemption process." When asked how long that would take, Lawson indicates that she doesn't want to find out. But she's finding it all worth it. Open Campus and Momentum are just the start of a recovered effort by her IT department, not the end. She can see more initiatives following, and better service to the public without more staff through cloud computing.

If that happens, she'll be satisfied. "At the end of the day, I'd like to think that what we've done matters," she said.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on server virtualization. Download the report here (registration required).

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