Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Morning With State Government... Talking IT Transformation

Think your enterprise is challenged as it struggles to move toward IT-as-a-Service and a shared IT services model?   It seems that state and local governments are also trailblazing as well.

Earlier this week I had the honor of spending a morning in EMC's Executive Briefing Center with various members of a state legislature - and members of their IT staff - looking to learn more about their investment in a Vblock, and how it could enable a shared services infrastructure that could save them $ millions while upping services to citizenry.

This was not a technical crowd in the least. These were state representatives with constituencies who cared about things like better services and lower-cost government. But they wanted to know that they'd chosen the right horse, the right technology.

But what was fascinating was nobody wanted to drill into the technology... or even really get educated about it.  Rather, they were simply acutely aware of the opportunity to save money while upping service.  They knew that government agency data centers were siloed. They realized how long it took to deliver new IT services.  They acknowledged how un-integrated inter-departmental state data was. But they all wanted to be part of the solution, to get the rest of the legislature to a point of appreciating the opportunity before them.

The notes I took might sound familiar:
  • Where do we start?  VDI sounds like a shoe-in. But after that, which departments, offices and data centers should become part of the shared-services model? [What workload migration and ROI model should they adopt?]
  • If we do end up saving money, there's the risk that the savings will be taken away from us - how do we ensure it's plowed-back into innovating and creating higher-level services? [How to meter IT costs? What higher-level services could be proposed to the lines-of-business? How to facilitate IT educating departmental management in what new opportunities are available?]
  • Every office and department feels like they have a "special IT need" that only their own data center can provide. Is that really true? [How to illustrate the versatility of a cloud environment? How to guarantee differentiated SLA's?]
  • With a shared infrastructure, how do we ensure that sensitive information (e.g. the Highway Patrol department) is kept secure from prying eyes of other parts of IT... and indeed, other parts of the state government? [How to illustrate multi-tenancy? security? auditability?]
  • How can we ultimately simplify the government experience for citizens? e.g. Reduce paperwork for driver's licensing? Work permitting? Unemployment applications?  [How to go about merging and analyzing structured and semi-structured data from diverse sources?]
While this was not the forum to solve the problems, by the end of the morning we were all happy to have the issues laid-out on the table for discussion.  And to have educated the policy-makers and users that they can in fact operate their state government IT as a 21st century infrastructure.

The other good news is that this state is not the first to make this transition. A very good initial resource, for example, is from the Center for Digital Government - their paper on IT-as-a-Service for State and Local Government which gives a number of very good examples of state governments taking the right steps for the right rationales.   There is also an excellent paper published by the US Department of the Interior and their IT Transformation plan.

Stay tuned on more of what IT Transformation makes possible, and how to migrate to a service-based IT organization.... ITaaS.

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