For years now states have been working toward consolidation of their information technology services. States find it more efficient, affordable, cleaner, more user friendly and easier to manage. Along with this often goes the consolidation of the state data centers.
Traditionally, each agency had a data center and was responsible for the maintenance, security and staffing required to manage it. Once consolidated, many states have been able to move as many as 35 or more data centers into just one or two. The benefits are considerable.
First and foremost, data center consolidation can save a state hundreds of millions of dollars over just several years. While there are always upfront costs to build a more modern, larger and efficient data center, states see savings in energy use (more efficient heating and cooling, and smaller square footage overall), and smaller workforce needs (mostly achievable via attrition). This usually results in direct savings to the agencies, so that they can spend their money directly on citizen services instead of IT.
Just as important, are the increased security benefits. One State CIO I recently talked to said that while he knew consolidating would result in better security, he had no idea just how much. Having communications coming through one network allows the Department of Information Technology to have a clear view of threats, as well as the ability to analyze them, rank them and deal with them before they spread or before any information leaves the system. It also reduces the attack surface for the state.
Of course, these benefits don't usually come without some challenges. There are always agencies that are hesitant to give up control of their data centers. That's why it's critical for the CIO's office to work with agency CIOs as partners from the beginning. Everyone needs a voice to move toward a beneficial outcome for all affected.
Another state shared that in their experience, while there was some pushback, knowing that $4 million in savings would go directly back to agencies as reduced rates made it an easy sell.
NASCIO will be releasing a new publication on data center consolidation in the coming weeks with more information from and for states.