California Works to Grow Private Cloud Customer Base

With rates tied to customer volume, adding users is key to success for the state’s CalCloud service.

by / February 20, 2015
Davood Ghods, chief of California’s Office of Technology Services, says OTS is working with at least three large agencies on major CalCloud deployments. e.Republic/Jessica Mulholland

California’s Department of Technology will step up efforts this year to attract state and local government customers to its CalCloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform.

Davood Ghods, chief of the state’s Office of Technology Services, says growing the customer base is crucial to the success of the private cloud service, launched last year by the state and IBM.

“To be honest, we need to build volume,” he said. “One of the unique features of CalCloud is that it’s volume-based. The more volume we bring in, the lower the rates.”

The Office of Technology Services, which runs the state data centers that house CalCloud, intends to streamline the shopping experience for cloud buyers and improve customer service this year. For instance, Ghods wants to let customers order services directly from an interactive online catalog instead of filling out a separate service request form.

“It would work more like Amazon — you select the services you want, see the price and add it to a shopping cart,” he said.

Ghods also is working to establish a customer-centric culture among the office’s 600 staff members, and he’s increasing outreach to potential CalCloud customers.

California partnered with IBM to launch the CalCloud IaaS solution last July. The company manages the private cloud service inside of the state’s two tier-three data centers, offering Windows, Linux or AIX operating systems.

The CalCloud infrastructure currently supports applications from 14 customers — mostly from state government — including the California State Controller’s Office, Secretary of State, Department of Motor Vehicles, Emergency Management Services Authority, and Department of Food and Agriculture. The service also has at least one local government customer, the city of Rohnert Park near San Francisco.

“Adoption has been slow,” said Ghods. “But we experienced some of this with our email service offering also.”

California’s cloud email solution, launched in 2010 and hosted by Microsoft in the Office 365 environment, now houses about half of the state government’s 200,000 email boxes, according to state documents.

Several new CalCloud customers may be on the horizon, however. Ghods says his office is working with at least three large agencies on major deployments, and it’s having “advanced discussions” with several other local governments.

“Everyone is waiting for the lowest rate, but they’re also wanting to bring a few servers in,” he said. “The sooner we get more customers in, the better it will be.”

Steve Towns

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.