Cloud computing drew a lot of interest among state and local IT officials last year. Not everyone is on board with the approach yet, but they can't seem to stop asking questions about it.

One CIO deserving more attention as a leader in this area is Toni Cramer of Bellevue, Wash. The IT infrastructure she manages in Bellevue hosts software shared by 39 other organizations: 34 cities, one county, a fire district, two economic development councils and an airport. All of these users were brought into Cramer's data center by eCityGov.net, an alliance formed in 2001 by nine Puget Sound-area cities to provide shared, Web-based services. Cramer co-chairs the organization's board of directors.

Among the hosted services eCityGov.net: online building permits, parks and recreation information, maps, commercial property listings, procurement bid submissions, job listings and human services functions.

Participating governments share the costs of running the applications, based on their population sizes. Only partner members, who pay an extra fee, get the right to vote on new services, which are available through eCityGov.net and developed with the help of survey research of citizen preferences. Before each new application goes live, individuals representing the application's target market test beta versions of the software.

Microsoft, based in nearby Redmond, Wash., donated consulting services to eCityGov.net's founding cities when they created the innovative arrangement nine years ago. Today the organization's hosted, shared services model looks even more attractive as local governments struggle to deliver services on recession-battered budgets.

Cramer may not be the most high-profile CIO in government, but she was running a government-to-government cloud long before it was trendy.

Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor