May 9, 2010 By Andy Opsahl
A group of seven Colorado counties have found a way to drive their hosted software costs downward each year. Instead of purchasing cloud computing services from a vendor that will raise its prices progressively, the agencies are purchasing hosted software services from one another.
In 2008, Pueblo County, Colo., began delivering cloud-computing-style hosted county assessor and treasurer software services to six other counties. The strategy either stabilized or reduced costs for all involved. The arrangement actually became a revenue generator for Pueblo County, which hired three extra employees for the sole purpose of delivering this service to the other counties. Municipalities receiving the software services pay a fee to Pueblo County and insist customer satisfaction is higher than with the private vendors they used in the past. Conejos, Costilla, Alamosa, Rio Grande, Saguache and San Juan are the other six counties participating.
Enabling all county participants to tap into the same software cloud may sound relatively simple at first blush, but it caused a mountain of complications for Dan Mauro, information systems director for Pueblo County. The hosted software, developed by the Pueblo County IT staff, interacted with each participating county's equipment differently. This meant Mauro's workers had to tweak it six different times. Doing just one of those conversions would take more than a year under normal circumstances, said Mauro. His employees did six conversions in one year.
"It almost killed me," Mauro said. "I was working 70- and 80-hour weeks most of the year."
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