King County, Wash., IT services are getting a makeover. By the end of the year, the county, which includes Seattle, plans to undergo an enterprisewide reorganization by centralizing IT staff and servers, and moving to private and public clouds.

The plan to reorganize IT services was proposed by County Executive Dow Constantine and approved on July 11 by the Metropolitan King County Council, according to the county.

While the changes were approved July 11, original plans to reorganize started in 2004, said King County CIO Bill Kehoe.

Under the reorganization, the county will consolidate all IT services and staff in the executive branch into one department, Kehoe said. With the reorganization, the formerly titled Office of Information Resource Management will be renamed the King County Department of Information Technology (KCIT).

“The reason the executive proposed a consolidation of IT in the executive branch is really to be more efficient in how we apply IT services,” Kehoe said. “It gives us an opportunity, instead of departments having to do everything IT, to really define those areas that we can do things in a common direction such as cloud computing and server consolidation and move in those directions.”

The new organization created a central team of experts — IT staff in the executive branch department — to collaborate and use skills more effectively, Kehoe said.

“We’ll be able to provide expertise to all the agencies in different technology areas instead of having to hire a whole host of different experts to utilize new technology,” said King County Webmaster Sabra Schneider.

The county plans to consolidate all of its departments’ servers — approximately 900 total — into its state-of-the-art data center and plans to complete the consolidation process by 2012, Kehoe said. However, certain servers like those used for 911 service, are associated with lab equipment that connects them to a specific business function, which doesn’t allow them to be consolidated into the county’s data center. So far 154 devices have been moved into the data center.

Once the consolidation process is complete next year, the county will move forward with migrating into a private cloud computing environment, he said. Next year, the KCIT will submit a funding request to the Metropolitan King County Council to start building the cloud.

Previously each department had its own server and storage environment, but Kehoe said the KCIT plans to transition into the private cloud environment while attempting to keep a 2012 to 2015 time frame for completion.

This fall, the KCIT will focus on rolling out its public cloud environment by using Microsoft Office 365 — the company’s recently launched cloud service. According to Microsoft, the service provides the company’s popular productivity suite SharePoint and Exchange.

King County already has an enterprise agreement with Microsoft and plans to continue on as one of the company’s existing Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) customers, but in the cloud. Kehoe said the county uses BPOS for SharePoint, video conferencing, instant messaging and other features, however, according to Microsoft, BPOS is no longer available for purchase.

Kehoe said after the full migration into the public and private clouds, the reorganization is anticipated to save $10 million over a five-year period.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.