Utah, CIO, Steve Fletcher Steve Fletcher, CIO, Utah/Four Questions Photo by Kelly LaDuke

Utah state government is preparing a private cloud that will offer hosted e-mail and Web applications to cities and counties within the state, according to Steve Fletcher, state CIO and executive director of Utah's Department of Technology Services.

The move is a natural extension of Utah's data center consolidation initiative, which has been under way for several years, said Fletcher, in an interview with Government Technology. It also dovetails with growing government interest in cloud computing and software as a service.

"We're consolidating and virtualizing [state government servers] now. So from there, we will have all of our state agencies essentially virtualized -- they'll be in the cloud," said Fletcher. "Then we will start to add local entities. We're in contact with six or eight cities that are saying, 'Yeah we'd love to have you take over our operations.'"

Fletcher expects private clouds to become common among states like Utah -- which ranked first in the Center for Digital Government's 2008 Digital States Survey -- that have invested in modernizing their technology infrastructures.

"A lot of states are finding that they're going to put their own form of cloud computing in place, since they have very sophisticated operations," he said. "Through our consolidation, we've become the center of excellence for Utah."

Private clouds also offer an alternative for state and local agencies that want to take advantage of hosted applications, but are uncomfortable turning over government data and applications to private providers.

"They understand that we know how to protect the information and we know how to handle it. All those issues of access and ownership and security have already been resolved," Fletcher said. "So it's a lot safer for them, and if we can show them that our prices are very similar to what's offered in the commercial side, then they're saying, 'This is a good idea.'"