Paying for Clustering

"Most government organizations look at the bottom line and not the long-term benefits of reliable systems," Arvay said. "In addition, the consolidation effort of support and systems ... will allow a great number of government agencies to utilize these systems, which helps justify the ROI."

Evansville and Vanderburgh County paid for the initial cost of consolidating into a clustered solution by re-evaluating the entire network piece by piece. Arvay and Rolley asked engineers to imagine that all existing components lie on the floor, and to create a plan that envisioned an effective, highly available network from those parts -- focusing on availability and survivability of existing systems and processes.

They realized a cost savings by not upgrading and maintaining separate systems, which then allowed them to upgrade one system to a cluster. Any excess parts were put up for sale via government surplus auction.

In addition, the IT budget was reduced by reviewing several expensive hardware and software maintenance contracts that were no longer necessary as a direct result of the consolidation/clustering effort. In some cases, the level of maintenance purchased annually became unnecessary because those devices were covered by standbys under the new clustering system.

Finally the mayor and County Commissioners Cheryl Musgrave, Bill Nix and Tom Shetler Jr., and former Commissioner Rep. Suzanne Crouch allowed Arvay to reinvest year one savings from the consolidation efforts back into the system to improve it.

Both Arvay and Rolley agree that the consolidation and switch to a clustered solution would not have been possible without strong support and leadership from executives that placed a priority on identifying opportunities to increase efficiencies within government, including efficiencies in IT.

Leslie Friesen  |  Contributing Writer