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Pennsylvania to Outsource Data Centers

While not its first venture into outsourcing, the state has issued an RFP for outside help in managing its consolidated data centers.

On Nov. 30, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania issued an RFP seeking a single contract for the external management of state data centers. In an effort to modernize, the state is looking for a new service arrangement that offers flexibility and security for its six data center facilities.

According to RFP documents, the state has been consolidating these facilities from six down to two over the past several years. One is privately managed by Unisys, and the other is staffed by the state work force. The contract for the existing privately managed data center is up at the end of 2014.

The move toward outsourcing the data center aligns with the state’s IT consolidation strategy, established via an Executive Order last amended in 2007. The directive laid out plans to consolidate Pennsylvania’s $1 billion information technology portfolio.

CIO George White issued an IT Strategic Plan earlier this year to guide state technology policy through 2015. The document outlined the need for new approaches to IT management, including outsourcing. “New models are emerging, and the commonwealth needs to seriously consider allowing private entities to own, provide and regularly upgrade its core IT systems,” the report says.

At an industry conference earlier this year, White mentioned that the state was looking at different data center outsourcing models in an effort to cut costs, and wanted to cast a wide net. White told Government Technology via email that he is unable to comment further now that the RFP has been issued.

The primary deliverables outlined in the RFP are an architecture plan and roadmap that describe how and with what technology platforms the vendor proposes to set up and connect the state’s data centers. Security provisions including firewalls, intrusion detection devices and virus detection must also be outlined, along with plans for disaster recovery and business continuity. Management plans, financials and reporting protocols must also be provided.

This is not the state’s first foray into outsourcing; Pennsylvania's initial efforts to manage its disparate IT environment date back to 1997. And in 2009, former state CIO Brenda Orth detailed the path undertaken by officials to outsource consolidation and shared services.

The full RFP to outsource Pennsylvania’s data center can be viewed here. Responses are due March 8, 2013.

Photo of Memorial Arch, Valley Forge National Park, Penn. from Shutterstock.

Noelle Knell has been the editor of Government Technology magazine for e.Republic since 2015. She has more than two decades of writing and editing experience, covering public projects, transportation, business and technology. A California native, she has worked in both state and local government, and is a graduate of the University of California, Davis, with majors in political science and American history. She can be reached via email and on Twitter.