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States Transition from Cloud-First to Cloud-Smart Strategy

At the NASCIO Annual Conference, Arkansas Chief Information Officer Yessica Jones explained how her state’s data center consolidation has set the stage for making smart choices about what’s going to the cloud.

Arkansas CIO Yessica Jones
Arkansas CIO Yessica Jones
erepublic/David Kidd
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A theme among tech leaders at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Annual Conference was that states are now moving from cloud first to “cloud smart.” Like many states, Arkansas, having begun its data center consolidation, is now evaluating what is ideal to move to the cloud and what is better left on-premises.

CIO Yessica Jones first described her state’s massive effort to optimize its infrastructure and co-locate its data center in spring 2018. A move to the cloud was always a part of that plan, and now that all those base systems are in place, the IT department is working together with its systems integrator to determine the smartest path forward, what she calls “cloud right.”

Many CIOs at the NASCIO conference echoed Jones. North Dakota CIO Shawn Riley, who said he took his state from “cloud never” to “cloud first” overnight when he took office, cautioned that cloud-first does not mean every system will be in the cloud. Like Jones, he emphasized that it is important to determine what is appropriate.

“It’s cloud first as we look at the environments and say does this really meet the needs, does this have the cost-effectiveness, does it give us the empowered utility of the tool set that we want to have," Riley said. “If it does, we’ll go cloud. If not, maybe an on-prem solution will be the right choice.”

Ohio CIO Ervan Rodgers was measured in his approach, and stressed the importance of making sure that the systems that are now in the cloud are well in control.

“Now that we’ve gotten out there [in the cloud], we’ve gotten some proven applications, we’ve got some use cases, I think it’s now time to make sure we have the appropriate guard rails in place,” Rodgers said. 

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the status of Arkansas' data center consolidation.

Lauren Kinkade is the managing editor for Government Technology magazine. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Berkeley, and more than 15 years’ experience in book and magazine publishing.