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The Cloud Goes Mainstream

Plus, Portland lights a Google Fiber franchise agreement, and seven universities explore using big data to provide personalized education.

In a year full of big cloud deals, Pennsylvania’s $681 million contract with Unisys stands out as one of the biggest. The state announced in July that it would work with the company to launch a massive hybrid cloud for state agencies.

Under the seven-year deal, Unisys will move seven data center facilities to the cloud and allow agencies to provision computing resources on demand. Pennsylvania CIO Tony Encinias said the deal revolutionizes how his state does IT.

“Rather than attempting to predict our technology requirements years ahead of time, this contract will allow us to purchase services when we need them, giving us greater flexibility and efficiency while saving money,” he said.

The Pennsylvania announcement came on the heels of another cloud mega-deal. In June, Los Angeles County kicked off a plan to move more than 100,000 employees to Microsoft’s hosted Office 365 platform. County officials said the five-year contract is worth $72 million in licensing fees, but predicted that the switch would save $2.5 million annually compared with the county’s old email system.

“We’ve been working on this kind of arrangement for quite some time to consolidate some licenses,” said CIO Richard Sanchez. “Basically we had 16 enterprise agreements in place amongst the 37 county departments that we have.”

2014 also saw California launch CalCloud, a new private cloud service operated by IBM inside two state data centers; Colorado ink a $116 million contract with Hewlett-Packard for a hosted Medicaid claims processing system; and both Boston and Maryland complete Google Apps for Government implementations.  

Although public agencies still face challenges with procuring and budgeting for hosted solutions — Encinias notes that Pennsylvania’s contract took three years to put together — these deals show the cloud becoming firmly established in the mainstream of state and local government IT.

Back to the Year in Review: Making Sense of 2014


Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.