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California IT Consolidation Efforts Making Headway, Official Says

The California Office of the State Chief Information Officer is trying to build consensus among interdepartmental work groups in order to reach target deadlines for IT consolidation.

by / June 16, 2010

SACRAMENTO -- The California Office of the State Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is well on its way to reaching target deadlines for IT consolidation.

At a TechLeader TV event in downtown Sacramento on Wednesday, June 17, Christy Quinlan, California's chief deputy of IT services, discussed the state's progress and future plans to meet requirements in the Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's Feb. 9 executive order for technology consolidation -- an ambitious overhaul of the state's IT facilities, networks, e-mail solutions, servers and storage. With agencies under the governor's authority required to reach specific goals by set deadlines, the state is aiming to save $1.5 billion over five years. Specific mandates of the executive order include:

  • All CIOs under the governor's direct executive authority will move to the state's shared e-mail and security encryption solution by June 2010, and work with the OCIO to migrate to the state's shared e-mail solution by June 2011.
  • All CIOs under the governor's authority will work with the OCIO to reduce the total amount of data center square footage used by state agencies by 25 percent by July 2010, and 50 percent by July 2011.
  • CIOs will begin transitioning the hosting of all mission-critical and public-facing applications to a Tier 3 data center designated by the OCIO by September 2010 and start closing all server rooms that house non-network equipment by June 2013. Already in effect, all new mission-critical and public-facing apps and major server refreshes will be hosted in a Tier 3 data center.
  • CIOs under the governor's authority will begin migrating from their existing network services to the California Government Network (CGN) by July 2010. 
  • CIOs will develop cost-saving plans by reducing IT and telecommunications equipment energy consumption -- to be reduced 10 percent by July 2010, 20 percent by July 2011 and 30 percent by July 2012.

By forming six work groups -- composed of 178 state IT employees -- the state is working to meet these goals and become a model for IT consolidation and cost savings.

Quinlan said E-Hub migration (moving agencies to one common e-mail filter) is nearly complete, with 95 percent of agencies on board, and a hosted e-mail solution is on track to be completed by June 2011.

A consolidated e-mail directory is also in the works that will require moving more than 100 employee directories into one encompassing directory, she said.

The state also just reduced its total data center square footage by about 25 percent when it closed the Sacramento Cannery data center this past weekend, Quinlan said. The computer equipment from the Cannery was moved to the OCIO's remaining data center in Rancho Cordova, Calif., which eliminated one of its two active centers, she said.

The OCIO has also asked agencies to start transitioning the hosting of mission-critical and public-facing apps to a Tier 3 data center, she said. She also reported that 60 percent of departments have started using virtualization concepts.

To better track compliance, the OCIO is planning to compile scorecards for individual state agencies and departments that don't report through an agency, which will then be posted online, Quinlan said. The scorecards will show an agency's progress in meeting IT consolidation standards.

Some lessons already learned include allowing enough time, planning and meeting early, having the right team members and escalating issues sooner than later, she said.

But the backbone of this massive consolidation project is trust, she said. "People have really trusted that the outcome is going to work," she said.

Despite the state's traditionally late budget, Quinlan said these efforts shouldn't be affected by such a slowdown, if it were to occur. Because the executive order is a budget-neutral effort, agencies are doing this work with "refresh dollars," which is essentially hardware replacement funds, she said. "We've been cutting costs and have not done this with any new dollars," she said. "That itself has been a challenge to everybody and speaks to people's creativity."

And while many unknowns abound in the OCIO -- Teri Takai may leave her post as state CIO to become the Department of Defense CIO and newly sworn-in Chief Deputy CIO Mike Locatis could take over for Takai when she leaves -- the fact that these efforts are mandated by an executive order means that the consolidation will continue forward no matter who is California's technology chief.

"So we're full steam ahead," Quinlan said. "We've gotten a lot accomplished in an amazingly short amount of time."


Editor's Note: This story was edited for style, to correct target dates and deleted mention of OCIO's consolidation work groups.


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Karen Wilkinson

Karen is a former staff writer for Government Technology magazine.

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