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Master Your Cloud Migration Strategy: What Five Government Organizations Learned on the Way to the Cloud


Government organizations are using the cloud to cut costs, implement disaster recovery solutions, maximize security and establish a platform that enables innovation and agility.

Master Your Cloud Migration Strategy: What Five Government Organizations Learned on the Way to the Cloud

Government organizations are using the cloud to cut costs, implement disaster recovery solutions, maximize security and establish a platform that enables innovation and agility. And while the road to cloud isn’t always easy, it is doable.

Recently, state and local leaders representing five innovative government agencies — Hennepin County, Minn., the Florida Department of Financial Services, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the cities of New York and San Francisco — gathered to discuss what they learned during their cloud migrations during a virtual summit hosted by Oracle. Their experiences serve as valuable insights for government organizations considering how to begin their own migrations.

City and County of San Francisco
San Francisco’s Department of Technology supports 50 government departments with enterprise applications and ensures secure connections to those applications. In response to application owner concerns, the department built a centralized, secure and highly available portal for critical applications using Oracle Identity Cloud Service. The department now relies on a single sign-on portal for employees, retirees, suppliers — and eventually citizens — to access critical applications using a single dashboard. In doing so, they improved the customer experience, reduced the number of service tickets and significantly reduced the time it takes to integrate new applications from months to weeks.

“Starting with Oracle Identity Cloud Service allowed us to get our feet wet and learn more about using cloud before we take larger steps,” says Michael Makstman, chief information security officer for the city and county of San Francisco.

Moving to cloud also improved application security with multifactor authentication.

“Before, if someone couldn’t remember their password, they’d have to call in to recover it,” says Makstman. “With our cloud-based solution, they sign in once to access everything, and they don’t have to sit on hold or wait until the next business day to call somebody in the county.”

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) faced rising costs related to maintaining aging IT hardware supporting its PeopleSoft and other business critical applications. To become more nimble and increase efficiency over the long term, the organization moved its PeopleSoft environments to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI).

According to Charlie Eckstrom, chief information officer at MWD, moving to the cloud required persistence.

“As we started the journey, we had to convince some of our stakeholders, particularly our legal department, that our data would be secure as we moved to the cloud,” Eckstrom says.

MWD worked with Oracle and its consulting partners to design a highly secure system that encrypts data both in transit and at rest. The efforts paid off.

“We feel we are more secure now than when we had the infrastructure in our own data center,” says Eckstrom.

Since moving to the cloud, MWD has experienced zero downtime and eliminated the need for 24x7 monitoring and associated costs. It can now scale infrastructure resources in minutes as needed, while cloud-based disaster recovery capabilities mean they are always ready to respond to or recover from an incident, ensuring the reliability of critical infrastructure in Southern California.

“We feel like we made the right decision, and we have plans to move many more applications to Oracle cloud,” says Eckstrom. “Knowing what I know now, I wish we would have pushed to get this done a year or two sooner than when we actually did.”

Hennepin County, Minnesota
Hennepin County relied on on-prem PeopleSoft solutions to manage HR and financials for years, but when it came time to perform a hardware refresh, the county decided it was time to make a change.

Hennepin selected OCI for its capabilities and because it offers a Microsoft Azure Interconnect capability, so the county could migrate and integrate its Microsoft and Oracle environments.

The county now benefits from the enhanced security capabilities, which has increased protection of its sensitive HR and financial data. OCI also streamlined and optimized life cycle management tasks such as patches and upgrades, freeing up staff to implement innovative operational solutions instead. It’s also reduced costs.

“Cloud allows us to ramp up and ramp down infrastructure resources as needed, so we spend money only when we need more processing power, like during budget time or open enrollment,” says Swaps Mohanty, IT division manager in the Office of Budget and Finance at Hennepin County.

Florida Department of Financial Services
Florida’s original accounting and cash management systems were implemented in 1980. Over the years, the systems began to use more resources, require more maintenance and generate inconsistencies. Simultaneously, state technical experts were leaving or retiring, and the systems could no longer be expanded or enhanced.

Today, the Florida Planning, Accounting and Ledger Management (PALM) Project is replacing the state’s accounting and cash management systems with an integrated, enterprise financial management solution from Oracle that will allow the state to organize, define and standardize its financial management processes.

According to Melissa Turner, project director for the Florida PALM project, flexibility, scalability and an improved user experience were key to selecting OCI for the project.

“We needed flexibility without much overhead, because if we encounter an issue, we need to be able to investigate it, look at alternatives and quickly spin up a new environment without effecting other planned work we have,” says Turner. “Our users are anxious to see elements of our solution, so having a scalable architecture helps us set up prototypes for specific functions. When they see it, they start to believe it, and that builds support.”

New York City Housing Development Corporation
The New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) is the nation's largest municipal housing finance agency. Charged with helping finance the creation or preservation of affordable housing, HDC has financed more than 194,000 housing units since 2003. To reduce operational costs and avoid an impending hardware refresh, HDC decided to phase out its data center. HDC also wanted to update its disaster recovery approach by shifting from a standalone site to an integrated, cloud-based architecture. HDC engaged Oracle to move several applications to OCI and leverage Oracle Azure Interconnect. The project kicked off in January 2021, and the migration of applications was completed and brought online in March 2021.

Paul Cackler, CIO at HDC, says Oracle Azure Interconnect was an important element of the project that enabled the organization to migrate to the cloud and leverage a multicloud strategy.

“For many years, we've been a mixed shop of Windows and Oracle. When we started getting serious about migrating to the cloud, Oracle Azure Interconnect was in preview. We were very happy to learn about the Microsoft/Oracle partnership and immediately saw that it fit with our technology stack,” says Cackler. “Once we went live, it was one of the first things we turned on.”

Cackler credits the Oracle professional services team and his internal team working side-by-side for HDC’s quick migration to the cloud.

“One thing we were pleasantly surprised to hear in terms of feedback from our users was that everything was working faster, so they were able to get their work done faster,” says Cackler. “That was definitely a plus for us. With cloud, some people worry there's going to be a latency, or the user experience isn't going to be the same. It was gratifying to see that it was faster, and our employees recognized that.”

To hear more about how these five organizations completed successful migrations to the cloud, watch the Master Your Cloud Migration Strategy Oracle State and Local Government Virtual Cloud Summit  here.