Dec 31st 2014 | Posted in State, Technology, Trends by Mary Scott Nabers

SPI President & CEO Mary Scott Nabers

SPI President & CEO Mary Scott Nabers

Consolidation is a word that often strikes fear in the heart of a public servant. In the past, consolidation usually meant fewer full time employees (FTEs).

Today, however, consolidation doesn’t always mean fewer workers. The basic concept behind consolidation is that by combining public agencies or entities that are performing similar functions, costs can be reduced.  Additionally, tasks can be streamlined and service delivery is usually enhanced.

The most common consolidations throughout the country occur with technology services and usually at the state level.

According to a McKinsey government report, “public sector CIOs recognize potential savings in IT consolidation and they don’t fight it.” According to the report, CIOs believe sharing data centers is a smart move. Collaboration can lead to best practices in IT and enhanced security, integrity and protection from potential cyber threats.

Most states are either in the process of evaluating data center consolidation or they have already accomplished major IT consolidations. Another trend that is strong is that state data is moving quickly to the cloud.

In Massachusetts, an unusually large IT consolidation plan is being hammered out on a Wiki that describes overall goals. The baseline or beginning point has 60 data centers, 55 desktop groups, 43 help desks, 23 email systems and 15 networks. The future is envisioned as a single state with two data centers, eight desktop groups, nine help desks, one e-mail system and one network. The effort is being designed to promote the benefits of efficiency, effectiveness and data security. The plan is being closely monitored.

North Carolina brands itself as a pioneer in the realm of consolidation. The state was one of the first to consolidate its mainframe computers in the 1980s. Texas moved to data center consolidation in the ’90s but suffered significant problems when it changed vendors 10 years later. Oklahoma’s consolidated data center effort is expected to save the state $13 million over the next five years.

Many see the newest trend in consolidation coming from multi-jurisdictional consolidation of data centers. For instance, a state data center may also serve three or four local school districts as well. And, some cities are considering data centers that can be shared by universities or community colleges located within the city limits.

Mary Scott Nabers

As President and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., Mary Scott Nabers has decades of experience working in the public-private sector. A well-recognized expert in the P3 and government contracting fields, she is often asked to share her industry insights with top publications and through professional speaking engagements.