Everywhere you turn, state and local governments have launched consolidation initiatives to save resources. Consolidation can reduce costs, boost efficiency and foster green computing.
At many organizations, data center consolidation is gaining popularity. Reducing the number of servers creates a quick return on investment. But that's just the low-hanging fruit; there's potentially more savings awaiting harvest. Savvy public-sector leaders pursuing IT consolidation are quick to look beyond servers and fix their gaze on the organization's network operations centers, wiring closets and desktops.
The data center is a good place to begin consolidation efforts because it constitutes such a large operational expense. Organizations can reduce the number of servers to manage through virtualization and installation of blade servers, but there's a lot more infrastructure in the data center to consider.
Scrutinizing power and cooling equipment is one example. Centralizing uninterruptible power supplies can increase availability, simplify operations and improve energy efficiency. And don't forget about all that storage in the data center. Smart storage area network deployments can extend existing storage availability to all servers and applications. What's more, many public-sector organizations recognize the value in migrating from tape storage to disk and deploying data deduplication technology to shrink backup times.
Next, consider telecom. Has your organization made the move to Voice over IP? Besides ringing up savings, VoIP phones add and enhance mobility. The next step, unified communications, enables integration of voicemail with e-mail; collaboration; presence; and high-end video conferencing.
And what about applications? Like many organizations, your IT department might oversee a mishmash of e-mail applications. Not only are there more systems to support, but the lack of a global directory and standard naming conventions impede collaboration among employees.
The state of New York recently consolidated e-mail systems to Microsoft Outlook and Exchange with the goal of saving some $30 million over five years, according to Dr. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, the state's CIO.
Total cost of ownership creeps upward when IT has to support multiple applications that perform the same function. Consolidating applications and working with fewer technology providers give state and local governments better purchasing power and more attractive maintenance fees. Better insight into software licensing can aid software asset management practices, too.
Finally, forward-thinking states such as Minnesota are centralizing some aspects of cybersecurity (see "Centralize Cybersecurity, Share Widely," Page 47). IT can accomplish more together than individual departments can achieve on their own, and generally for less money.
Server virtualization is only the beginning of the path to consolidate infrastructure for increased efficiency and savings. That path can take many routes in state and local government. Which path is your IT department taking?lSTl
IT consolidation is part of a broader consoliÂdation trend in state and local government. Hit by harsh economic realities, some counties and cities are merging with other jurisdictions, and states are streamlining government agencies.
For example, this year Michigan consolidated the Department of Management and Budget with the Department of Information Technology into a new Department of Technology, Management and Budget led by state CIO Ken Theis.