Ken Theis recently took the helm of the Michigan Department of Information Technology. Managing an agency of 1,700 employees, he is charged with delivering technology services to state government and setting the strategic direction for state IT.
Before his promotion to director, Theis served as chief deputy director of the organization. He replaces Teri Takai, who took an IT job in California government.
StateTech’s Managing Editor Amy Schurr recently interviewed Theis about his plans for IT in Michigan.
StateTech: What are your goals for MDIT?
Theis: My goals include making Michigan government even more accessible to the citizens and businesses across the state, with new online services. In addition, I look to foster greater partnerships with local government and private partners across Michigan so that we can combine resources in order to utilize technology to bring greater efficiency to all levels of government.
StateTech: What are the biggest or most pressing IT challenges your department faces?
Theis: Every IT organization faces the security challenge, and we are no different. While I’m proud of the work we have done to keep our servers and desktops secure, and while I’m pleased that we have had no major breach of security, it’s a constant challenge. Last year alone, our security staff stopped 575,628 e-mail virus attacks, 6,930,040 port-scanning attempts for unauthorized access, 14,532,390 Web-based and HyperText Transfer Protocol attack attempts, and 91,122,051 spam e-mails. Another challenge for us is the recruitment and development of our IT staff. Michigan suffered a massive loss of IT talent as a result of an early-retirement program offered several years ago, and we have been unable to replace that talent due to budget constraints. Those same budget problems hamper our ability to train and develop the remaining staff that we have.
StateTech: What current IT projects is your organization focused on?
Theis: We are in the midst of finishing the consolidation of our data centers into three secure locations, as well as finishing the work to consolidate the state’s e-mail systems.
StateTech: Tell me about the data-center consolidation. Theis: Our data-center migration project, which consolidated 29 separate hosting centers, saved millions of dollars while improving the overall security and quality of our data centers.
StateTech: What technologies are you piloting?
Theis: We are continuing to monitor the success of Voice over IP as part of our pilot with the Department of Human Services. Our telecommunications staff played an instrumental role in helping the Department of Human Services transition to a VoIP system for many of their field offices in southeast Michigan. This represents a major transition for telephone-system operations in the Department of Human Services.
StateTech: What IT projects are on tap for the near future?
Theis: We have a number of large, high-profile technology projects that will be implemented. This includes a replacement of legacy systems at the Department of State and Secretary of State branch offices across Michigan; a project called CHAMPS, which will overhaul the state’s Medicaid system; a project called Bridges, which will replace and consolidate the eligibility systems for the Department of Human Services; and MBT, which will replace our key tax systems at the Department of Treasury.
The implementation of these major IT projects is critical to our department’s success and to bringing improved service to the agencies we serve.
Appointed: December 2007
Reports to: Gov. Jennifer Granholm
Previous posts: Chief deputy director, Michigan Department of Information Technology, and several business and technology leadership positions at General Motors
Education: Bachelor of Science degree in automotive and heavy equipment management at Ferris State University, Master of Business Administration at Northwood University
Ken Theis, director of the Michigan Department of Information Technology, reflects on some of the organization’s 2007 projects that demonstrate best practices.
The Child Placing Network gives foster-care workers and protective services the ability to quickly and more efficiently find the best placement for children in imminent danger due to abuse or neglect. It also helps to keep siblings together and to place children in their own neighborhoods and schools. This is an outstanding way to use technology and has drastically improved Michigan‘s child placements.
Nearly every data-protection vendor has incorporated continuous data protection technology into its products. Here’s a sampling of offerings. (note to CDW: These prices were provided by individual vendors. CDW lists “call for pricing” for some of these. Can someone on your end please confirm or change the pricing as needed here?)
—Compiled by Deni Connor
|Company||Type of CDP||File or Block||User Self-Service|
|Atempo LiveBackup||Continuous||File and Block||Yes|
|Bakbone Software NetVault TrueCDP||Continuous||File||No (future)|
|CA Enterprise Rewinder/ High Availability (formerly WANSyncHA)||Continuous||File and Block||Yes/No|
|CommVault Continuous Data Replicator||Near-Continuous||File||Yes|
|Double-Take Software Time-Data||Continuous||File||Yes|
|EMC RecoverPoint||Continuous and Near-Continuous||Block||Yes|
|HP StorageWorks Continuous Information Capture Solution/HP OpenView Storage Data Protector||Continuous/Near-Continuous||Block/file||No/No|
|IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files||Continuous||File||Yes|
|Idealstor iBac CDP||Continuous||Yes||Yes|
|Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager||Near-Continuous||File||Yes|
|SonicWall SonicWall CDP 1440i, 2440i, 3440i and 4440i||Continuous||File and Block||Yes|
|Steeleye Technology Data Replication for Windows/Data Replication for Linux||Continuous and Near-Continuous||Block||No|
|Symantec Veritas Backup Exec Continuous Protection Server/Veritas NetBackup PureDisk||Near-Continuous/Near-Continuous||File/File||Yes/Yes|
|Yosemite Technologies FileKeeper Corporate||Near-Continuous||File||Yes|