The Advantages Of Sharing IT Initiatives With Neighboring Jurisdictions

Jurisdictions stretch resources by collaborating across boundaries.

While many people feel uncomfortable asking for help, support is often available everywhere they look. This is especially true of state and local government IT, where leaders have discovered new ways to pool resources and collaborate with neighboring jurisdictions.

The state of Georgia, for example, has burst through traditional boundaries with several IT initiatives. The Georgia Technology Agency offers high-speed network connections and phone services through its contract to roughly 1,400 government entities throughout the Peach State. Meanwhile, the Georgia Department of Labor has joined forces with three other states to develop a modern unemployment insurance system that the consortium will share.

CIO Calvin Rhodes hints that Georgia will soon host another state's mainframes in its Tier 4 data center, which is hardened to protect against tornadoes and other natural disasters. "It's about being a good neighbor and leveraging each other's facilities," Rhodes says. "We have the capacity available, and it benefits us as well because it can offset some direct costs."

Johnson County, Kan., provides IT services to some cities within the county; in turn, those communities share fiber with the county. "This is how we do things here," says Jack Clegg, Johnson County's director of IT services. "It's not one-sided. You work together and have an open dialogue and see what opportunities exist."

To discover other ways in which states and localities have forged partnerships, turn to "Cross-Boundary Collaboration" on Page 22.

Infrastructure Improvements

All this sharing of applications and services calls for fast networks, such as the 10 Gigabit Ethernet core the city of Savannah, Ga., recently deployed. Leaping to a modern infrastructure to support a new data center, the city standardized on Juniper Networks gear that offers room for growth. Find out more about how agencies have ramped up resiliency in "Speed It Up" on Page 30.

Robust networks also form an underpinning for cloud computing, particularly software as a service. Many organizations have turned to Microsoft Office 365 for the cost savings and strong features the platform offers. Readers can glean the lessons learned from fellow IT leaders in "Messages in the Cloud" on Page 42.

<p>Matthew Gilson</p>
Jan 24 2012