Aug 28 2014

What States Can Learn from Wyoming’s Cloud Strategy

Wyoming is moving much of its infrastructure operations to the cloud as companies like Microsoft opt to expand their data center operations there.

Wyoming may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of states leading the adoption of government cloud computing.

But Wyoming was the first to adopt Google Apps for Government statewide after consolidating 13 separate email systems, and employees today are using Google Docs and collaboration tools to get their work done, according to InfoWorld. The state has given cloud-first a whole new meaning by mandating the use of Gmail, but allows state agencies to decide whether to use Microsoft Office or Google productivity apps.

Even if government officials wanted to move back to the old data center model, doing so would be hard because “legislators and agency executives will not approve more data center construction now that cloud computing appears to be a more viable and cost-effective option,” the InfoWorld article notes.

Wyoming Is a Hot Spot for Cloud

The good news for state officials is that the cloud is moving to Wyoming. The state is quickly becoming a destination hot spot for companies like Microsoft, which announced plans earlier this year to expand its data center campus there, Data Center Knowledge reported in April. Microsoft has slated $274 million to build its cloud infrastructure in Cheyenne, bringing the company’s total investment in the area to about $500 million.

The Wyoming Business Council cites the state’s low cost of doing business and low electricity costs as perks that make Wyoming an ideal location for companies looking to expand their data center operations. Promoting these benefits has been a priority for Gov. Matt Mead.

“Wyoming has so many comparative advantages for data centers,” Mead said following the Microsoft announcement. “I have worked with the Legislature to position Wyoming as a competitive location for these high-valued projects. It is exciting to see these efforts produce results.”

As the state generates more and more data from oil and gas extraction and other operations, there is a growing need to invest in IT solutions that rapidly support the state’s changing needs. Wyoming’s cloud strategy includes closing one of its two data centers within the next six months and moving most of its remaining IT infrastructure to a colocation facility by 2016, according to Computerworld.

State CIO Flint Waters told the news outlet that it only makes sense for Wyoming to use the commercial data centers that it hopes others across the country will invest in.

"To say that it's great for everyone else to store their data in Wyoming, but we want to build our own [data centers], seems a bit counterintuitive," Waters said.

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