Adel Ebeid, Philadelphia’s chief innovation officer, wants to manage IT, not build it.
Under his leadership, the city has moved 30 percent of its IT footprint into the cloud over the past three years. By the end of 2016, that number is expected to reach 50 percent, Ebeid said Tuesday, at Governing’s Outlook 2015: State & Local Market Forecast, in Washington, D.C. The remaining IT assets will be provisioned in a private cloud.
Government data centers should be reserved for things that absolutely must exist in-house, such as sensitive data, Ebeid explained. Everything else should be a candidate for a cloud offering.
A three-year-old cloud-first strategy ensures that the city considers mature cloud offerings when procuring IT. “Every RFP that goes out, we ask for a cloud-first solution,” Ebeid noted. “If there isn’t [one], then we ask for a meaningful managed-services arrangement. If there isn’t [one], then we figure out how to bring it into a private cloud.”
Potential cost savings aren’t the main driver behind Philadelphia’s cloud adoption, Ebeid said. “We really don’t go out to the cloud because it’s going to cost less.”
“In our case, really, we wanted to focus on how do we extend government beyond the traditional hours of 8 to 4,” he added. “The level of reliability that an external organization can provide is far greater than we can ever hope to have money to provide. It’s the best decision for us.”
When Ebeid began managing Philadelphia’s daily IT operations in 2011, there were 384 full-time employees working on IT-related issues. Today, at a time when the IT workforce’s portfolio has grown nearly twofold, that number has dropped to 327. Savings have been used to invest in areas where the city lacked expertise, such as open data programs, a robust civic technology program, an innovation management approach, and an innovation academy for city employees.
“I don’t think we would be able to accomplish all that if we couldn’t remove the IT organization out of the critical path and move more to cloud,” Ebeid said.
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