Montana CIO Ron Baldwin speaks about the power of IT convergence at the 2016 Annual NASCIO Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Sep 20 2016
Data Center

NASCIO 2016: States Want to Break Down Silos, Centralize IT … and Use the Force

As more states strive to unite IT staff and resources, trends toward establishing a clarity in purpose and centralization emerge, with noticeable shifts.

State governments are not alone in their desire to take a sledgehammer to the dreaded silos in IT. But in addition to the divided human and technical resources centered on servers, networking and storage, state governments must grapple with the layers of county and city governments and subagency IT departments as well.

Take Kentucky, for instance. The Bluegrass State is the 26th most populous state in the U.S., but with 120 counties, it also has the second largest number of counties, right behind Texas.

Dealing with IT teams and systems at the department agency level in addition to the county level has created management woes for state IT leaders. Now, we’re seeing major shifts toward reducing complexity, centralizing IT and breaking down silos.

New York has been undergoing a radical transformation in the structure and operation of its IT department, and Mahesh Nattanmai, deputy CIO for the New York State Office of Information Services, was on hand at the 2016 Annual NASCIO Conference in Orlando, Fla., to give an update.

“We are in the fifth year of our journey, and we’ve had a lot of changes,” he said. “Key to our success has been really to focus on the basics — focus on the basics of people, process and technology."

With a mandate from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to build an IT department that could live on through multiple administrations, the state’s IT team has wrangled under its control and oversight 52 state agencies, 5,000-plus applications, 4,500 IT staff, 50-plus data centers and 10,000-plus servers, said Nattanmai

May the IT Convergence Be with You

Just because state governments are tasked with very serious business doesn’t mean state CIOs can’t have a little fun.

In one of the more endearing moments at the 2016 NASCIO Conference, Montana CIO Ron Baldwin marched onstage dressed in a Jedi-style robe to give a speech about the value his state has seen from adopting converged infrastructure and a collaborative approach to IT planning and management.

“In the state of Montana, to be specific, change is coming. Fearless leaders are meeting to come up with a plan to align the fleet. Rising costs in varying missions have separated and weakened the alliance,” said Baldwin. “Convergence is coming. We have a plan to move the alliance into the digital age and to save money. Everyone will benefit.”

Baldwin, who clearly committed to his Jedi character, put a humorous twist on things, but his Star Wars analogy holds.

“A few lone ships captained by independents from distant planets try to divert away from the plans that Governor Bullock has laid out for the rest of the fleet,” he said. “They want to buy their own ships. They want to fly their own ships. They don’t want to be weak in battle, but they are. They lose opportunities to collaborate and share and save.”

The truth comes in many forms — sometimes, that of a state CIO wearing a brown robe with a plastic light saber in hand, on stage at a conference of his peers. May the convergence be with you, state CIOs.

Visit our NASCIO 2016 event page for more coverage from the show.


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