State IT consolidation is no picnic, but three years into the consolidation process, technology leaders for the state of Louisiana will tell you that it’s worth it.
This is because the state has realized over $70 million in savings by modernizing and consolidating IT systems and has created efficiencies in its business and IT processes by implementing a shared services model through an enterprise architecture.
Louisiana launched its consolidation process in 2014 with an executive order and, through later legislation, brought all 162 executive branch agencies and 850 IT staffers under one roof: the new Office of Technology Services (OTS). This shift brought everything from procurement all the way through service delivery for networking, the data center, application development, project management and more under one agency.
In the first few years, Matt Vince, director of project management for OTS, says the state has been focusing on the larger aspects of consolidating systems, mainly around deploying shared services in the data center.
“The introduction of the Office of Technology Services has led to a lot of organizational change,” he says. “We have torn down a lot of traditional silos that existed in IT, like the networking versus infrastructure divide. Now those are integrated and we are delivering services in the data center regardless of the underlying tech.”
Building Transparent and Efficient Government Platforms
After getting those consolidations in place and achieving what Vince calls “easy wins” with the new architecture by employing a hyperconverged data center strategy, Louisiana has turned its eye to identifying efficiencies in agency applications.
“Now we’re beginning to get into the more difficult stuff,” says Vince, “which is around designing applications and platforms that can truly be shared across our entire state enterprise.”
This includes identifying many of the similar applications that agencies use to track workloads, uploads and payments and bringing them all on to a single platform. Previously, the state lacked a central data management platform, making it difficult to track and maintain its interactions with different departments or customers. Since data resided on several disparate systems, each agency also had to create a new enterprise account.
By turning to Splunk Enterprise, the state is able to aggregate, track and manage the data on one platform, without requiring staff to log hours manually.
“This really was a springboard to modernization,” says OTS Chief Technology Officer Michael Allison. “It really did afford us the opportunity to change the infrastructure. But it also allows us to look at how we are providing services for our constituents and our customers, as well as how we look at our technology, much of which is nearly 20 years old, and how we modernize that to make it much more agile, efficient and flexible.”
Already, the IT department has unveiled insights into its Medicare and Medicaid enrollment system and pursued shared services architecture that creates efficiencies in the department.
“Being able to pull together data from various sources — to provide really good insight into information that exists today but is kind of hidden away — into something that is reportable, searchable, indexable that we can provide to our internal systems, our engineers, our billing department and eventually to our customers to provide insights where we’ve never seen them before, that’s the role that Splunk is really playing today,” says Vince.
Moreover, OTS generates revenue by billing agencies for the services it provides, so greater transparency and trust in billing and services has proven a major advantage. With Splunk, the agency is able to build cost allocation reports with the data from several systems and shed light on those costs and services.
“The systems we are putting together now will allow us to provide a transparent picture back to our customers,” says Vince.
Going forward, Allison says the state will look to Splunk to expand its cloud presence and continue to move away from a federated IT model to one that is consolidated and, as a result, more able to take advantage of new and emerging technologies.
“Through partnerships with companies like Splunk, VMware and others, we’re positioning ourselves to be on the forefront of technology as opposed to treading water,” he says.