Illinois Looks to a Modern IT Infrastructure
The state is building the new data center because existing infrastructure cannot keep pace with the demands of modern computing and the delivery of citizen services, according to acting Illinois CIO Jennifer Ricker.
“There’s a lot about it even logistically that doesn’t work well,” Ricker tells StateScoop. “In the past you had storage and backups and things that were on magnetic tape and now there’s solid-state drives and we have hyperconverged [infrastructure] and those are much denser and with raised flooring and all of those things. They also run a lot hotter so there’s even a challenge [with] the cooling and everything that comes with that.”
While infrastructure upgrades are critical to supporting modern digital government services, new data center hardware alone won’t help those services come to life and benefit citizens if state agencies can’t effectively use government data. That will require changes not just in technology but also in culture — something Ricker sees Illinois Chief Data Officer Dessa Gypalo helping to lead.
“There is a lot of foundational work that has to be done,” Ricker tells StateScoop. “It’s not as easy as ‘let me pull out this data and there’re magical insights from it.’ We really rely on that [CDO] position to guide the organization. All of the agencies we work with and support are really excited about the opportunity, the possibilities of using the data that they are collecting to do a better job at understanding how to come up with better policy decisions and in some cases how to get better outcomes.”
DoIT will also benefit from this shift as it seeks to support other state agencies in fulfilling their missions, Ricker says. Her department has started making better use of dashboards and service metrics, which helps DoIT explain and communicate with agencies on how it is helping them, she says.
“In addition it helps us make decisions on where we’re missing our marks that we’ve established in terms of our own service metrics,” she says. “It gives us the ability to take that data, use it for our own purposes but also share with the agencies how we’re doing serving them.”