Why the value of IT consolidation is greater now than ever

Recently, at a regular meeting of agency and department chief information officers, I received some important feedback about the statewide IT consolidation effort required by AB 2408. The measure was signed into law last year (originally called for in Executive Order S-03-10 issued in March, 2010) to save energy and improve IT efficiencies within the executive branch. We have a vocal and thriving IT community and I always appreciate the chance to address questions. As you know, the IT consolidation initiative requires executive branch departments to move to Tier III Data Centers and the statewide email system and network, among other things.

To paraphrase, the question was, why are you requiring departments to spend more money to meet deadlines outlined in AB 2408, especially when the State is in a budget crisis?

The simple answer is, we are not. Departments are expected to meet the requirements as they refresh their equipment, which will naturally occur over the next few years.

Why focus on consolidation now if it’s going to happen over the next few years? Consolidation does not happen without considerable planning and insight. That is why we are working with IT professionals throughout the state to prepare for a smooth transition. Without proper planning, we may miss opportunities to create efficiencies and to take advantage of refresh opportunities.

Further, with a multi-billion dollar deficit, now more than ever, we need to be creative and figure out how to share resources.

CIOs and IT professionals have many important decisions to make as we need to be more engaged, working with program heads and our private-sector partners to find solutions. In fact, we are here not to indulge the state bureaucracy, but to work with our programs to enable government to better serve the people of California. The more resources we save, the less we need to cut from programs.

So with the change of administration and prolonged budget crisis, why do IT consolidation at all? The Brown Administration is committed to this effort to modernize our technology infrastructure. Not to mention, it is required by law. It’s all about working smarter, sharing resources and doing more with less. We can no longer afford to approach IT in 130 different ways. Most states are consolidating IT. Many Fortune 500 companies are doing it.

This is an important time for our profession and a historic opportunity to do great work and make a difference. Currently we have more than 200 people working on the consolidation initiative throughout state government. There are work groups on email, facilities, networks and servers. I encourage our state IT workforce to learn more, get involved and step up to the challenge.