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XChange SLED Speaker: States Embracing Public Cloud, Getting Out Of Owning IT Assets

State CIOs are looking to reduce their IT infrastructure burden by co-locating or virtualizing workloads and adopting public cloud tools, according to the executive director of NASCIO.

State CIOs are looking to reduce their IT infrastructure burden by co-locating or virtualizing workloads and adopting public cloud tools.

CIOs have shifted over the past decade from seeing themselves as owners and operators of IT infrastructure to brokers for a multitude of IT services that don’t necessarily have to be fulfilled using state resources, according to Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

’States are now becoming more contemplative: Are they good at rowing or steering?’ Robinson told more than 100 solution providers Wednesday at XChange SLED in Atlanta, hosted by CRN parent The Channel Company. ’States were always in the rowing part. Now I think they’re making the shift [to steering] because of the availability of services and cloud.’

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In fact, some state CIOs have told Robinson that they want to get completely out of the infrastructure and systems business in the next five to seven years and devote their time and budgets exclusively to orchestration and business transformation and procure the technology on an as-a-service basis.

’How they deliver the service is more important than whether or not they own the infrastructure,’ Robinson said.

As states shift money away from investing in infrastructure that supports cloud services, Robinson said the big public cloud players are more than happy to fill the void. In fact, some states have already moved their primary .gov portal outside state boundaries.

’Their next generation of data centers may not be in their state,’ Robinson said. ’They could be in northern Virginia somewhere as a virtual data center.’

More than 80 percent of CIOs told Robinson their state already has some applications in the cloud and is looking to migrate others over in the near future, up from just 32 percent in 2010.

’Cloud is clearly the major force of change [for state CIOs],’ Robinson said. ’It is becoming relatively mature.’

Going forward, more than half of state CIOs told Robinson that cloud will be the primary technology driving IT investment in the next five years, with the most aggressive CIOs providing cloud services not only to agencies within state government but also to municipalities within the state and other states entirely.


For instance, Robinson said the state of Oregon recently won industry recognition for relying on a data center in Montana for its disaster recovery and business continuity services.

The movement among political and nonprofit jurisdictions to share infrastructure isn’t limited to the West Coast, Robinson said, with the city of Cleveland relocating its mainframe to the state of Ohio’s data center in Columbus and a large medical center in Mississippi opting to use the state’s data center.

’We all need a new [data center] environment,’ Robinson said. ’Let’s build [just] one and share it.’

The most dramatic shifts have come around the outsourcing of IT applications and services, Robinson said, with 79 percent of state CIOs indicating they were doing so in 2015, compared with just 43 percent in 2010.

And the model of shared IT services for some or all operations has also gained more acceptance, Robinson said, with 83 percent of state CIOs indicating they were doing so in 2015, up from 66 percent in 2010.

David King, president and CEO of Novi, Mich.-based Red Level, said the embrace of cloud and off-premise infrastructure by state CIOs is more than overdue since it can help them hold the line on costs while scaling up capacity.

’The shift to cloud is becoming more and more apparent,’ King said.

A risk-averse mentality has kept many states from migrating more workloads to the cloud sooner, King said, centered largely around concerns related to control of proprietary data. King said solution providers such as Red Level – which has been in the cloud hosting business for 10 years – can play a major role in educating state CIOs and agencies around the opportunities associated with transitioning to cloud.

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