An Office of the CTO Guest Blog
By Colleen McMillan
The following is the third in a three-part blog series about the VMware Journey to your cloud in the public sector. The previous installment, published February 27, 2012 outlined Phase 2-Business Production. This third installment describes the final segment of the journey: Phase 3 - IT as a Service.
We’ve already seen the benefits of the second phase of the VMware Journey, Business Production, where organizations virtualize their business-critical applications and the IT staff is freed to support end users with updated tools and services. In the public sector, that includes everyone from students and teachers to policeman and citizen constituents.
By this stage of the game, the organization is humming along smoothly. The virtual infrastructure is pretty much maintaining itself. And different areas of the organization are on-board with their virtualized applications.
What comes next? Innovation to make things even better.
For too long, IT has been a drain on an organization’s budget - a necessary evil to keep the machines humming but not much help when it came to making things better. But in the phase of the Journey, IT finally has its chance to shine by offering business value at the lowest possible cost. Imagine your IT organization given a chance to brainstorm ways for the organization to save more money or offer additional services. Better yet, imagine your IT team with the time and resources to make those new features a reality.
During this final phase of the journey, the organization approaches the desired end-state of an enterprise hybrid cloud, in which IT provides the highest business value at the lowest possible cost: IT as a service (ITaaS)..
A good example is the State of Michigan’s MiCloud Automated Hosting Services (AHS) solution, which recently won the NASCIO (National Association of State CIO) Fast Track Award. Everyone talks about "The Cloud,". but Michigan has captured the numerous benefits of cloud computing, rapidly transforming the way we deliver IT services to government," said Bob McDonough, Lead Cloud Architect, Office of Enterprise Architecture, State of Michigan, Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB). When our clients demanded ’more for less’ , we delivered MiCloud - a fully automated self-service cloud platform on a fast track in early 2011. Cloud Computing is not something you buy. It is something you do."
In planning MiCloud, the State of Michigan IT team did not request additional expenditures. Automated Hosting (AH) in the new ITaaS solution breaks barriers to consolidation, standardization, virtualization, and optimization through innovation. Thus, the AHS solution was able to provide immediate budget relief with an enterprise service that supports legacy application modernization, consolidation and infrastructure optimization. Overall, the MiCloud solution delivered VMs that run 99 percent faster and cost 75 percent less to operate with a projected ROI of 248 percent.
The state of Michigan not only realized early cost savings, but through the benefits of a private cloud managed to improve quality of services to its customers and ultimately provide additional business agility. "All state agencies are beneficiaries," said Bob McDonough, DTMB spokesperson for the MiCloud Fast Track NASCIO nomination. "State of Michigan decision makers gain the freedom to take risks and try new strategies, to succeed or fail quickly, then move on. Citizens and businesses enjoy service innovations sooner and appreciate the value for money delivered as a taxpayer."
Empowering Departments and End Users
Ideally at this stage, every IT service is fully defined in terms of its components, resources, and delivery guarantees. Different units or departments within an agency or school can select and obtain resources through a standardized and automated self-service catalog or on-demand. This reduces provisioning time to a fraction of what it once was. These groups are expensed for IT services via transparent chargeback and detailed reporting.
With a highly automated, low-maintenance cloud infrastructure in place, IT can focus on delivering innovations that enable new services, drive down costs and enhance the student or citizen experience. Consider what the cloud has done for Oxford University, one of the premier research universities in the world.
After saving money and consolidating resources through virtualization, the Oxford IT team created a cloud database that allows researchers to move their data from isolated servers to an online searchable database that others can access to enhance their own research.
This virtual database as a service solution has helped Oxford reduce costs while liberating their data. Researchers can now share data more widely and across traditional organizational boundaries - perhaps in read-only format for other departments within the university, other universities or even the general public.
At Oxford, virtualization set the stage for fast and expanded access to research data, but that represents just one of a myriad of examples. A police department, for example, might place greater focus on developing applications to support mobile communications or identify suspects. School administrators, on the other hand, might channel more resources to tools for responding to emergencies and communicating in real time with security officers, faculty, students and their parents.
Sometimes bold new action is required - leveraging IT to cut costs is not new, but emphasizing agile technology as a key enabler can represent a true paradigm shift for the public sector. This final phase on the journey to the cloud is really just the beginning of an evolutionary process.
IT as a service for the public sector is an evolution from brittle cost-burdened, server-centric IT operations to flexible IT operations where any workload can be provisioned, monitored and managed from anywhere in the cloud—and at the lowest possible, utility-based pricing, with cost transparency. When a cloud architecture is in place, IT in the public sector gains the opportunity to innovate and bring new value to an organization --not only providing budget relief but also tackling the innovative and critical new projects that deliver a whole new level of value to students and citizens.
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