"We had seven full-time equivalents supporting the application, not including [database administrators] and hardware costs," says Cotnoir. "We wanted to be able to predict our costs better." Now, he says, the state can look forward to predictable costs for the next 10 years, with two hardware refreshes and two software refreshes as part of the contract with CGI. The Maine government will save $5 million over the life of the contract, and it now has just one person interacting with CGI, with the others redeployed to handle applications that were underserved.
"We're able to devote our time internally to help our agencies strengthen their own internal controls, as well as improve policy management and fiscal control statewide," says Cotnoir. "And because we're not babysitting the system ourselves, I don't get phone calls at 2 a.m. asking what to do."
Making the cloud work for the public sector
IDC's Rubel says that the most forward-thinking agencies are now taking the cloud beyond its most basic capabilities. "They can make reporting easier when cities and counties are getting funds from the state. They can simplify business processes. That's a game-changer because they can make a difference [in efficiency] over the long run," he says.
The cloud can also bring government agencies hiring and staffing flexibility. Massachusetts CIO Letchford worries about two competing trends: More new IT jobs are being created, but 40 percent of the current IT workforce will be retiring within 20 years. "I'm going to be desperate to find people to hire. I'm going to have people leaving, and it'll be hard to encourage people to work here at state salaries," he says. The answer: offload day-to-day activities to cloud service providers and attract talented IT professionals by offering them the opportunity to work on strategic, innovative initiatives.
That's what Ohio's Stu Davis wants for his IT staff. "If we could concentrate them at the top and leverage their expertise for the enterprise, that's better than having them in different agencies," he says. "It focuses IT skills on the enablement of the business of the state of Ohio." No agency needs its own infrastructure, and besides, the state doesn't have the human or financial resources to support that type of setup anymore. "There has to be a different way," Davis says. "The status quo of the siloed approach can't continue."
Silicon Valley-based freelancer Howard Baldwin writes about networking and mobile technology, among other enterprise-related issues.