The state of Wyoming plans to discontinue most of its data center operations and move its servers to colocation facilities. Outsourcing its two data centers is an interim step to eventually moving these IT systems to public cloud services. Where Wyoming goes, the rest of the states should follow.
The Wyoming state government has outsourced various parts of its infrastructure for years, but this is its hard turn toward the cloud. In 2011, Wyoming became the first state to implement Google Apps for Government statewide. By doing so, it consolidated 13 separate email systems. Today, it uses Google Docs and collaboration tools as well. Use of Gmail is now mandatory, although state agencies can decide for themselves whether to use Microsoft Office or Google productivity apps.
Many states want to do the same, given that budgetary pressures continue to grow. Even with the recovering economy and slowly healing tax base, legislators and agency exececutives will not approve more data center construction now that cloud computing appears to be a more viable and cost-effective option.
You could argue that Wyoming is a special case, given than it has fewer than 600,000 residents, but bigger states' complexity argues for keeping at least some IT resources in their own data centers. Wyoming's smaller size does mean going to the cloud should be a faster effort, but the fundamental benefits of moving to cloud are nearly the same in New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Florida, and so on. Simply put, cloud computing is a better path to provide taxpayer services and operate the business of running a state.
Despite that fact, I'm hearing more excuses about not moving to the cloud and seeing few results. Perhaps Wyoming taking the lead here will finally put an end to the foot-dragging by others. I sure hope so.
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