Virginia IT rebuild gives 'step on the gas' support for state workforce
The Commonwealth of Virginia is on the verge of completing an arduous move to setting up an enterprise IT infrastructure that its top manager says will provide for greater sharing of services among government agencies across the state.
The nearly six-year journey to consolidate the disparate IT building blocks of each agency within the executive branch has resulted in “a uniformed, standard and secure infrastructure available across the enterprise of state government,” Virginia’s CIO Sam Nixon told GCN.
The shared enterprise infrastructure is based on a private cloud environment built in partnership with Northrop Grumman. “The transformation has been a very difficult and challenging endeavor for the state,” Nixon said. However, by the middle of the summer, 86 of 89 state agencies will have completed the transformation, he noted.
The benefits of shared systems are numerous, he said, as "every desktop now is actually the same and everyone is using the same e-mail systems and client -- we are able to step on the gas to help employees be more productive.”
For example, the Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) is using customer relationship management systems based on Microsoft Dynamics to modernize multiple agencies’ business functions and improve citizen services.
The state now has a main data center near Richmond and a disaster recovery facility at the opposite end of Virginia. Just recently, VITA performed disaster recovery cut-over tests. Nixon said he thinks Virginia is just one of only two states that perform these types of tests.
VITA now supports 58,000 desktops, 3,800 servers, two large mainframes and 60,000 email accounts in 2,247 locations scattered from one end of the state to another, he noted.
Over the past few years, VITA has also started to deploy enterprise applications and services. All of the Commonwealth’s enterprise performance budgeting systems have been replaced and the state is also very close to launching an enterprise document collaboration system based on Microsoft SharePoint.
VITA just got funding to move to the next stage of replacing a 30-year old back office financial management system. An enterprise service-oriented platform is now being put in place, Nixon said, that will provide a capacity for data transfer and data sharing that has never been possible before.