Transportation consolidates assets
- By Mary Mosquera
- Aug 20, 2003
Kim Taylor says Transportation hopes a smaller IT infrastructure will also be a more secure one.
Henrik G. de Gyor
The Bush administration has required government agencies to streamline their operations, but there's nothing like having to fit into less square footage to speed efficiencies along.
Like several other federal bodies, the Transportation Department is planning a move to smaller offices. And like others, the department is scaling down and consolidating its assets'especially IT'to make the move easier, said Eugene 'Kim' Taylor Jr., Transportation's deputy CIO.
Transportation units, except for the Federal Aviation Administration, will consolidate their IT environments over the next 18 months, including desktop, help desk and e-mail services; security; and servers and networks.
Currently, each of Transportation's 11 agencies has its own IT infrastructure. The move to a new building, slated for 2006, will accelerate the efforts to centralize the IT infrastructure, Taylor said.
For example, about 500 servers are spread among the agencies. 'We know they're not being used to their maximum capabilities,' Taylor said. As the department consolidates servers, it will be able to reduce the numbers or use the servers to make more applications available.
A single infrastructure will save money and boost security across the department, he said. A centralized help desk can push patches to the outer reaches of Transportation. 'Doing it one time with discipline improves security immensely,' Taylor said.
And centralized services will strengthen the monitoring of intrusions and unusual trends, he said.
The department is taking inventory of its IT assets and deciding what to bring to the single infrastructure. 'Our sense is that there will be some fairly good cost savings down the road,' he said. 'If you're paying for 12 different things, and you centralize it so you do it one time, you can save money.'Space-saving IT
The consolidation also presents opportunities to improve operations, such as testing procedures and building templates. Besides IT consolidation, Taylor is looking into automating records management and document flow to minimize the amount of storage the department needs. 'By doing some things in the IT arena, we can reduce the impact of a smaller space,' he said.
The Office of the Secretary is piloting a small consolidation that should be completed next month. The office in December set up a transportation services center with its own IT infrastructure.
The service center is migrating from Novell NetWare to Microsoft Windows XP, which the secretary's office uses. How the office conducts the move will serve as an example for the bigger project, Taylor said, as other DOT agencies will also change network operating systems.
Taylor said the department has learned some best practices from its pilot:
- Spend a lot of time talking with managers and users before new systems go online. 'You can't walk up to the new desktops and be expected to understand right away what to do. You should understand what is expected that is different,' he said.
- Give users the training they need. 'Training should be scripted to minimize the surprise and culture change.'
- Start early to build user confidence.
- Establish agreements that detail the performance requirements expected of an agency and what it will receive from the centralized infrastructure. 'People are concerned they are going to lose some level of service,' he said. 'Our intent is that we will be able to improve service and security.'
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.