IT consolidation is starting to pay off at DOT
- By Mary Mosquera
- Jul 12, 2005
'Every time I walk around and see where servers are sitting in people's offices, I wonder if the [new] building will be big enough to house all our IT.'
'Deputy CIO Eugene 'Kim' Taylor
Henrik G. de Gyor
About 40 percent of the way into its IT consolidation, the Transportation Department is already seeing benefits.
The cost per desktop seat in the secretary's office alone has dropped to $3,500 from $5,200, as the IT shop has consolidated what had been three separate infrastructures, deputy CIO Eugene 'Kim' Taylor Jr. said.
'As we move more onto the common operating environment, those costs will go down further,' he said.
The savings offer a glimpse of what is on the horizon for the rest of the agency, Taylor said.
Transportation CIO Dan Matthews said recently that he anticipates the consolidation will cut at least $5 million in annual IT costs, freeing up that funding to support other department goals.
DOT isn't just consolidating systems, it's consolidating space'a job being driven by the department's move next year to a new, smaller headquarters building in Washington, near the proposed new baseball stadium.
'Every time I walk around the building and see where servers are sitting in people's offices, I wonder if the building will be big enough to house all our IT,' he said.
As a part of DOT's scheduled September 2006 move, agency officials must downsize its desktops, servers and network assets to physically fit into the smaller building.
In the process, the Office of the CIO is directing agencies toward a shared environment and more enterprisewide applications, away from individual and duplicative systems, Taylor said. Centralizing IT functions also will make it easier to secure systems.
Transportation's agencies, excluding the separately headquartered Federal Aviation Administration, also must consolidate assets as well as unify help desk and IT security procedures across all DOT bureaus.
The first step is for each bureau to discover its IT assets.
'We are finding that we actually don't know how many assets we have and what's on them,' Taylor said.
The next level
Then the CIO staff will look at the gaps in those assets and what they will need to expand the common operating environment. The third stage is engineering, testing and rollout.
'It's a multifaceted, wild time over here putting that all together,' Taylor said.
The department's IT service organization is establishing and operating the shared environment, which now supports about 1,500 users out of a total of 6,000 employees, the ultimate target. Those 1,500 users come from four agencies that have completed consolidation: the Office of the Secretary, St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, all of which are smaller agencies.
'We have been using a model where we partner with one of the agencies and work through our methodology with them and adjust it, and they help us go to the next agency,' he said.
The CIO staff gets smarter about consolidation each time, he said, and the partnering method encourages agencies to get involved.
'Everyone's been a little cautious. But as we've had a couple of successes here, the barriers are starting to fall down,' Taylor said.
And the sooner the better, because the IT services staff people helping with consolidation in the old building will likely be occupied next year setting up systems in the new building.
'We're pushing to figure out how to accelerate consolidation, because we're starting to see that the new building is going to demand the same IT resources we're consolidating here,' he said.
For most users, the common infrastructure will manifest itself on their desktops, which will have the Microsoft Windows XP operating system and link via Microsoft Exchange and Active Directory.
Once into the new headquarters building, Transportation will consider additional server consolidation.
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.