Ohio’s massive cloud migration pays off

Ohio’s massive cloud migration pays off

When Ohio began its data center consolidation project, the State of Ohio Computing Center (SOCC) was in a four-story building where more than 30 agencies housed their own networks, servers and data centers. The building full of “agency condominiums” had limited power and inadequate security and storage, Ohio’s CIO Stu Davis said recently at the NASCIO midyear conference in Baltimore.

In 2013 the state signed a 10-year contract with IBM to upgrade the facility and consolidate the individual agency data centers into a single private cloud so the state could “put the appropriate tools in place that would allow us to monitor and manage and spin-up environments in a much more timely fashion,” Davis said.

Once facility upgrades were completed in 2014, IBM and Ohio began consolidating the data centers of agencies already in the building. They were able to put the entire state private cloud on the second floor of the building, and within the past 30 months, the Office of Information Technology migrated 22 of 26 cabinet agencies into the SOCC.

Davis said the consolidation efforts alone improved each state agency’s disaster recovery systems. Some agencies had an unorganized DR system; others didn’t have a system at all. “We patched around DR and security,” Davis said.  

The Office of Information Technology expanded its security team to include nearly 30 trained staffers who represent other state agencies. Ohio also leverages IBM’s security tools, such as its Information Management System for databases and antivirus protection through McAfee Protection Services to secure data from the servers to end-point devices.  

The third floor of the SOCC was then opened to tenants such as counties, universities and businesses looking use the data center.  Ohio State University moved to the facility, leasing space and infrastructure from the state, but still maintaining control over its platforms, architecture and security. According to Davis, this saves OSU $1 million a year in operational costs. 

For Ohio, the overall start of the consolidation and private cloud project was “5,300 servers ago,” according to Davis, who said the project has saved the state $103 million in purchases. However, OIT and IBM are still working to improve services delivery.   

In 2010, before the consolidation, Ohio was spending about 80 percent of its budget on IT operations and infrastructure and 20 percent on applications and citizen-facing programs, Davis said. “We want to flip that,” the ideal being 70 percent on applications and 30 percent on IT operations.  Right now, it’s about an even split, he said.

IBM and Ohio are also building a private cloud portal, where each agency’s authorized administrators can access the state data center to see how agency servers and applications are running, auto-provision servers and storage and facilitate testing on different projects. Ohio hopes to deploy the portal in fall of 2016.

About the Author

Amanda Ziadeh is a former reporter/producer for GCN.

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