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Streamlining Louisiana’s IT consolidation

Louisiana  began consolidating its IT services in 2014, transitioning operations across 20 agencies to a shared-service model under the Office of Technology Services (OTS).  Today, the state's enterprise architecture provides the standard for managing IT operations, governance and infrastructure needs through seven software components -- and Louisiana officials say they've saved $70 million in the process.

OTS uses an enterprise service bus (ESB) to run all state agency applications, including identity access management and document management.  All of the state’s data is housed on premise at two Baton Rouge data centers that comply with IRS, HIPAA and CJIS cybersecurity requirements.

“Through the consolidation, we had to figure out where there were duplication efforts, how to leverage larger contracts, consolidate some contracts and streamline things very quickly,” Derek Williams, director of Louisiana’s data center operations, told GCN.  “The budgets for IT expenditures still lie within the agencies themselves, so we had to develop lines of service and rates in a way that would not exhaust their budgets within six months of operations.”

Part of the consolidation effort involved identifying commonalities between the thousands of applications Louisiana agencies use.  After Williams found agencies using similar but different platforms for online payments and document uploads OTS created application programming interfaces to generate more reuse among various services across different agencies.

To keep track of which agencies were using what services, OTS used Splunk Enterprise to build a log aggregator into the ESB as part of the Louisiana’s pay-per-use model.

“Splunk came into play as the log aggregator to capture all of the logs and messages that pass through the service bus,” Williams said.  “Every time the [agency] customer uses our services, they are tagged, and each of their documents get tagged so we can see how much of each service was used.”

While Louisiana’s IT infrastructure is on premise, there is interest in connecting the state’s two data centers and agencies through cloud services.  OTS wants a single pane of glass that can seamlessly track workloads and maintain security protections such as firewalls.

The next phase of Louisiana’s IT efforts is moving applications and infrastructure components into a private cloud environment, but the path forward for OTS at the moment is to help agencies migrate into the EA framework and to develop microservices to fulfill their needs.

The consolidation has brought together over 800 employees who can now specialize in specific areas rather than having to manage all IT issues for an agency.

“You would come across people who were not experts of anything in particular, but they wore a lot of hats because they had to do all aspects of the operations,” Williams said.  “With the consolidation, we have an IT shop with over 800 people, which has allowed us to align much tighter to technologies [with] storage groups, virtual machine groups, proper project management offices and desktop support tiers.”

To date, the consolidation has slashed $70 million in costs for the 20 agencies involved.  Other smaller institutions such as public universities and community colleges can also opt-in to the OTS shared services model.

About the Author

Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for GCN, covering cloud, cybersecurity and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics.

Before joining GCN, Friedman was a reporter for Gambling Compliance, where she covered state issues related to casinos, lotteries and fantasy sports. She has also written for Communications Daily and Washington Internet Daily on state telecom and cloud computing. Friedman is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she studied journalism, politics and international communications.

Friedman can be contacted at sfriedman@gcn.com or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.

Click here for previous articles by Friedman.

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