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State of California Becomes a Cloud Service Provider

By Ryan Beaty, Infrastructure Practice Manager, Zumasys (@rnbeaty)

A Model for Cloud Services in Government

Saying that the State of California has a shared services infrastructure is like saying that the ocean is wet. It’s 100% true, but it’s also a huge understatement. In just one year, the State of California Natural Resources Agency went from barely managing a fragmented infrastructure to practically becoming an enterprise cloud service provider. And I should know – I work for one.

As I read NetApp’s recent State of California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) Story, I looked at the technical details of the environment and thought, “Wow, that looks a lot like what we’re running in our public cloud platform at Zumasys.” In fact, it’s nearly identical: FAS6000 storage systems, the clustered Data ONTAP operating system, MultiStore software, SnapMirror technology, OnCommand software, Cisco Nexus switches, and VMware vSphere and vCloud Director. The works.

For me, this is the most amazing thing about this story. The CNRA basically took the cloud service provider formula and used it for itself, taking private sector innovation and harnessing it for the public sector.

The CNRA uses enterprise technologies to share resources between what could be considered small companies in its organization. And the state is getting all the efficiencies, reliability, and scalability that a public cloud service provider needs to stay competitive and turn a profit – but in a private, government environment. California is doing it not to turn a profit, but to save taxpayer dollars.

It’s the first government implementation of its kind in California, and there probably aren’t many like it in the country. But other governments should take note because, as this story shows, California is getting some amazing results.

Better resource utilization

The CNRA took 29 departments that were doing their own things and brought them into a shared pool of resources. Like a public cloud provider, the state is taking advantage of massive economies of scale to eliminate the risks of over- or underprovisioning 29 times over. Each department gets just the resources it needs when it needs them.

Faster time to fulfill service requests

The CNRA improved service levels by 70%. Departments no longer have to buy and install their own hardware or software. They can have access to IT resources within hours or minutes. From a business standpoint, this is probably the biggest benefit. What could your business achieve if IT were 70% faster?

Lower capex and opex

By eliminating redundant equipment, the CNRA cut capex by 42%. And now that it doesn’t have to maintain 29 different data centers, it lowered opex by 35% – freeing its IT admins to engage in new projects that add more value to their organizations.

Seamless scalability

The CNRA runs clustered Data ONTAP, providing seamless scalability, which is critical for any cloud provider. As a cloud provider, you can’t afford downtime – planned or unplanned. With clustered Data ONTAP, the IT organization can add new storage nodes without any disruption to users.

Trickle-Down Innovation

Cloud service providers have been building infrastructures like this for years in partnership with innovative companies such as NetApp, VMware, and Cisco. And now the technologies that these companies developed for hosting providers over the last decade are finally making their way down to the consumer level, giving customers the ultimate freedom of choice. To take advantage of the efficiency, flexibility, and scalability of the cloud, you can now either build it yourself or buy it from a cloud service provider.

The takeaway here is simple: All businesses, whether public or private, should look at some form of cloud computing. If you’ve got a data center full of physical machines, you’re doing it wrong. The CNRA is a model not just for other government organizations, but for all enterprises looking at what the cloud can do for them.

Explore the State of California Natural Resources Agency Story: