12 Jun State alters schedule for server consolidation
Madison, Wis. – In what many in state government consider a bow to reality, the state has adjusted the schedule for the consolidation of computer servers in state government, but the impact on promised savings is unknown at this point, according to State CIO Matt Miszewski.
The revised timetable calls for the state to complete server consolidation in two large agencies, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Natural Resources, by the end of this calendar year. The remaining schedule would be influenced by the experience with the Departments of Corrections and Natural Resources.
In May of 2004, the state had planned to have the consolidation completed in all executive branch agencies in a two-year time frame, and that was later amended to July of 2007. The original plan was to consolidate approximately 2,400 servers into 1,900, and the original savings projection, outlined by Gov. Jim Doyle as part of his Accountability, Consolidation, and Efficiency (ACE) Initiative, was $3.7 million over the first two years of the project. Almost $9 million a year was to be saved once the project was fully implemented.
Miszewski acknowledged that some savings would be delayed but noted that as the project progressed, the eventual number of end-state servers got lower and lower, and now is pegged at 1,300. “As time goes on, that number will continue to get lower and lower,” he predicted.
As for the projected savings, Miszewski said a lower number of servers would help, but he acknowledged that the schedule change is not insignificant in scope. “The assumptions on those [original projections] are not the same,”’ he said. “I don’t know how much the savings will change.”
Information technology personnel in state agencies have been urging a more realistic timetable for what is officially known as the Statewide Enterprise Server Consolidation. According to Miszewski, the schedule was changed after the Business Steering Team, a multi-agency group established to consult with the Division of Enterprise Technology, expressed concern about the speed and the calendar of the project.
Miszewski said they also expressed reservations about the negotiating stance the state found itself in with the Crowe Chizek Co., LLC, the Chicago-based consulting and accounting firm that had been advising DET on the server consolidation project. At the time it contracted with the state in April of 2004, Crowe Chizek was the eighth largest accounting and consulting firm in the United States, and it had worked on large-scale enterprise upgrades in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.
The state and Crowe Chizek have been discussing a possible extension of its original contract, which has expired. “The IT people, as well as my staff, expressed concern that we were in negotiations with Crowe, and that added to the risk of the project, Miszewski said.
Minutes from a 2004 Technology Leadership Council meeting indicate that despite Miszewski’s confidence in Crowe Chizek, the company got off to a slow start. On May 26 of that year, members of the council were told that the general impression of Crowe Chizek among state employees represented at a prior Deskop Domain Subcommittee meeting was that “they [Crowe Chizek] are disorganized.”
Asked about the apparent unhappiness with Crowe Chizek, Miszewski downplayed any disenchantment. “Whenever you’re in negotiations with any partner,” he reiterated, “the risk level is raised on the project.”
The state’s contract with Crowe Chizek was not a time-and-materials contract, and was based on meeting milestones, Miszewski said. The minutes of a March 11, 2004 meeting of the Business Leadership Council for Information Technology indicate that DOA was planning to bring in approximately 25 Crow Chizek staff members, but Miszewski said the number of people working on the project changed as time went on. He said an average of eight to 10 Crowe Chizek employees were here at any given time, and now only one company employee remains in Madison to work on the project.
As IT projects go, the server consolidation is immense. All cabinet level agencies are to be part of consolidation – 24 in all. Only the Department of Justice, the Office of the State Public Defender, and the State Legislature are not part of the server consolidation.
According to a November 2004 survey conducted by Crowe Chizek, there were 35,000 computer-using employees, not counting the UW System, in state government. A total of 2,430 computer servers supported these employees, and 1,184 full- and part-time employees were performing IT-related functions.
The consultant’s own cost-benefit analysis estimated that the state would have a net benefit of $13.2 million from consolidation over a five-year period, and that 80 to 90 percent of the savings would be generated though a reduction in personnel required to manage servers and IT networks. Additional savings were to result from fewer servers being purchased and maintained, and from a reduced reliance on contractors.
Thus far, the state has allocated tens of millions of dollars to the server consolidation project, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. In a June 2005 paper, the bureau reported that the Governor was to provide $19.9 million and 58 positions in 2005-06 and $17.9 million and 47.5 positions in 2006-07 to consolidate the state IT server and network support services from 24 state agencies.
Within the Department of Administration, the Governor was to reallocate $71,900 in 2005-06 and $340,000 in 2006-07 in material and services to state agencies. In addition, another $37,800 in general purpose revenue was to be reallocated, and a part-time staff position was to be eliminated in 2006-07 under the DOA’s general program operations appropriation.
In the 24 state agencies, just over $10 million was to be reallocated and 110 positions were to be eliminated in 2006-07 in association with server consolidation.
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