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Show-me state shows how to consolidate storage

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The Missouri state government embarked on a major storage consolidation project that included numerous technical and political hurdles.

When matt blunt ran for the Missouri governorship in 2004, he made IT consolidation a major piece of his platform for saving money. Dan Ross, a career Missouri bureaucrat, saw candidate Blunt make that promise on the news and turned to his wife, remarking: "What a monster of a task for some poor fool!"

A few weeks after Blunt became governor, he called Ross and offered him the consolidated CIO job. "At first I thought he had misspoken and meant to offer me another job," recalls Ross, who had no serious IT experience. "I wasn't even what you would call a 'power user,'" he adds. It didn't matter, the governor told him; the CIO job needed someone with Ross' top administrative skills. He took the job.

The monster job consisted of consolidating the IT operations of 16 state cabinet agencies--each with independent IT budgets, staffs and decision making--into the state's central mainframe data center, which was wrapping up a mainframe consolidation effort. At the time, Ross calculated his consolidated IT budget would be $205 million in 2005 once he painstakingly pulled "well-camouflaged money into a visible pile," he says.

Today, the consolidated

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IT budget stands at $218 million. It should be closer to $250 million, but legislators have repeatedly dipped into the budget to redirect anticipated consolidation-related savings to other projects. "That's just too much money not to attract legislator interest," says Ross, who spends much of his time riding herd on this aggregated budget drawn from 121 separate funding sources and 161 appropriations, many of which are earmarked for specific programs--in short, an accounting nightmare.

The actual technical consolidation fell to the central data center staff. Howard Carter, the data center director, had a mixed reaction when he heard then-candidate Blunt's promise of big savings from IT consolidation. "I thought it could be good for state government, but I knew it would be a big increase in our workload," he says.

This was first published in November 2008

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