Improvement Sought Without Losing Headcount

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2009-03-05 Print this article Print

Improvement Sought Without Losing Headcount

Takai said she and the state want to do all this with a minimum of job loss.

"There are a lot of ways we feel we can gain efficiencies that don't necessarily mean a reduction in personnel," Takai told eWEEK in an interview at the CeBIT 2009 conference here in Hannover.

Takai, Schwarzenegger and 50 Silicon Valley companies were feted as special guests at the conference by Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German government. A group of California IT journalists, including yours truly, were also in attendance at several of the official diplomatic events, which featured California Mexican food with local German fare.

"Clearly, our infrastructure today is very much decentralized," Takai said. "Culturally, that's been the pattern in state governments. Each individual department and organization has had their own IT. As you can imagine, just [doing] things like standardization, commonization, not having everyone build their own data centers-much less looking at some of the newer technologies like server virtualization-[will make a big difference].

"There are significant savings to be achieved without having to do a headcount reduction."

However, Takai said she doesn't expect her department to "plow all of our savings back into IT. We'd like to do some of that, but it's really across the board from the state government standpoint-being able to utilize these resources properly."

Where Do You Start Such a Project?

Where do you begin retooling such a monstrous IT project?

"Well, we started with an overall assessment, as you might imagine," Takai said. "We found we have about 400,000 square feet of data center space; about a third of that is not in the secure facilities that we'd like for it to be; about a third is OK but not ideal; and about one-third is in what you'd call Tier 3 facilities.

"We have around 9,500 servers, as best we can tell, and about 100 versions of e-mail systems, just to give you a dimension of what we're dealing with. Generally, it's three large e-mail providers, but we have a few cats and dogs nobody's ever heard of," Takai said with a smile.

Takai's office is establishing platforms and the standards so that "when we go to replace [infrastructure] in our normal cycles, we'll be able to take the savings," she said.

In a budget downturn, that's really the best you can do, Takai said. "What it means is that you don't get the savings as quickly, but it also means that you don't have the upfront investment to get to the standardization."

The state's $3 billion IT budget may not seem like much when compared with the hundreds of billions of dollars the state budget amounts to each year, Takai said.

"I tell my guys it's still a lot of money," she said. "Even in an economic downturn, you can do a lot. That doesn't even count some expected dollars from the federal stimulus package."

California will get a certain amount from the Obama administration's program, but the numbers aren't yet determined.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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