California's New CIO Ready to Bring State IT into the 21st Century

Teri Takai has taken a year to evaluate the state of the state's IT structure. She is now starting to make decisions on a long-term direction for a jurisdiction of 10,000 IT staff workers, 130 divisional CIOs and 38 million citizens -- one that represents, in fact, the world's eighth-largest economy.

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HANNOVER, Germany -- California CIO Teri Takai might as well be running the IT operation for an entire country.

After being named to her position in January 2008 by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Takai has taken a year to evaluate the state of the state's IT structure. She is now starting to make decisions on a long-term direction for a jurisdiction of 10,000 IT staff workers, 130 divisional CIOs and 38 million citizens-one that represents, in fact, the world's eighth-largest economy.
If you are an IT vendor dealing in virtually any kind of data center-related product or services, you might want to consider giving Takai's office a call in Sacramento. California has a lot of overhauling to do, and it will need good companies to help it do the job. It will spend about $3 billion a year for the next five to 10 years in this sector.
The state does its massive amount of work using technology that is now a generation old. The work-everything from processing driver's licenses to coordinating law enforcement records to paying unemployment checks-has been getting completed day in and day out, but now it is time for a badly needed refreshment.
For example, the human resources division is still using a COBOL-based data system from about 1975, when the state population was half what it is today.
Due to the recession, unemployment insurance claims are way up, and the ancient IT system that processes those claims is barely able to keep up with the workload.
The total number of data centers located around the state will be reduced as the infrastructure becomes consolidated, using new virtualization and storage deduplication software. New servers that perform heavier workloads and use less power will eventually be coming online.
Better data center management tools will need to be put into place. That also will mean new software to manage and control the faster, more secure networks. Unified communications will be coming online. Upgraded security is in the plan.
We're talking about a massive changeover during the next five years to 10 years. Takai is expecting the first $1.5 billion in state funding for the job to be available soon. It is awaiting committee and legislative approval, but Takai didn't appear concerned about it, despite the state's-and the world's-current economic woes.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in large part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 12 years and more than 3,900 stories at eWEEK, he has...