Company born from challenges facing Texas

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As the chief technology officer for the Texas Health and Human Services Agency, Mohammed Farooq got a first-hand look at one of the nation’s most challenging information technology systems during his seven years in state government.

What he saw was a massive system that rivaled those of Fortune 500 companies, but one that was incredibly decentralized and lacked the efficiencies of scale found in others of its size.

With a private sector background as an executive at CommerceOne and at a joint venture with SAP, Farooq went to work putting together a unique cloud services brokerage system that would allow the state to get the most benefit out of the cloud services that it purchased as part of its estimated $6 billion annual budget.

“What I proposed was finding ways to leverage the efficiencies, especially with cloud computing, where other state agencies could then buy off that contract,” Farooq said in an interview with StateScoop. “It would give us a more consolidated data center capability and provide a shared IT services model that would help the state run more efficiently.”

To help solve the state’s problems, Farooq developed a cloud brokerage portal for the state to plan, procure and manage its information technology services sourced from multiple cloud providers, namely allowing Texas to simulate cross provider solutions and estimate costs prior to deployment.

Farooq took that idea to the private sector with his company Gravitant, where he launched its cloudMatrix software platform in 2010 after leaving state government. His cloud services brokerage strategy does more than just automate the management of multiple clouds, but aims to address the ability to easily consume cloud services, normalizing and abstracting out the differences amongst the clouds: pricing, features, billing, and management (APIs).

Texas has been using the platform since September 2011, hosting a wide range of applications such as the state’s online voting registration and information portal as part of a highly successful pilot program. The state plans to make the cloud services brokerage model available to the rest of its agencies.

“The state realized great benefits and lessons learned from its use of our cloud services brokerage platform that we believe are broadly applicable,” Farooq said. “We are taking this to other states, the federal government and the commercial markets to help organizations get most out of their adoption of cloud computing.”

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Gravitant, Muhammad Farooq, States, Texas
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