Alaska approaches final stretch of cloud migration

Alaska Chief Information Officer Bill Smith said at a technology conference Monday that the state’s cloud migration project is entering its final stretch.

The migration to the cloud, which Smith said in January was entering its second and final phase, saw the state move more than 700 applications into the cloud from physical data centers — and it did so without any interruptions to its services.

He said that so far, the state has assessed all technical assets in its inventory and that many services have been migrated to hybrid environments. He said some assets still need work before getting into the cloud and others will stay on-premise for the foreseeable future.

“I’d like to say there’s a there’s a secret sauce to it,” Smith told StateScoop in an interview during the National Association of State Chief Information Officers midyear conference in National Harbor, Maryland. “But really, it was just a lot of hard work from some really dedicated folks to do that assessment, look at the latency requirements of all of these platforms, and make some decisions about what was appropriate to move at this time, what was appropriate to continue to work on, and then what really by design needed to stay on-premise.”

Smith said he’s most excited that the project’s been completed on schedule, under budget and that Alaskans haven’t experienced an interruption to their services as a result of the move.

“Really, the the cloud migration is the first step in continuing to evolve our footprint, and to continue to take advantage of technology,” Smith said. “Now that we’ve got a large percentage of our resources in the cloud, now we start to move just into a more steady-state modernization effort, which will allow us to take full advantage of all of the other cloud native aspects that maybe we don’t necessarily have access to today.”

Smith said the state’s cloud migration has also allowed Alaska to prepare to integrate new artificial intelligence tools. He said completing the state’s cloud infrastructure will allow agencies to take advantage of open AI tools already available through the state’s vendor contracts.

“I’m really excited about our ability to responsibly move forward quickly as we start that AI journey,” Smith said. “While we’re doing that, we’re building all of the bigger, larger scale governances for the more complex use cases. I think we’re going to be in a good position to increase our maturity very quickly, and provide good, responsible AI tools pretty rapidly to our citizenry.”