Florida tech leader says success requires unity and collaboration

Communication, collaboration, and commoditization are three favorite words of one of Florida’s leading C-level executives.

In a video interview, Eric Larson, chief operations officer and chief technology officer at the Florida Agency for State Technology (AST) revealed the thought process behind development of the state’s enterprise architecture and what it took to move a data center in just a few months.

Having a network that was generally prepared and ready for virtualization went a long way in helping the state meet its deadline and to succeed generally, Larson told StateScoop at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference in September.

“Interestingly enough, it actually accelerated a lot of our initiatives, including virtualization,” Larson said. “It’s amazing how cooperative people become when they realize it’s either virtualized or your equipment comes over on a truck.”

Moving the data center was the agency’s biggest challenge during the last year, he said, but AST proved it had the tools to come out ahead.

“Overcoming [that challenge] really came down to communication and collaboration,” Larson said. “We couldn’t have done the data center move without the full participation of the agencies and it really illustrates how much can be done when everyone’s looking the same direction down the same road and everyone knows what’s going on. That actually really has driven our success.”

As state IT looks forward, Larson named interoperability — as it pertains to everything from data to legacy authentication — as a chief concern.

“There’s a lot of value in moving down the road where the data can be joined together and you can gain insights from it,” Larson said. “… Lowering costs really comes with commoditization. Anytime we can leverage a solution where a million people are using it, then we get the benefit of that economy of scale. Historically, Florida has been big enough to drive our own, but now that we’ve got to a broader market where there’s consumable services, our big push is to make sure that we can use as many of the commoditized services that are available and drive costs down that way.”