How Nebraska kickstarted consolidation with the network

For Nebraska Chief Information Officer Ed Toner, successful consolidation has been the key to driving modernization across state IT enterprise.

“Our top priorities really all revolve around modernization, revolve around reducing costs and make technology more available to our citizens,” Toner told StateScoop in a video interview at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers’ annual conference this month in Orlando.

Toner said the state’s two largest technology initiatives center, though, around consolidation — which will streamline the way states do business and save money. Nebraska has taken a three-step approach to consolidation, he said, from the network, to the data center, and to desktop support.

The first step — the network IT resources consolidation — is complete, Toner said. Next, the state will focus on completing its data center consolidation , that began earlier this year.

One-third of that data center effort is complete, Toner said, and as of September 19, all of the state’s server administrators began reporting in through the CIO’s office, a big shift for their workflow.

Toner said his team will complete their data center consolidation and then begin finishing consolidation of desktop support next year.

“The network consolidation went so well, and we’re making such great progress,” Toner said.

Nebraska has taken an interesting approach to consolidation, Toner said. Instead of just mandating every application, environment and service be consolidated into the CIOs office, leadership is instead focusing on the infrastructure, and allowing apps and services to follow naturally.

For example, if a particular agency has an application that is specific to their work, Toner’s office will leave intact the team that supports that application, but pull the network and IT infrastructure that supports that application into the breadth of the CIO’s office.

“I didn’t want to take that knowledge away from those agencies,” Toner said. “So why don’t [agencies] keep that? I’ll manage your infrastructure. You shouldn’t really care what it rides on. The network, the servers, all the infrastructure, you shouldn’t really worry about. That should be agnostic.”