IBM, California Pair to Create CalCloud

IBM and the State of California have joined together to form CalCloud, a new technology model powered by cloud computing to build and deliver government services at a cost savings. But no number has been announced on how much will be saved.

Through CalCloud, the California Department of Technology is providing next-generation tools that offer access to IT services at the pace that customers demand while minimizing upfront capital investment and controlling financial risk, according to an IBM press release.

Instead of separate IT systems for each department, the CalCloud service model allows government entities to share a common pool of computing resources and operate much more efficiently than they do today, IBM says. Immediate access to modern back-end services frees up state department to focus on projects with direct impact on the public.
California Public Radio interviewed Steve Towns, editor of Government Technology Magazine on the advantages of CalCloud. “It’s a general industry trend – in government and in private industry,” he said, adding clouds let government agencies save money, buying only as much computing power as they need at any given time. “Like buying electricity, kind of, rather than buying a bunch of hardware and software and maintaining it and making it all work,” Towns said.

“CalCloud is an important step towards providing faster and more cost effective IT services to California state departments and ultimately to the citizens of California,” said Marybel Batjer, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, said in announcing the program. More than 20 state departments have already requested IT services through CalCloud.

eWeek.com quoted a California Department of Technology newsletter from last year. It said the private cloud would be “physically located in OTech [Office of Technology Services] data centers under OTech’s control and oversight. The CalCloud will also be subject to OTech’s high security standards. Once fully implemented, ‘CalCloud’ will be operated as a multitenant, government ‘community cloud’ for State and local agencies.”

The newsletter added, according to eWeek.com, “Providing cloud services will allow OTech to accelerate our evolution as a data center and service provider. We want to be the service provider for iPad and Facebook generation consumers, who have grown up on services and applications that can be used immediately. The cloud is also an opportunity to improve, enhance and expand our technical and business skills and to provide our customers with the very best and lowest cost service possible.”

California’s move to offer shared IT services through CalCloud gives state and local government the ability to buy only the computing resources needed with the flexibility to quickly scale up or scale down resources as workloads demand.

As pointed out in an InformationWeek.com article, “The benefit for California residents, if enough of the state’s agencies use CalCloud, is they will have a single sign-on system for state and local government services. Single sign-on will authenticate users to access services that usually require individual registrations.”

CalCloud is designed to allow around the clock access to a shared pool of easily configurable resources including compute, storage, network and disaster recovery services. CalCloud meets stringent security standards based on National Institute of Standards (NIST) for cloud based services and FedRAMP that, InformationWeek.com points out, “provides standards for security assessment, authorization, and monitoring for cloud services for the federal government.”

As part of this public-private partnership, IBM is supplying and managing the infrastructure, while the California Department of Technology will manage all other aspects of the service offering. Additionally, IBM will work closely with the state to transfer essential knowledge and best practices in security and systems integration to the Department of Technology.

“Transforming how the State of California delivers technology services is not only more efficient and cost effective, it will spur innovation with cloud capabilities that are open and secure,” said Erich Clementi, Senior Vice President, IBM Global Technology Services in the release. “California is setting an example for other states on how to use cloud technology to improve coordination across agencies and municipalities while reducing the barriers and duplication that can impede the delivery of government services.”

In addition to IBM, CalCloud partners include AT&T, which will provide network services for the core and edge networks, and IT consulting firms Alexan International, Inc., and KPMG, LLC to drive CalCloud’s adoption rate and migration to the new service.

Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping, About.com, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.