Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Cincinnati Takes to the Clouds

In an effort to save money, the City of Cincinnati is looking at changing it's computer systems. They are looking at virtualization & cloud computing.
Taking this route is supposed to result in 30% - 40% savings over all. It reduces the costs of individual licenses & maintenance for every computer & consolidates server operations. Just going open source would solve the licensing but there would still be the high maintenance costs for the massive number of computers & systems involved. It also slows things down a bit for the user (the graphics guys will likely want to up their blood pressure meds).
This all seems ok but security is kind of an issue. This article at govtech outlines basic concerns & points out that when you finally get your security up to snuff, it starts eating away at your savings significantly. Also, and this is a much greater concern to me, is that the city is planning on turning over the central data storage to a private company. Two companies the city is looking at are Google & Micro$oft.
Google, Micro$oft & IBM have been working with municipalities in New York, California & Michigan (not without some hiccups). A major sticking point here is that any provider demands indemnity from the city & Ohio state law forbids that. With good reason, I think. The provider would be privy to sensitive info regarding tax, police, court & health records of citizens. Carlsbad, CA required background checks of Micro$oft employees who would be working with their systems. Everything checked out ok but in today's world a Micro$oft or Google could be taken over by a Chinese or Indian company any day. Cincinnati has been around for over 200 years & will likely be around for another 200 in one way or another. While IBM will be turning 100 next year Google's only 28 & Micro$oft is only 35. What happens if they start charging us double or a Chinese Google starts filtering information?
I think a better solution might be to consolidate systems in Columbus & have municipalities use a central statewide system. The consolidation & statewide standardization could probably find all sorts of efficiencies especially in law enforcement.

1 comment:

COAST said...

What a great idea!
A Columbus computing cloud.
Now thats a 3C even we can support.