Innovative data center public-private partnerships

Deltek. Sr. Analyst Kyle Ridley reports.

Wayne County is Michigan’s largest county and the 15th most populous in the country at 1.8 million residents. Like many counties in the U.S., Wayne has had its share of hard times these last few years. When the recession hit in 2008, the county’s general reserve fund dipped to a $10.6 million deficit, and plummeted to $116 million by 2010. The county’s technology department has seen a steady decline in spending from fiscal years 2008-2009 to 2010-2011.

At last month’s 76th Annual National Association of Counties (NACo) Conference and Exposition, several county officials, vendors and IT professionals united to discuss policies and issues affecting counties nationwide and collaborate on ideas for shaping a bright future despite dwindling budgets. In a session focused on survival and “innovation amidst economic turmoil,” Enterprise Computing and Infrastructure Director David Edwards highlighted Wayne County’s recent cost-reduction successes. When detailing Wayne County’s many challenges, Edwards stressed the heavy toll of its data center, which the county housed itself. Wayne County had an extremely outdated data center with aging and failing infrastructure, including a flooding problem. The county continuously delayed revamping the center due to the expensive relocation and rebuilding price tag. Edwards noted that oftentimes governments are also slow to upgrade varied and antiquated technology due to lack of IT knowledge and standardization, which leads to duplicated services and high maintenance costs.

After examining the county’s data center challenges, Edwards explored public-private partnerships in hopes of finding a solution. He said he wanted to partner with an organization with proven success in order to form a model that reduced costs and stimulated growth for the county. He also aimed to redirect efforts toward services that offered value and created efficiencies.

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