Oklahoma puts security and efficiency at the heart of data center redesign
To protect citizen data and guard against cyber attacks, the state of Oklahoma has partnered with Dell Technologies to reinvent its data center infrastructure.
The process began last summer after government officials realized that the state’s data processes and digitized services needed updating as government employees transitioned to a telecommuting environment due to the pandemic.
“We modernized our data center strategy by upgrading our main data center here in Oklahoma City,” said Aleta Seaman, senior director of IT operations for the state. “We invested in a secondary center to create a digital backup of our current system. “
During this process, the state migrated 2.6 petabytes of data and put in place safeguards to protect that data in the event of weather and power outages. The upgrade also consolidated over 3,000 servers and 9,000 databases supporting over 100 state agencies.
“Previously, if systems were offline, it would have taken months or years to restore state data,” Seaman said. “Now the state has a recovery site that minimizes downtime and loss of data recovery for agencies and citizens. “
“One of the biggest benefits, because we now have the disaster recovery site, is being able to sleep at night knowing our data is protected and well secured in both locations,” Seaman added. “We have also seen an increase in throughput from our branches and applications, which has certainly helped the entire work environment. “
The state used some of the funds from the CARES law to fund the technology modernization project, which also posed its own challenges, Seaman said. The short six-month deadline for implementing these upgrades, combined with the strict restrictions associated with the use of CARES funding, was difficult but did not have a significant impact on overall implementation.
After the state’s data centers were upgraded, Dell and VMware trained employees to learn the new systems.
“By working together, we have created a digital approach to deliver a premier and well-designed secondary data center and services to ensure the data protection of our citizens, even in the face of cyber attacks, bad weather and power outages.” Steven Harpe, state chief operating officer and deputy secretary for digital transformation and administration, said in a statement.
Outside of Oklahoma, other states appear to be moving in the same direction, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity, said Jillian Mansolf, senior vice president and general manager of corporate, education and public sector sales. in the United States at Dell Technologies.
“There are now cyber attacks every 11 seconds,” Mansolf said. “I think there is a need for more digital and mobile services, which is prevented by the lack of tools.”
Another topic that Mansolf tackles is automation. Within state government, the ability to deliver increasingly accessible services has become a high priority for agencies and is often aided by new technologies such as machine learning or process automation.
“People need automation processes to modernize and integrate data across different departments or agencies,” she said. “I would say in general the need to transform, to be more modern and more resilient, but to still be able to offer services for every department and every agency of the state, that’s the challenge.