IBM and California team up to put state's data in the cloud

The state announced Thursday a new "public-private partnership" with IBM to improve government efficiency using cloud computing servers. 

Toby Talbot/AP/File
An IBM logo is displayed in Berlin, Vt.

California may be known for year-long sunny weather, but things are looking a little cloudy on its horizon.

The home state for Hollywood and Silicon Valley announced CalCloud Thursday, a new initiative that pools together the information technology systems for 400 different state and local government agencies using cloud computing. Partnering with IBM, this initiative will place government data, including official information on the state's citizens, on cloud-based servers that are exclusive to California. 

This is the first example of a state putting its government data in the cloud. And IBM will be managing CalCloud's computing infrastructure at Rancho Cordova and Vacaville, Calif., in what's being called a "public-private partnership" between the state and the corporation. 

"We're a leading provider of cloud services," says Virginia Williams, IBM senior project executive for California, in a promotional video. "We wrote the book on it."  

The $400 million partnership with IBM will be fully implemented over the course of five years, according to USA Today. The service, available to all state and local government agencies on a subscription basis, has already received requests from more than 20 state departments for IT services through CalCloud. 

CalCloud representatives say the project will help the state save money and speed up the way government operates. 

"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 for IBM Global Technology Services, in a press 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."

IBM says cost-effectiveness was key in developing this technology. Principally, the concept of "sharing resources" between government agencies, says Neeraj Chauhan, CalCloud project director, in a promotional video

"As our customers share resources, we become more efficient in delivering services and being able to reduce the cost of delivering those services," he says.  

According to Ron Hughes, head of California's Department of Technology, the state drew inspiration from the White House's 2011 Cloud First policy. That policy saw federal government agencies migrate to the cloud with the aim of saving costs and improving efficiency. 

IBM has also been in the news recently for its announced partnership with Apple that will target corporations with a series of mobile-based applications tailor-made to assist users in the business environment, a partnership some have argued stemmed from Apple's lagging iPad sales in its third fiscal quarter, which saw a decline from where they stood one year prior. 

Other than IBM, CalCloud partners include AT&T to provide network services, and the information technology consulting firms Alexan International and KPMG. CalCloud works with multiple operating systems, including Windows, Linux, and IBM's AIX.

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