Amid cloud upgrades, state CIOs remind everyone not to forget about the network

Despite being crucial, the network is rarely discussed, Texas deputy CIO John Hoffman said during a recent event.
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The networking part of implementing cloud computing is hardly talked about despite having an immense impact on the success of modernization efforts.

During the IT Modernization Summit hosted by StateScoop and Edscoop this week, three state chief information officers said states’ complex networks can have a huge influence how they modernize services. Each state has different network and cloud needs, but all require a network that makes it easier to harness technology to improve government interaction, the officials said.

John Hoffman, deputy CIO for Texas, said that the network is rarely spoken about and that it’s important for officials to understand how each cloud provider manages networking and connectivity.

“That is something that we have taken a lot of effort in the last year to really ensure that we’ve got a little more robust architecture, as well as driven capacity and the ability to fluctuate that as we need it,” Hoffman said during the summit. 


Nebraska CIO Ed Toner said that the network was a big topic for Nebraska because the state has direct connections to its cloud providers because it did not want to use the public internet or its existing network.

“Our theory there is, if we do end up running into a capacity issue with one of our applications, it’s going to be limited and isolated to that application and that provider versus our entire network,” Toner said. “So that was a very big consideration before we ever started into the cloud was direct connects, and that really works great.”

Arizona CIO J.R. Sloan said that because networking is foundational, it’s normally left out of conversations around modernization efforts.

“Man, if you don’t have it you are suffering,” Sloan said. “Or you’re paying a heck of a lot more than you should. Fortunately, we had some forward-looking folks understanding that everything rides on the network.”

When Arizona originally moved to the cloud, Sloan said, the state did some data center consolidation that has allowed direct connections to all of its major cloud providers. 


“Being able to go through and optimize those things really yielded some great cost savings and then better efficiencies,” Sloan said, “which I think is a great enabler for doing well.”

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