At USAID, the 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management is already having a large impact in how our employees interact and collaborate around the globe. As an agency that operates extensively across time zones, the USAID CIO office is constantly evaluating innovative products and processes that will streamline our IT infrastructure in order to offer the most cost-effective method for providing business services. One of the underlying themes of the CIO Office Strategic Plan is applying and harnessing the principles and benefits of both private and public cloud computing to drive down the cost of IT services, while ensuring our infrastructure is flexible, scalable, and device-agnostic to meet the needs of our distributed workforce. As we approach the six-month mark in the Federal IT Reform process, I wanted to highlight some of our recent accomplishments that directly support this important undertaking.
My team has seen success in data center consolidation, most noticeably through our TECHHUB data center closure. While analyzing our current data center assets and business model, we were able to pinpoint areas to reduce operating costs significantly. Likewise, around the “Cloud First” initiative, our email infrastructure is already in the pilot stage of our cloud-based strategy, the outcome of which will play a determining role in our future IT service provision. USAID currently hosts our email infrastructure internally through roughly 115 desktop email servers and 40 mobile email servers worldwide. By moving to a cloud-based solution, USAID will eliminate physical assets and reduce operating expenditures (technical support, equipment upgrades, and recurring operational costs), and expects to realize cost savings of nearly $20 million over the next five years.
Another dimension of our cloud-based strategy, unifying communications, has already changed the way USAID operates. A video-enabled cloud solution aimed at reducing costs provides our global network of over 8,000 employees with on-demand access to HD video-conferencing, file sharing, messaging, and whiteboard services, allowing our staff and agency partners to focus on delivering USAID mission objectives. This service, called AIDConnect, logged over 1,400 hours of use in the month of March 2011, a 20% increase over the previous month—a trend we expect to continue as the technology is adopted throughout the agency.
As part of our strategic reorganization, the CIO Office’s Enterprise Program Management Office and Process and Quality Management Branch have adopted the TechStat model into our agency processes. Incorporating TechStat into our overall governance is proving be an effective tool for increasing transparency of investment performance. For example, we conducted a TechStat review of our Enterprise Disaster Recovery investment in March 2011, which enabled us to highlight performance challenges and take corrective actions such as establishing weekly program oversight meetings that are used to communicate progress, opportunities, and challenges to stakeholders, including the Enterprise Architecture team and agency executive management.
I am excited about the changes here at USAID, and look forward to sharing more stories about our successes, and inevitably our challenges, as we move forward in the IT reform process.
Jerry Horton is the Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development.