Real-World Cloud Computing
Standardizing and Centralizing Data Assets
Providing IT managers & commissioners visibility into software development activities across the enterprise of state government
By: Al Soucy
Jun. 27, 2014 11:00 AM
I was asked by Mr. Peter Hastings (NH DoIT Commissioner) to document the benefits and activities behind the Standardization and Centralization Initiative (SACI). This initiative concerns the standardization of the software configuration management tool, defect tracking tool and standardizing production compiles across the enterprise of state government. In addition this includes the storage of assets for disaster recovery purposes, securing and controlling state source data assets, intellectual property and mission-critical data assets across the enterprise of state government.
This article will cover how the State of NH is working to save money in efficiencies related to standardizing and centralizing state data assets. Every state wants to save money for its citizens and stakeholders but saving money in state government can be a very challenging task. The fact that every agency in state government is basically its own separate entity makes this even more difficult. Initiatives of this size and scope can be complicated to implement if agencies don't understand the value and don't feel the need to cooperate or collaborate to achieve success and understand that the savings is in their best interest. In today's economy no one wants to spend any money to achieve any savings to begin with because they don't have the money to make any capital investments.
Attempting to standardize any process, tool or initiative across the enterprise of state government is no easy task. The Standardization and Centralization Initiative (SACI) is no exception. This project standardizes the Software Configuration Management (SCM) tool across the entire enterprise of state government, secures, controls and centralizes all state source data assets, intellectual property and mission-critical assets for state government and for disaster recovery purposes, meeting the Federal COOP requirements as set forth by Homeland Security.
To introduce a directive of this magnitude speaks to the courage of Commissioner Peter Hastings for taking on such a challenging initiative across the enterprise of state government. You need a leader who can communicate effectively to the agency heads that there is value in this initiative that will ultimately lead to savings across the enterprise. The State of NH will receive many benefits from this initiative and there have been many hurdles to achieving such a huge undertaking. This initiative reflects the understanding of Commissioner Peter Hastings to address enterprise-wide level inconsistencies that cost the State of NH money and realize a cost savings instead.
This initiative establishes a centralized virtualized repository environment for all state software assets. It standardizes the Software Configuration Management (SCM) tool, Defect Tracking tool and formalizes production compiles across the enterprise. This initiative set in motion by Commissioner Peter Hastings at the State of NH is transforming state government software development activities across the enterprise of state government thereby streamlining processes and saving resources, time and money for the citizens of NH and the stakeholders of state government software development activities. I don't see any initiative like this taking place or being tackled anywhere else in the country on a state level and over the long term this will potentially save the State of NH perhaps millions of dollars.
Business Problem and Solution
Let's just say a lot of state resources, time and money can be wasted this way: lost code, overwritten code, deleted files, no source code control, restores of assets and many flavors of other types of source code control tools contained within a silo across the enterprise. This can apply really to any organization.
Commissioner Peter Hastings realized quickly once becoming Commissioner that if he standardized and centralized all of the state's assets - whether they be source data assets of application source code, intellectual property related to applications that are supported inside and outside of state government, and secured and controlled state mission-critical assets in a centralized repository - that this would save the state a lot of money.
Commissioner Peter Hastings provided a directive to implement the Standardization and Centralization Initiative (SACI) and save money on activities related to software development and transform state government with more status accounting of software development activities across the enterprise of state government. There is visibility into software development activities that did not exist before this initiative.
The direction was to place all existing physical servers housing software assets and software developers across the enterprise in a virtual environment on one server and on one standard tool across the enterprise to centralize the state source data assets, intellectual property and mission-critical assets.
There is a cost savings to the state with this initiative alone with fewer software configuration management (SCM) servers in technical support and electricity and a myriad of other savings I'll speak to later. This initiative would centralize and standardize the users, licenses, assets and support across the enterprise for software development activities.
Improvement to Government
In addition when all users are in a centralized virtual environment the cloud concept can now be applied from within the standardized Software Configuration Management (SCM) tool to reuse common functionality code across the enterprise. A common code library for common functionalities between agencies across the enterprise can be set up and code that could be shared, reused, understood can all be under the secure umbrella of SCM.
Standardizing the Software Configuration Management tool allows groups to be created that have certain levels of access all the way down to a process or a file. It's easier to allow some teams or many teams to browse this library of shared common code. It also educates other teams on how one team versus another might be developing common functionalities. It can save the state money rather than reinventing the wheel on common functionalities already written by another development team.
This initiative saves the state resources, time and money on development activities:
Many large organizations have too many varying methods, tools, and processes and this creates silos of development, which overall is counterproductive to the whole. This makes it harder to not only know what the team(s) are doing or developing in or have access to or to interchange that skill set with another development team.
When all developers are using the same tool they can easily be provided access to another project via the secure cloud of the standardized SCM tool and work any project and have a much smaller learning curve by not leaving the development environment but seeing a new project in their view in the SCM tool.
When all users/developers are on one server that contains all the licenses for the tool and the assets are centralized and the SCM tool is standardized, the state can save money in various ways on activities related to software development and transform state government with more status accounting and visibility into software development not only for state developers but contractors as well.
The following is a list of the benefits of this project to State Government: Standardization and Centralization Imitative (SACI):
Benefits of the Project:
The final result is one virtual software development server, which would include intellectual property of various types (application code - VS, PB, Java, docs, etc., or Oracle code, SQL code, Access, etc.) and mission-critical assets.
It's difficult to measure these savings in terms of real dollars today (ROI) but the savings can be measured by the streamlining of software development activities across the enterprise. The increased efficiency and quality improvements as well as a reduction of errors and or duplicative efforts are the real payback to this initiative.
My background is that I have been working in Software Configuration Management (SCM) for a few years now and I am presently, the administrator of SCM at the State of NH. SCM is a process-based Software Configuration Management (SCM) tool for managing application source code, intellectual property and mission critical assets. In this capacity I also secure these assets for disaster recovery purposes. I manage 400 plus applications housed in SCM and support 400 users using the product. The development tools we currently use are PowerBuilder PBV8, PBV11 and 12; Visual Studio 2003, 2005, 2008, 2010 and 2012; Eclipse, Juno, RAD, Mule, Cold Fusion, Java, COBOL and VB.
As the Software Configuration Manager (SCM), I provide the administration of the source code management tool. This includes the entire infrastructure of the environment for development, developing life cycles, providing best practices, procedures, processes, documentation; defect tracking, disaster recovery, maintaining build machines and the training of all the developers on proper source code management using the development tools in our development environment.
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