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Commerce CIO Szykman: IT Reform Requires Shift in Strategy, Philosophy

Commerce CIO Simon Szykman, Photo: DOC.gov

Successfully implementing changes within the Commerce Department according to the federal government’s ambitious IT reform act, requires not just a change in strategy, agency Chief Information Officer Simon Szykman said, but also a change in technology leaders’ thinking.

“Moving toward a leaner, cloud-driven and collaborative approach is a significant shift in philosophy, and we are aggressively incorporating these ideas into our strategic IT planning process,’ he wrote in a blog post on CIO.gov, marking the progress the department has made six months into the IT reform project.

“Together, these steps are helping to create a holistic framework that will improve management and oversight of our IT programs. After only six months, our list of accomplishments is impressive, but there is still much to be done to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the 25 Point Implementation Plan to Reform Federal IT Management,” he said.

Some highlights:

Data Center consolidation

  • Commerce has shuttered six data centers, so far, and plans to close at least three more by the end of the year.
  • “Consolidating data centers will significantly lower the agency’s carbon footprint, save us millions of dollars each year and allow for more effective use of resources as we streamline our infrastructure to become more efficient,” Szykman said.

Cloud computing

  • During the 2010 Census, Szykman explained how cloud computing enabled the department  to handle a “once-in-a-decade peak in demand” — over 5 million hits per week — for census information without having to add permanent capacity, all “by harnessing the power of the cloud.”

As Szykman alluded, the most significant change may be to how the department plans its IT investment.

“The changes to our three-year planning process that have been sparked by IT reforms are where the most permanent and significant impacts of this shift in philosophy will be felt,” he said. “As these reforms advance, the benefits to the efficiency and effectiveness of governmentwide operations will become widespread and long-lasting.”

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