January 11, 2010 By Steve Towns, Editor
Michigan has formally launched an initiative to build a massive new data center that will provide cloud computing services to state agencies, cities, counties and schools across the state.
The Michigan Department of Information Technology (MDIT) -- in conjunction with the state's Department of Treasury and Department of Management and Budget -- issued a request for information (RFI) Jan. 7 seeking industry feedback on forming a public-private partnership to build and operate the facility.
"This marks another big step in our effort to establish high-tech investment in Michigan," said state CIO Ken Theis in a statement released by the MDIT. "A data center built through public-private partnership will allow all levels of government in Michigan to benefit, by getting the most of our taxpayer dollars."
The RFI seeks input from companies or teams of companies that are interested in financing, building and operating the new facility, as well as providing shared IT services to state agencies and others. The state is particularly interested in tapping alternative energy sources for the data center, according to the RFI.
"MDIT is proposing an extended contract, including an appropriate sharing of risks and responsibilities, for the new data center design, construction and maintenance with additional IT/operational services to be determined," the RFI said. "A public-private partnership is one potential delivery model for this solution."
In an earlier interview with Government Technology, Theis said the new facility -- dubbed the Great Lakes Information and Technology Center -- would cut the cost of running government by reducing the number of duplicate computer systems operated by cities, counties and state agencies. The plan envisions a 100,000-square-foot data center that would offer cloud-based application hosting and managed services to any public entity in Michigan.
In addition, the data center is being positioned as a magnet for technology-related economic development and as a potential alternative to offshore application hosting and storage for private companies. The state intends to break ground on the facility in October 2010.
All over the country, community leaders are looking to boost economic development through various initiatives. One key element in many of those initiatives is the use of information technology. When local governments build IT infrastructure, create e-government applications, assist high-tech startups or otherwise focus on technology, they create conditions that draw businesses to their communities and help retain skilled workers. This paper discusses and provides examples of these various ways local government can use technology to ultimately make a community more attractive to businesses, visitors and residents.