Case Study

State Department of Revenue: Building a Multicloud Architecture

Multicloud architecture enables rapid rollout of digital services while optimizing legacy systems

Reshaping Infrastructure

Failing on-premise data centers were preventing a State Department of Revenue from providing other state agencies and taxpayers with innovative digital services.

Flooding, fire and power issues to its data centers had caused major outages for the Department. When servers were online, the Department struggled to deliver services in a timely manner due to siloed infrastructure and a lack of protocols and standards for sharing data. In some cases, critical data held by the Department was at risk as a result of some servers operating without a disaster recovery plan.

When 100 servers, 30 network switches and 90 applications across the State were nearing end-of-life or end-of-support, the Department gained the opportunity to change data center operations and become a state leader in infrastructure modernization and digital transformation.

The State decided the time had come to drive bare metal out of its IT footprint. In addition to the costs it was incurring by being in the data center business, it was clear that a solely on-premise approach couldn’t support the digitization of services and inter-departmental digital collaboration.

To digitally transform, the State needed a combination of on-premise, off-premise and public cloud capabilities.

Moving to The Clouds

A move to the public cloud couldn’t happen overnight. Too many of the State’s critical applications weren’t cloud-ready and hosting some of its applications in the public cloud didn’t make financial or security sense.

The State picked the Department of Revenue to figure out how to pragmatically move to the cloud.

The Department needed a consistent multicloud strategy that would allow it to put new applications into the public cloud while keeping existing applications on-premise or off-premise as they were refactored for the cloud over time.

WWT filled the role of a trusted advisor for the Department. Possessing a broad range of skills across networking, security, data and applications, we understood the Department’s operational constraints and what was needed for it to move forward on its cloud journey.

We leveraged our unique experience, knowledge and partner ecosystem to rapidly design and implement a multicloud architecture that achieved the Department’s business outcomes.

Six Steps to Success

Our six-step cloud journey playbook helped the Department implement a multicloud architecture capable of short-term wins and long-term growth.

Step 1: Select a colocated data center

The first order of business was to evaluate an on-premise versus off-premise model. It became clear that the digital services the Department wanted to deliver would require an off-premise facility with superior connectivity based on proximity to public cloud providers. We helped the Department select a colocated data center that not only was operating along the Internet highway but also had a facility 30 miles away to reconcile disaster recovery issues.

Step 2: Establish a private cloud beachhead

Next, we established a private cloud beachhead within the colocated data center. We advised the Department purchase Dell EMC VxBlocks based on its workloads.

For management, we suggested the Department implement a VMware virtualized environment to easily direct network traffic to the Department’s new off-premise environment or the public cloud. Using the WWT Advanced Technology Center (ATC), we were able to demonstrate a fully configured VMware Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC) stack that included VMware vSphere, VMware vSAN and VMware NSX virtualization technologies.

WWT staff trained on VMware NSX and the VMware vRealize suite then provided necessary configurations for a virtualized private cloud as well as cloud migration services.

Step 3: Extend networking and security

After establishing the Department’s private cloud beachhead and setting up a data center management platform, we needed to extend networking and security to the public cloud and back to the data center.

For networking, we suggested the Department use VMware NSX. Members of our professional services organization trained Department staff on NSX management, again using the capabilities of our ATC.

For security, we suggested the Department choose Palo Alto and configured security protocols for safe application delivery.

Step 4: Establish a virtual private cloud in a public cloud

We then helped the Department explore different public cloud providers. With our ATC connected to the major providers, we were able to show the Department how their workloads and management operations would look in Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

The Department selected Amazon Web Services (AWS). Our cloud solutions architects examined a well-architected review provided by AWS and made changes to the design. We then re-reviewed to finalize a design that met the Department’s operational needs and business requirements.

Step 5: Consolidate workloads to a colocated data center and virtual private cloud

In consolidating the Department’s workloads and moving the Department to a multicloud architecture, we immediately were able to put two new enterprise applications into AWS for document management and processing: Docuware and Kofax. With these applications up and running, the Department can reduce the need to store tax returns on paper and automate the filing process.

The Department’s legacy applications were migrated to its new VMware virtual private cloud running within AWS.

Step 6: Optimize public cloud costs and build digital platforms

Now we will work with the Department on the final step in our cloud journey playbook – getting the most out of the public cloud at the best price.

In the case of the Department, this means helping it move to a database as a service model.

Realizing the Benefits of a Multicloud Architecture

Equipped with modernized, resilient infrastructure and a consistent multicloud architecture, the Department is already realizing the benefits of its IT and digital transformations.

With IT no longer having to address daily issues with call center operations or major outages, staff have been able to use 10 percent of their time to call residents who haven’t filed their taxes in recent years.

The ability to proactively engage with delinquent residents has resulted in a $750 million windfall for the Department as a result of those contacted by the Department’s contact center filing overdue taxes.

Additionally, with Docuware running in AWS, the Department can stop storing paper tax returns in warehouses as the application will digitize returns moving forward while chipping away at digitizing past filings. Not only is the Department saving costs from having to store paper filings, but customers can now digitally access their returns, a reflection of the State’s IT mission of creating customer-centric, digital services for its residents.

Aside from leveraging new enterprise applications, the Department’s legacy applications are benefiting from increased uptime and can now be accessed by other agencies because they’re housed in a virtual private cloud. And, with a multicloud architecture in place, the Department can begin to refactor legacy applications securely as they gradually push them to the cloud.

Once representative of the State’s old approach to IT, the Department is now an example of how a multicloud architecture can enable innovative digital services and help the State achieve its IT vision.