January 3, 2013

City of Chicago Adopts Cloud Computing Strategy for City-wide Email and Applications

Reform Is a Major Step in Mayor Emanuel’s Ongoing Efforts to Modernize Chicago’s Digital Infrastructure, Making City Department Operations More Effective and Saving Taxpayer Money

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced today that the City of Chicago is adopting a cloud strategy for all employee email and desktop applications, a move that consolidates and modernizes the City’s disparate email systems, making city-wide operations more effective and secure and saving taxpayers $400,000 per year.

“This strategy is an innovative solution for the City, making our operations more effective and secure and saving taxpayer money,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We are leveraging new technologies to streamline and modernize the way we do business in order to provide the residents of Chicago with the best service at the best price, which has been a fundamental part of my approach as Mayor from the moment I took office.”

The new cloud system encompasses all email and desktop applications (such as documents and spreadsheets) for 30,000 City employees across all City departments. Previously, the City managed three separate email systems internally, providing challenges to efficiency and security. With the cloud, the City is streamlining and consolidating these three systems into one, reducing outages, improving security and ensuring that all employees who need access to email and desktop applications have them. Additionally, with this cloud strategy, the cost per employee decreases by nearly 80 percent, resulting in a savings of $400,000 per year over the course of a four-year agreement with Microsoft.

“The cloud strategy gives City employees the ability to do their jobs more effectively while saving taxpayer dollars, decreasing duplication among departments and streamlining our operations across the board,” said Brett Goldstein, the City’s Chief Information Officer and the Commissioner of the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT). “The cloud strategy is a major step towards our goal of modernizing our information technology. Ultimately, updating the City’s digital infrastructure for the 21st century sets the foundation for innovation that will continue to move us forward.”

This is a major step in the City’s overall strategy to modernize its digital infrastructure to increase transparency and foster data-driven innovation, both internally and through civic partnerships. On January 1, the City consolidated its IT operations by merging Chicago Public Libraries and non-emergency public safety IT support under DoIT, decreasing duplication across departments and allowing the City to be more effective. Additionally, as part of this overall modernization strategy, the City has also published hundreds of datasets in a machine-readable format on the City’s dataportal, implemented a new Open311 service request system that helps to reduce redundancies and allows Chicagoans to track requests online and partnered with civic developers to launch and host integrated webpages on the City’s website that fosters online engagement with Chicago residents like PlowTracker and Adopt-A-Sidewalk.

This cloud strategy represents the first of the City’s “enterprise,” or city-wide systems to migrate to the cloud. The City currently stores and manages some data in a cloud solution, such as the Chicago Department of Aviation’s data related to airline billing and building plan information as part of the Department of Buildings’ E-Plan review system. DoIT anticipates that all email and desktop application users will migrate to the cloud by the end of 2013 and will provide guidance and training to City employees throughout this process to ensure smooth implementation.


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