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State of Maine Partners with University System to Contain Costs and Improve Information Security

Sharing capacity at the University of Maine System’s state-of-the-art data center will help contain costs as
data needs and technology utilization continue to grow while improving security
and disaster 
recovery resources for mission-critical State and University data

AUGUSTA, MAINE – The University of Maine System and the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS) – through its Office of Information Technology – have approved a five-year licensing agreement that will result in a co-location of data storage and service at the University Services Information Technology Data Center on the University of Maine campus in Orono.

The partnership between the State of Maine and the University of Maine System takes advantage of existing capacity at the state-of-the-art data center in Orono that was upgraded in 2013.  The $4 million data center project is part of the work Maine’s public universities have done to consolidate, centralize, and improve technology services and data security.  The ongoing work to better serve Maine as One University also involves improving connectivity and technology-enabled collaboration among the campuses and extending access to public higher education programming into every Maine community.

In September 2013, the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management – led at the time by current DAFS Commissioner Richard Rosen – issued a report recommending University collaboration with the Maine Office of Information Technology to create efficiencies and reduce costs.  A team assembled by the Chief Information Officers of both the State and the University of Maine System identified the potential sharing of data center assets as certain State leased data center space came up for renewal.

The initial five-year license period for the co-location partnership is expected to generate $850,000 in hosting revenue for the University of Maine System and help contain costs for the State and the System as data needs and technology utilization continue to grow.  Sharing the modern data center also ensures that Maine’s state agencies and public universities have critical backup capacity, disaster recovery resources, and security in place to protect mission-critical data as well as the privacy of the students and state residents served.

“Advancements in technology and connectivity enhance government transparency, improve services, and create new opportunities for Mainers to engage in the governing process,” said Jim Smith, Chief Information Officer for the State of Maine.  “Working with our colleagues at Maine’s public universities provides the state with affordable access to a highly secure, state-of-the-art data center.  It is a common-sense collaboration that achieves savings while increasing our capacity to serve.”

“The money we have saved and the statewide capacity we have built with our One University reforms makes public higher education in Maine a stronger, more responsive, and better connected partner,” said Dick Thompson, Chief Information Officer of the University of Maine System.  “Our focused investments in technology at the data center are improving service and creating new opportunities for our faculty and students, and this important chance to partner with the state.”


Background Information — University Services: Information Technology (US:IT)

University Services is the statewide, single-entity approach to managing administrative functions and delivering support services to Maine’s seven mission-differentiated public universities.  Part of the One University Initiative, University Services largely replaces a less efficient and costly seven-campus administrative management model and includes functions such as facilities, finance and budget, human resources, information technology, risk management and general services, shared processing center, and strategic procurement.

To put it plainly, US:IT today serves the technology needs of the entire enterprise rather than the eight separate (7 universities and the recently eliminated central office) IT Departments that were in place under the old model using incompatible software and systems.

Starting in 2012 US:IT was the first functional group to go through an administrative review and single-entity alignment.  Through FY 2016 the initiative has saved more than $3 million as it achieved new statewide capacity for collaboration and connectivity.


Background Information — Maine Office of Information Technology (OIT)  

The State of Maine’s Office of Information Technology was created by executive order in January 2005, consolidating the functions, staff, and equipment from the Bureau of Information Services and all executive branch agencies into the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

OIT provides technology support and strategic leadership for 12,000 executive branch employees, 14 cabinet-level departments, and all the smaller agencies in the executive branch. It also provides network support for the judicial branch, and it supports Maine citizens through the Maine.gov web portal, public safety radio project, ConnectME broadband expansion, and other important initiatives.