State upgrades e-mail while saving money
August 22, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Corporate CEOs reach
their employees at the touch of a button. E-mail creates access
and opportunity for two-way instant communication. In an emergency,
CEOs get the message out and hear feedback as well.
That's not always true
in state government. Government e-mail systems are a cluttered
patchwork of old and new computers with different software and
e-mail systems. Scheduling a meeting electronically can be a challenge.
Thanks to a new deal
with Microsoft, and some enterprising efforts by Gov. Blagojevich's
IT team, Blagojevich and 55,000 state employees under his authority
will soon have better access.
In the process, the
state will save $6 million annually on software licenses and updates.
Savings will also be available to municipalities that will share
in the state's bargaining power under a new Enterprise Agreement
signed with Microsoft.
will be phased out over the next year. It will be replaced with
"When the governor
came into office, electronic communication was not easy,"
says Jay Carlson, deputy director of the bureau of communications
and computer services and the leader of the improvement program.
"There were 46 different e-mail address books."
Adds Brian Chapman,
chief operating officer of the Illinois Department of Central
Management Services: "A taxpayer had no way of finding anybody.
Maybe that was by design, but it wasn't a good design. You couldn't
even guess at someone's e-mail address. Different computer address
books made it impossible to find people."
More importantly the
state's buying power was not leveraged.
"A small municipality
could never get the discounts," says Chapman. "Now they
can benefit from the deal we've negotiated."
Plans are also under
way to rationalize purchase of desktop computers. A technology
road map is in place to standardize the communications infrastructure.
lands $8 million
Corp. today announces Series A funding totaling $8 million. Backers
include three local VC's: Arch Venture Partners, New World Ventures,
and OCA Ventures. Denver-based Appian Ventures also participates.
Funds will be used
to support Univa's market launch of its open source grid computing
infrastructure software. Univa's products help corporate computer
executives use state-of-the-art grid computing to make data center
management more efficient.
represents the industry's foremost grid authorities," says
New World Ventures partner J. B. Pritzker. Pritzker sees Univa
as poised for growth in the Grid computing space.
Univa CEO Steve Tuecke,
38, is bullish on Chicago's prospects as a home to Grid computing
startups. "Chicago is a cluster for grid activity with the
seeds for the software planted long ago at Argonne and U. of C.,"
With venture money
in his pocket, Tuecke is looking for top talent in business development
Illinois is a hotbed
of nanotech research. Will that result in future jobs? For the
local economy to benefit, nano research must be commercialized
into marketable products. "There's a commercialization gap,"
says author and entrepreneur Daniel Ratner.
Ratner and his co-author
father, Northwestern professor Mark Ratner, spoke last week at
the Brinks Hofer law firm. Bill Prendergast, the firm's nanotech
expert, hosted the event as a tune-up for Nano Commerce 2005,
the trde show that hits McCormick Place Nov. 1-3.
yet been an Intel," says Mark Ratner, meaning no dominant
nanotech organization has emerged the way Intel dominated memory
chips and then microprocessors.
"It's a horse
race," says Ratner, who wants the Midwest to create the nanotech
version of Intel or Cisco.
That's no small idea,
of I.'s Sanders scores
Bill Sanders, a University
of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign computer science professor, is
celebrating a $7.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation
to support his work keeping the nation's electrical power grid
safe from cyber threats.
Krauss is a Chicago-area tech writer and consultant.