Google Cloud NEXT '17 - News and Updates

One CIO’s Experience Making a Real Difference Through the Power of Cloud (Google Cloud Next ’17)

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(Video Transcript)
[THEME MUSIC] FLINT WATERS: Well, hello there. I want to thank everybody for making it to Next 17 and for braving through the long day to come in here for this session. This is the closest in my athletic career I've ever come to batting clean-up, to be in here at the end of the day, so thanks so much for making it. I'm Flint Waters. I was the former CIO for the State of Wyoming. I'm now with Google. It's a long journey that gets there, and I'll talk a little bit about it. But we're going to talk quite a bit over the next hour about the methods we went through and the pain we suffered and all the things that came about being the very first state to go Google. And to kind of capitalize on the sentiment behind the need to drive quality of life improvements for the citizens of Wyoming, I want to step back to the very beginning of my journey with Google as a partner, and it started, oh, 2002, 2003. At the time, I was the lead of the Wyoming Internet Crimes Against Children task force, and the United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming was Matt Mead.

And what I did at that time is I spent a lot of time on the internet looking for predators, folks that targeted children, and when I very first started doing those types of operations, I noticed that I had the potential, through technology, to very dramatically impact the lives of our citizens. And after the first couple of undercover arrests– I used to pose as a little girl on the internet. I'm going to let you shake that image off for a moment. But after the first couple of arrests, I found quite a few indicators of guys that were physically abusing little bitty kids, and I started doing some research on how we could find them, because the big trend at that time was to hang out in chat rooms and get these emotionally crippled guys that would show up to meet a 13-year-old girl. And in the course of working in those types of cases, I found guys that were targeting infants. They were targeting toddlers, and I wanted to catch them. And so in conjunction with the US Attorney's Office, I developed some algorithms that would let us find these guys that were hands-on abusers, that were hurting kids, through the guilt cycle that they demonstrated on the public internet.

And I could identify, based on their traffic patterns, the things they were doing in clear public view, who was likely a hands-on abuser of kids. And I took that to Matt Mead, the US attorney, and I made the case that I thought we could actually leverage technology to rescue those kids. And the US attorney is a political appointee, presidential appointee, and he had aspirations of a political career, and I didn't think my odds were good of convincing him that, through these algorithms, I could successfully catch these bad guys. I keep moving forward here, sorry. I don't know what I'm doing. But Matt was always the kind of guy that he measured things based on is it the right thing to do, and so he said let's go out. Let's do this. Let's try it out and see if we can get a rescue. Our very first search warrant, we went out. We got a rescue. We got a child that was being abused, and we started doing more and more of these. And what I found was that all the jurisdictions around me were having the same issues, but there was a lot– they were very tentative to work internet undercover operations because it was difficult, from the beginning of the investigation, to see if they were in your yard.

The internet really challenged law enforcement, and it challenged a lot of the laws early on, and so we used Google Earth to give law enforcement a graphical representation of where the offenders were in their jurisdiction and then prioritize the likelihood of which ones were hands on abusers. Before long, it was being used in all 50 states. We shared this with all those around us. We then started sharing it internationally. I taught it at Interpol, and I taught at Cairo and Malta and Australia. And it ended up going global, and we rescued thousands and thousands of kids on the back of that technology. And over the course of that, it really punctuated the sentence that government could have a strong impact on quality of life by appropriately engaging technology. And so I was always favorable to Google because the way they allowed me to leverage Google Earth– we didn't have any money. We had no funding for this initiative– allowed me to go out and make those things happen. Well, the US Attorney Matt Mead– I retired from law enforcement 2008.

When Matt Mead ran and then became governor of the State of Wyoming, he asked me to come into the state as the CIO, and I got the opportunity to serve under the mission that he wanted us to figure out how to do for all of government what we had done for kids. So the tasking was empower the business needer, the needs, to be able to innovate in the way that you did. That was the challenge he gave me walking in the door. The prior CIO, Bob von Wolffradt, had just signed the contract to be the first state to go Google, so they were starting the early adopters the week that I came in as CIO. And I want to talk a little bit about it because it was interesting, the day I walked in. I walk in. I walk into the administrative assistant for the CIO, and I say, OK, here's what I'm going to need. I need a MacBook. I need an iPhone. I'm going to need– she said, no, you can't have that. I said, well, why not? Well, this is– we use Windows 7 and a BlackBerry. And I said, OK, well, I understand that, except I need a MacBook, and I want an iPhone.

And I want– she said, no, that hasn't been approved, and I said, all right, who has to approve it? She said the CIO. I said this is me. You could hear the hush fall over the building because I was one of those that used a Mac, and in government, that's not– that's startling. And I think a lot of it was because there was such a strong vested interest in the expertise we already had. There was this commitment and belief in the investment in ourselves for the things we knew how to run, which is sometimes contrary to this concept of innovation, and that's what led me to the doorstep of what Wyoming took on moving forward. Now, here's my first key for you that I would recommend. If you're a state, and you're looking to move to the cloud, you're looking to innovate, I would recommend that you get what I had, which is a very tech-aware governor, someone heavily committed to tech as a quality of life issue because it makes a huge difference to helping us get started.

But I want to speak to this, but it's not going to be about where we've been. That's it. That was the history, as why I reached that point, and it got me to the point where we had all of these rescues, so if I completely blew this, they would go, oh, that's all right. Get out of here. At least you did something good in your life. I'd be OK. I was able to take a little bit of risk. But it was far more about where we were going, and I say this because I saw RFPs coming across my desk that were formatted about wanting new technology, and included in the RFP was all the limitation tying it to where we had been. It was all the language that restricted it to how we had always done things, and I was struck by the fact that we want you to help us innovate, but we really don't want to change anything. That leads you to a rather difficult decision, and it really empowers a CIO to make a bold shift. And that's what we tried to take on. One thing that I learned early on in this, there's two things that people hate– change and the way things are.

So I was positioned in a point that, no matter what I did, we were going to struggle with perceptions and outcomes. And so many of the folks that I was working with, that were advising me, again, were heavily invested in the status quo, and they did not recognize that the status quo has to be defended. If you wish to believe it's the way to keep going, you need to demonstrate why, and they soon learned that the worst excuse they could give coming into my office was because we've always done it that way, because in tech we've come to understand that the way we've always done it, by design, is wrong, because we're moving. We're shifting. Even to the point that, in many of our agencies, every challenge was met by a server. We want you to work on sex offender registry. I must buy a server. And this was not a virtual machine. This was sticking in a rack. Now, early on, these were not even in racks. These were desktop units set in hallways of agencies. We were completely decentralized, so almost every agency had their own IT team.

They had their own stacks they built to. They might be in a data center, or their data center might be a closet, might be a hallway. It was fascinating. We had one of our departments, Department of Health, had their own little data center. And the first time I went into it, there was sheets of plastic hanging from the roof, taped together, because the roof leaked, and they wanted to route the water away from the computers because they're– that's what we were– I say this because we were so far behind. There's a couple of folks in here that are hiding their head. I'm not going to point you out. It was an interesting point for us to take on, but it was also an excellent opportunity to engage for a big win for the State of Wyoming. As we moved to Google, we made it a point– and this is something that Google doesn't really speak about a lot, that I think is a message that's lacking. And that is it is this massive and amazing ecosystem. It's not just G Suite. It's not just cloud.

The fact is there's so much there that is interconnected, that is capable of expansion and leveraging components to benefit. I don't believe anyone else has this same combination, because when you look at it, from Android, we've got all the mobile capabilities. We've got the full productivity suite. We've got unlimited storage. We've got massive database engines we can tie in to App Engine, containers, all the things that we can build against. It was a gift. For me, as a new CIO, it was a gift. Now, I get it, that a CIO– especially in government, the average tenure for a government state CIO is 28 months. They're flipping these guys like hotcakes, which means you're really up there taking a bullet. I felt, a lot of the time I would get up in the morning before I went to work, concerned that today might be the day that we had a major breach on a system I haven't been able to get to the cloud yet, and I was going to step in front of a round for the governor.

There was a lot of what we did, but as we moved through, we got some really amazing changes that we didn't anticipate, and I didn't plan very well. Now, this session is designed so that you can come up and ask questions, and here's a chance to get me on recording. And you can ask the how, you can ask the why, what we ran into as we were building these things out, and I will be extremely candid with you. The only thing I won't do is cast aspersion on another vendor. That's not Google's way. It was my way six months ago, but it's not today. We really started capturing and propagating ideas at the speed of thought, and I say that because it's really a big deal to a lot of workflows. Google was born in the cloud, so they've known that from birth. Now, states are a little different, and a lot of companies are a little bit different. If you hold that the Lord built the heavens and earth in six days, you have to accept he had no legacy data to weigh him down.

We had a lot to try and pick– it's OK if you pretend to laugh. I pretend to be funny. There's a lot of challenge there in bringing up all these archaic systems that the states are so heavily tied to. We went through and replaced 15 email systems, different directories. We reduced our email admins from 13 to two. Now, we serve an enterprise of 10,000 executive branch employees, and we also deployed solutions for Wyoming schools. So we put out 100,000 license– 100,000 user license of Google for Education and offered it to any school district that wanted to go Google. And we called it Wyo for Life, and we did this in conjunction with what we were rolling out for state government. So we were managing both with two admins. But this empowered us to completely change the budget quagmire, to completely shift how we do business because, in state government, the budget prep cycle to get your dollars was about 24 months long. And then there was six months on the front of that for your business case, to get it through governance approval and then start the legislative process.

Well, can you imagine putting a 30-month lead time on your agile IT response to a problem? That's what we faced. We had hundreds of physical servers. We had two major data centers on the state campus, and when I walked in the door, the president of the senate was fully prepared to build us a $40 million data center. We were going to build out an IT facility very much like the University of Wyoming did. Wyoming University had a beautiful data center. Of course, theirs is a little different mission than ours. And I had the privilege, if you want to call it that, of going in front of the legislature and saying, I don't think it's a good idea. Yeah, I'd have a great corner office. I'd have a beautiful view, and I'd be sitting up here in this single point of failure. And it's not what I felt Wyoming needed for the long game. So instead we took $16 million, and we built out 100-S gigabit IPv6 backbone throughout the entire state. Instead of building our own data center, we moved to the cloud, and we built up backbone.

So now, there's towns in Sheridan, Wyoming, little bitty beautiful little town, 7000, 8,000 people. I should know this. I used to live there. There's two vendors you can get a 100-gig internet from in that little town because instead of investing in our own facility, we invested in a backbone that reinforced the broadband providers throughout Wyoming and lifted everyone. We went from dead last for broadband capacity for schools, for education– we were like five kilobits per second per student, peak utilization– to first, all the way to first. And the way we did that was by getting out of the data center business. I mean, how arrogant of me to think that I could manage the cooling and the power and the physical plant and the security for our physical data centers better than Google could? And so I didn't even bother trying. And you ask the question, what prompts you to make that decision? Well, I asked them to bring me the certifications of our physical data centers. I have those here.

There was nothing. We didn't go through and have those certifications. We were not– I wouldn't say we weren't compliant. But we weren't externally validated. We did have audits on certain types of data content, but we were still running everything physical. One of the other big opportunities that we picked up from disrupting that quagmire was we moved from buying physical servers and that budget cycle and Capex to Opex. Because as we moved to the cloud, everything shifted to a contracted negotiation with Google or our other partners. Now, Google wasn't the only cloud partner that I built on. It wasn't the only one that I engaged. It made sense for me to go out and try and do a diverse approach, diversify my cloud portfolio. Remember what I said at the beginning about I will not speak ill of anyone else? So I won't tell you how that project went. I'll just tell you with Google, it went really, really well. A couple other things that we picked up early on, we dramatically reduced our VPN deployments because we pushed so much offsite.

This was quite a lift because prior to this, almost every state employee had a VPN connection. They could get into the campus from home. They were able to beachhead malware on their home computer and then deliver it directly into our core. It was a phenomenal design. Didn't work as well as we had thought. We were able to get out of that business. We replaced buying servers and started buying services. And we were able to close our data centers. Now, that's unheard of. We closed our physical data centers. And I would love to claim that this was brilliant foresight on my part. It was not. It made sense to prepare ourselves for cloud. And I was all in. I had moved our agency entirely into Google. We had no drive shares, had no drive letters. We had no SharePoint instances. Everything was sitting on Google's cloud for our file services, which meant I could function anytime, anywhere, from any device. And then, this happened. So I don't have a pointer here. But just above and to the right of the crane there, see the large hole in the side of that building?

That's my primary data center. The legislature decided that they were going to approve the remodel of the capitol and the adjoining building, and I had six months once the funding was released to vacate my primary data center. Now, this is government. We take six months to talk about what we might do. It was a pretty big move. Now, by then, Wyoming IT folks had become such an amazing– well, they were an amazing group– but they had shifted to an off-premise dependency, which made it really amazing how quickly they were able to make this push, and shift and vacate that data center. And they did it. And it was very cool. Now, this was my primary. This was my good data center that we closed out of. And I want to speak a little bit about that, because I didn't know quite how brilliant the IT staff were that I inherited as I came into the state. Because I was always under the impression that they were pretty heavily risk-averse. And as I started looking into it, they had very good reason to be risk-averse.

They had not really been free to innovate and break. The concept of fail early wasn't really introduced. And so I had some difficulties getting them to take those chances, to take a leap of faith. So what I started doing is every meeting that I would walk into with the staff, at the beginning of the meeting, I would write a one and a big asterisk behind it. It's from my law enforcement days. And then, I explained to them, look, I'm asking you to take a chance. I'm asking you to invent. I'm asking you to take risk. And at the end of the day, there's only one ass to risk here. And it's mine. If it blows up, it's on me. You take the chance, and I will back you. Once they tested that a little bit and a little bit more, I soon became amazed at how they could invent. They just hadn't been turned loose to do that before. They really did some amazing things. Now, I mentioned before this was my primary data center. I also had a secondary backup data center. But the backup data center was a little old.

We were in an old junior high school. The IT offices were an old junior high school. And the data center was in the old gym, which had a wood floor, which is an interesting choice for a data center, wood being not as necessarily safe for where we were building out our equipment. That was my backup. And the generator that ran it, we were on an EPA waiver that allowed us to turn it on to test it. It was so out of date we couldn't start it until we got the waiver. So we knew it was going to go away. And we were preparing to have it replaced. I tell you that because of this picture. I don't know if you know this, I'm not an electric guy. I do know that they explained to me that generators have a certain amount of magic smoke inside them that makes them able to deliver the power we need if we lose connectivity to the city. Well, that's our generator. And that's all the magic smoke escaping out of it. It burned up, seized up the diesel. I mean, seized tight. This was right in the middle of us moving out of the primary data center.

Now, normally, if you are dependent on two data centers, this is going to be a pretty impactful moment in your CIO career. We were really, really fortunate because we had built our help ticket system in App Engine. So we had already moved it completely off premise. We had built out all of our core IT onto the Google side for the enterprise agency. So we didn't actually lose any service time as this went out. As we moved forward, we finally got to the point where we no longer had on-premise data centers. The only thing left there, now, there's a mainframe for the Department of Transportation. I put glass in it. And I make money on the tickets. I bring people in and show them. And I'm not picking on mainframe– it's great technology– but all the people that run it are gone. It was really, I had a guy hidden in Idaho in the mountains that was there to help me bail out if we had any issues. That sounds like– it's not a joke. I actually had a guy hidden in Idaho. If Tony Young is here, he's not going to be happy that I gave that up.

Tony, are you out there? No? OK. All right. What Google did for us, it really became a catalyst for cultural change. And we reinvented how we delivered IT. But we had to learn a couple of pretty tough lessons to make this succeed. We moved to a more agile business management approach, and we changed the employee empowerment to invest back in folks. And this is one of my change management ideas to point out for you. Many of the folks that were around me were quite concerned that if we went towards a no-ops mindset, I wasn't going to need them anymore. This was job threatening. Now, I can accept that it was expertise threatening because it required that they learn new skill sets, or expand on their skill sets. But there's a belief a lot of times when you start this engagement that it is also going to be job threatening. And it took a lot of effort to engage those folks and win them over. We started a very aggressive employee training program. We started pushing folks to learn cybersecurity roles.

We started pushing to expand on their skill set. By the time we got fully into this process, our folks ended up with far more impressive resumes. They were far more adept at doing what we did. And we finally got out of having folks that ran cables. We got out of folks that had to crawl under rocks and troubleshoot equipment. We really minimized how that was, but it's not an easy shift. And one of the things that I would say in engaging that, find your malcontents and engage them. And I loved my malcontents. Because folks who are not happy with how things are, if given the right tools, are the folks that can make some of the most amazing improvements. George Bernard Shaw talked about how the reasonable man complies to fit his world and the unreasonable man demands that his world change to fit him. I totally butchered the quote, but so all change, all progress is based on unreasonable men. Well, there's something to be said for that. I found the folks that did not like how things were and empowered and equipped them to try and help make that change.

And it was a pretty big difference. Because those are the same folks that can find amazing ways to stop you from doing it, the same folks that could find reasons not to. And I really had to wrap my head around what it would take to get those teams focused on what we wanted to build. I'll talk a little bit about what that entailed. We got rid of our storage– our drive storage– and pushed all of that to the cloud behind filer devices. We moved all of our physical data center off and into a public data center with the cloud on the back end to expand it, and anything that we could go straight cloud, we did. This was a pretty massive shift for government. But it was also a massive shift in expectations for the types of folks we were bringing in the door. Because a lot of the teams that I was bringing in were millennials that had been using this technology to succeed. They were accustomed to it. My son– my son's in high school– he comes home from school. He walks into his room. Byooo.

All the lights dim down while he powers in everything that he's got in his backpack. He jumps online. He jumps into a Hangout. He's with six of his buddies. And they're doing their work. They're busting out slide decks. They're doing sheets. He's in the robotics club, so they're designing the next iteration of their robots. He expects that type of capability. The worst thing I could do to him, bringing him in the door, is handing him– AUDIENCE: Something else. FLINT WATERS: Something else. Thank you. Thank you for– you could see where I was looking. I was just going to go ahead and jump. Giving those folks what they are accustomed to succeed was a big win. And it also helped the expectation for the delivery of knowledge. Because we were accustomed to workflows where you would capture the ideas, you would capture the principles in a physical document, you would send it out to seven or eight people, you would wait for their input to come back, you would reconcile the differences, and you would do it again.

At best, you were capturing one frame of mind a day. And we shifted that so that we would be able to capture it in real time. Probably, you've seen some of the demos, or if you're accustomed to the tools, you've seen the folks jumping and doing all the simultaneous authoring and all the pieces that came together. Very powerful shift. And Google is accustomed to that. We were not. We had to reinvent how we did. We actually tackled workflows. I tried to convince folks to look at every workflow they engaged and disassemble it and reinvent it. And we'll talk a little bit more. This was my office. Originally, I had this big battleship of a desk. And it had an $18,000 compressed digital video unit on it that hadn't been used in a long time. It was like a Yugo sitting there. And folks would come in and sit in front of it. And I got rid of all of that. And we worked on the round. And we took GVCs– Chromebox for Meetings– Chromecasts, and we put up large screens and white boards everywhere.

We closed half of our meeting rooms and put these devices in the hallways. And we started using Scrums. We use Scrum, of course, for Agile development. But I liked the approach. So I started using it for business management, as well. We would pull into the meeting to solve a particular business issue. And somebody would throw 10 minutes on the timer. And we would work through the solution and build out the answer. It was quite enabling in giving us– yes, sir. Would you please go to the mic for me? AUDIENCE: Sure. FLINT WATERS: And if anyone has questions, just step right up because I'm happy to take them as we're moving along here. AUDIENCE: I hope you still have the lightsaber. That's all. FLINT WATERS: Oh, yes. Well, yeah. The lightsaber is a standard. I brought that when I came to Google. My team gave me that as we were changing. That's basic nerd lore there. We got rid of– we actually got out of the phone business too. There was so much that Google didn't tell me I could do.

And this empowerment was massive. A good example, Governor Mead and his wife would go to the Middle East and provide Thanksgiving dinner to our guard troops that were deployed overseas, the Wyoming guard units, except that it coincided when he needed to do the annual budget press conference, the formal budget press conference that had always been done– the way they always did it– in the formal conference room in the governor's office. So he went ahead and went. We set up a screen in the formal conference room. Someone sat in front of him at an airport in the Middle East with a Nexus 7, and we did a Hangout live for his budget press conference. He looked the press in the eye. He took their questions. He joked and laughed with them. He announced he was going to run again. He really leveraged this technology as a force multiplier. I saved over a million dollars a year just on the dedicated video equipment that I no longer had to buy on the backs of what I got as part of G Suite. I saved over $500,000 a year on the denial of service protection because I moved the state's website to Google Sites.

I moved a lot of what we were doing up onto the Cloud side. And it gave us quite a bit of power. We streamed the governor's State of the State address from inside the legislative chamber as a YouTube live event. When he did his large energy proposal and release, that was done as a Hangout On Air, and citizens could take questions. They could jump in, take questions back to the governor's office, and ask about what we were doing. That was a huge transparency of government leveraged by this technology that we put in so that we could have Mail and Calendar. And this was so much about where I had made mistakes, because I did not anticipate the scale with which this could change what we did once I empowered the malcontents. And please, when I say that, it's somewhat joking, but it is endearing for me because I'm one of those folks. I'm a disruptor. I like to break stuff and reinvent. I did have a lot of agencies that I had to win over. And so I'm going to share this little bit with you.

And you can make fun of me if you'd like. This is a bit of a weakness of mine, but I'm from Wyoming, and we have a bucking horse on our license plates. It is a cowboy culture. And I had agencies that I had to engage to convince them why they should throw out how they did everything and reinvent. And so, this is what I came up with. Sometimes you have to get off the horse. And the premise was, if you're trying to win over the brand inspectors, or the livestock board, or the Department of Agriculture, me explaining the power of machine learning and data analytics isn't necessarily going to convince them that this is a worthy journey. So what I did is I went in and I met when I said, OK, let's assume that it's 1885. And you're moving your herd from El Paso to the railhead in Cheyenne. All right. Everybody is with me. Now, if it takes you 30 days and the rancher says, I want you to get it there in 28 days, you can put the spurs to the horse, and you can get there in 28 days.

But if the rancher says, I want him there in three days, what do you have to do? I put it on the screen. You have to get off the horse. You have to reinvent how you do business. That's how you explain moonshot thinking to Department of Agriculture. I say this premise because it's really important to empower the business leads to help explain how you justify exponential increase in capability versus incremental. How do you do exponential improvement? You have to reinvent how you go about it. And with that in mind, we started running grassroots training where anyone in the state could attend, any of the state employees could attend. And I would go in and just talk about how to tear down your current workflow, your perception of how business was done, so that I could get you to ride Google's innovation curve. Because in the legacy mindset, we started building solutions on a physical server that started to decay the moment I put it into production. We had $30 million of investment into an application that was tied to a specific version of the database engine.

And over the 20 years it was expected to run, halfway through that, that database engine quit getting patched. It wasn't getting security updates. And yet, we still had critical government information in there. So I had to convince them that it was time to start building on the top of an upwardly mobile framework and give them that flexibility that even if we didn't get funding to enhance it next year, App Engine was continually enhanced, made even more secure, optimized by Google. So our investment continued to rise in functionality and capability because it was riding that curve. I really wanted to position Wyoming so that when it was time to do analytics, when we could do machine learning, our data was secure, positioned well, and we could operate. I did not realize when I did it that we were also going to free up enough budget that we could pay for the innovation. This was the dirty little secret. We freed up far more than we spent on Google. Far more. I moved systems that would have cost me $600,000 to build on to App Engine, and I paid for the monthly consumption with a credit card.

The next thing I would ask of them is to think about how much mobile has impacted your personal life and theirs. If you think right now, how much different is home now because of those devices? And would the citizens feel like the product we deliver to them is equally as impactful? And it clearly wasn't. We weren't keeping up. We couldn't do it. So this was another capability that I had to convince these folks to rethink, reinvent, and reengage. Now, there are a lot of areas in government where we had clients built to leverage the software that we didn't have the funding to rebuild from the ground up. But we wanted to make it mobile aware. We wanted to make it deliverable to citizens. So we built a synchronization engine that would scan a SQL Server, replicate the schema in Google's cloud, and then synchronize the data one way upwards, which allowed me to continue to work on premise– or in our offsite data center– against the products I could afford that were already in place.

But I could build modern, mobile apps that could leverage it for the citizens. So it was kind of a half step to start modernizing how we were deploying those solutions. And that was something that we, as we moved forward, found that to be immensely beneficial. Because it also pulled all that citizen activity off of our network and carried it upwards. One of the other pieces that was a difficult delivery, and we did finally get there, is I needed to get across to folks that tangible results are about getting wisdom and recognition into the mind of your target audience. And I say that because so much of what we had was built on the premise of the printed page. The tangible outcome, the final result, was printed page. Now, I won't ask you to raise your hand, but how many of you have workflows today that the first step of it is to start formatting a document to capture the information that is going to be in the printed format? I mean, that's just how we've thought for a long time.

And yet, it's really not relevant anymore. Because so much of this, if I want to make sure I can get into the wisdom before you, I need to make it present here, not in print. When I very first started and they got me my first set of business cards, I had a fax number on them. This was 2011. That was a little sad, actually. All right. Here's my challenge. If you are engaging in this process, one of the things I would ask to consider of your folks, we have traditionally designed our workflows based on our perception of the capabilities of the technology. Now, that's potentially flawed, because very few of us– now I'm surrounded by a lot of folks that are brilliant about this, but in government, very few of us fully knew all of the capabilities of the technology– and so we were designing from a crippled version of what the potential outcomes would be. Rather, I would offer that you challenge it from your perfect world scenario. In other words, invent what your perfect world would look like without regard to the technology.

Once that's done, then engage the tech to rise to your need. That shifts from being change adverse to change expectant. It moves it to where you now want to see the enhancements that come out of an agile, capable company like Google. And this is where they really shine. This allowed us to reinvent how we started to build. And most of the folks, once you can engage them to find this premise, they can invent a perfect world that the tech isn't rising to yet. It's getting closer and getting closer. But now, as new updates come along, they're more excited to see them. And that's a win. That positions us well as you move from this legacy, build it and it's decaying, to build it on a rising, continually improving innovation curve. And those changes are around every corner. It helps leverage that expectation of what they're going to get next. Now, there are a couple of things I wish I'd known. About a year ago, I realized that we had really disrupted the IT business model for the state of Wyoming.

And my folks were doing amazing things. They were going far beyond what I dreamed. They were doing far better than I, by myself, would have figured out. And I found myself– my deputy CIO was spending a lot of time just keeping me from being out in the hallway terrorizing the villagers. And they were going on and doing great things. And so, I knew I needed to move on because I was a disruptor, right? I like to break things. And they were really doing well. So I asked the governor for permission to pursue a career with Google. The governor's a great guy. And we had a lot of conversation about it. And he gave me his blessing. And so, I separated myself from all business activity related to Google. And I started pursuing to come to Google because I heard that they were going to be doing some new, impressive things that could help governments do more, serve more, rescue kids, prevent fires, change how government deploys services. And I wanted to be a part of it. And that's what led me to go after Google.

Now, I am a Googler. In September, I left the state. And I got on with Google. And now, I'm in the Professional Services Organization. So I'm part of the team that now companies can contract to come in and give them an inside view of what Google can do, give them that trusted partner to help them succeed. I so wish I'd had that. And once I went through the onboarding, I learned about Spanner. Oh, my god. I would have killed to have that year ago. That would have been a huge game-changer. I mean, even just Cloud storage. Had I known that I could have redirected all my backup solutions to cloud storage and then airline storage, I was charging like $0.34 a gig for backup. And I could have pushed that– and it was on tape. It was on a tape library that you had to wait four hours to load the tapes. I could have pushed that over, you know, what? 7/10 of a penny? And it was available to access in milliseconds. I could have bought it back. Gosh, I wish I'd have known that. It would have been very, very cool.

There's a long list. And you're probably seeing them here. It is an amazing company. And one of the things that I learned once I got in here is how far they go in measuring their success, now our success, based on the success of their customers. And I was not used to that as a CIO for the state of Wyoming. I had vendors that came in and told me all kinds of things. But when things broke, I wasn't necessarily getting that same love. And I've seen how those things work now. It's quite a little bit different. I mean, you look at BigQuery. You look at just moving DR to Nearline would have been massive for me. So many things I wish I could have done. And there have been a couple of states that have done some pretty impressive things, some cities have done really impressive things. Nicky's going to come in from SADA and talk for a moment. You want to come up for me? Nicky is going to give an example of– please, go up to the mic if you've got a question before we transition.

And then, whichever one. AUDIENCE: Just quick, two minutes. What did you do with the ERP HCM workloads? FLINT WATERS: So what's the percentage of the ERP workloads that are failing right now? If you don't have a really, really good partner, there's an awful lot of risk there. The areas that were within our control, we tried to go back and reinvent and develop solutions with partners that were cloud-aware to deploy solutions. That's as far as I can take that answer and not talk about another vendor. Is that fair? One of the things that we also did do– I do want to share this– as we built out on App Engine and moved to no-ops deployment that leveraged Google's cloud where I no longer had to worry about patching OSes, I no longer had to worry about patching databases, I could just build agile solutions, all those solutions that we built in there, we open sourced. Our help ticket system, our e-procurement system, our credentialing system was all built so that we could give it to another state.

We could hand it over. Because Wyoming, we don't compete with Colorado. It's not like if we have better numbers, we're going to buy them, right? We shared everything with them. And then, they can share with us. We can share with the other states that have had the good vision to move to Google. And that continues– that will help build that repository where we can leverage that cloud for all of us for the better. I'll go and then we'll do questions afterwards? NICKY PARSEGHIAN: Yes. Sounds good. Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Nicky Parseghian. I'm with SADA Systems. There you go. Thank you. I'm with SADA Systems. We're one of the premier partners over here with Google. We specialize in G Suites, Google Cloud Platform, and also, Google Maps. Today, what I wanted to talk about is one of our counties over here, Douglas County in Omaha, Nebraska. I want to talk a little bit about what they did in their use case. To give you a little bit of background without going into too much details, Douglas County, Nebraska, so Douglas County Technology Commission, DOTComm, they migrated to G Suites in 2013.

I'm not going to go into the detail as to why, or the background, or the RFPs, which, as Flint mentioned, RFPs can be very long. What I want to hone in is more of the afterwards. Douglas County, about 5,000 employees, 70 departments, they support the city and the county, so all the branches, ranging from city hall to the county library to the county clerk's office, all of them, 70 total, they're supporting them. From a technology standpoint, when we're talking about empowering people and empowering IT, what we want to come out of is not a set of things that we're prescribing to them. Because, as Flint mentioned, you're used to doing things your own way. So if we are talking about RFPs, we've been doing emails like that. And this is exactly, I'm taking things here, I'm putting you over there, and I'm done with the day. When you're presented with new challenges, traditionally you're looking at a board, and you're checking boxes. Does that solution has this?

Does he have that? You're looking to find and purchase solutions that are going to be feeding your use case. You don't really look– I do that every day, to be honest. I think I'm a big offender amongst the entire room over here. But usually we don't look at what we have right now, which is a big mistake. With that said, however, Douglas County over here, what happened in early 2016 is that the ACLU of Nebraska essentially published a research that really instilled some changes across the state and the counties within the state. Without going into details, what they found out was if you deprive children of human contact and interactions, so in the corrections office, in the corrections department, essentially, if somebody is misbehaving, you're going to put them in isolation, just like with the adults. But if you deprive them of human contact for more than four hours consecutively, it turns out that it has some dire effects both on the physical side and on the psychological side for those children.

So the state wanted to make a change right away, of course, and make sure that all the counties and all the correction officers, correction locations, were able to provide the best care for the children. Douglas County volunteered to be one of the pioneers to build that platform and report. As you can imagine, the state is given a mandate and you're ending up in a room where you have a lot of people trying to figure out how do we do things? How do we track? And how do we make sure that those children are being reached every four hours? That's the business requirement. What they did was very innovative. They looked at what we have. They didn't have budget. That thing happened in January of 2016. Budgets are closed. There's nothing. There's no funding available. You can't buy a solution anymore. So they looked at what they had. And they went to the whiteboard. They have a lovely conference room over there. I've been there quite a few times. They just whiteboarded the business process.

They made it very simple, which is, I'm going over there whenever somebody is in isolation. I got to go and check on a few things, make sure that first, they are all right, and also, can they go back into the common area with the other children? To do so, you have a few requirements. Of course, you have a few boxes that you have to tick. And that's what they did. They built very simple processes with tools that they had. Everybody has mobile devices. They went, themselves, on G Suite with our help in 2013. So we knew, we all knew, that they had Gmail and mobile phones. As a result, what we did was we leveraged Google Drive, Google Forms as an input. We didn't have to design any interfaces. We didn't have to design anything. All we had to do is, what are the questions? Focus on the content. Don't focus on the form. To Flint's point, many people focus on the interfaces and the design before focusing on the content. Forget about all that. Trust that Google is going to give you a platform for that.

So they built forms, and all that information fed into a few sheets, into a few Google Sheets. And what they had to do from there is literally just monitor that information and build some metrics, some graphs, some reports, to present that to the county, and to the state, sorry. With our help, they were able to do from stage zero to 100% in just a few months. It was very impressive. And in fact, they were at like 95% when we went there. We literally helped them getting the most out of the platform by leveraging Google Sheets and Google Apps Scripts. Sorry. What we did is we've broken down the process to business requirements, kept it simple, kept it straightforward. What do you need to do to accomplish your task? And then, transform out of it. With that said, I think this example is a very good transformational example of an organization that essentially uses the tools that are at their disposal. I urge you, and I invite you, to look at the Suites. What you have right now, many of you, just like us, moved to G Suites primarily for email.

At first, you didn't want to manage your emails. You didn't want to have a server somewhere, no matter which brand or manufacturer. You just wanted to get rid of it. So G Suite was your point of contact. And with it, you gained a lot of tools, a lot of functionality, a lot of beef. Whether your users adopted it or was not really your concern. Because you had your ROI already. Nowadays, though, if you're switching and looking at the overall value of the Google Platform– and I hope that you're going to learn a lot of things throughout those three days– you can have a lot of very interesting optimization that you can do, whether you're using G Suites over here, or Flint mentioned App Engine, Compute Engine, Dataflow, BigQuery, I think. You have a lot of these. I can't even name all of them. There's literally, I think, 60 or 70 of these services. Just focus on what you need, use exactly what you want, and then iterate out of it. Constantly innovate and iterate so that you can stay on top.

Right? Google is going to iterate on their product. I was sitting in a conversation, in a session this morning, Google Sheets, in 2006, apparently could not handle more than 1,000 cells of data. So imagine back then if you had to build this workflow on this, it would have faced quite a few limitations. But sure enough, without changing a lot of things, Google just innovated the back end and made it a wonderful product as it is today. Trust that the platform is going to get even better and better without having to have any negative impact, upgrade, platform, or anything like that. And just build your workflows, day in, day out. [MUSIC PLAYING]


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Hear from the former CIO for the State of Wyoming on how his team closed data centers, consolidated IT, reinvented the development life-cycle and proved that Innovation at the Speed of Government was not a punchline. Wyoming’s journey to the cloud has resulted in award winning changes you won’t want to miss.

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