The sensitive personal data of Texans have long been kept in data centers managed by the state. But rapidly rising maintenance costs and the advent of new sharing technologies are persuading many state legislators to consider the affordability and flexibility of cloud storage.

Edward Walters reports on the thorny cost vs. security question faced by Texas in this article in The Texas Tribune:

A decade ago, it cost $278 million to run the centers over the state’s two-year budget cycle; under the current spending plan, it costs about $489 million to operate them.

“What can we do to try to reduce those costs?” state Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, asked state information officers at a recent committee hearing. “Today there’s a lot of options in terms of what we can do with the data center.”
Although some lawmakers have bristled at the idea of private companies storing Texans’ personal information in far-flung locations, proponents of the reforms say data security will be at the forefront of any decision they make.


Doug Robinson, the executive director of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, said many states beyond Texas are discussing changes to their data centers. Ten states store data on mainframe computers that are located off-premise, according to the group. Others pursue a “hybrid model” with a mix of on-premise and remote storage. A survey found that more than half of states plan to downsize their data centers.

“The next question is, once you’ve continued to look at that model, does it make more sense to actually decide that as a state you’re not going to be in the data center business at all,” Robinson said.

The pros and cons of relying more heavily on cloud storage providers are similar to the tradeoffs associated with the outsourcing of any service, said Yevgeniy Sverdlik, editor-in-chief of Data Center Knowledge, a website that tracks the industry. “Instead of making a sandwich on your own, you have to buy a packaged sandwich,” he said.