Maine shifts state government website service to out-of-state data centers

Posted March 13, 2017, at 12:10 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — State government web pages will start making a longer commute to your screens later this year, coming from a data center in Virginia rather than facilities in Maine’s capital.

With data moving through fiberoptic cables at roughly the speed of light, the commute won’t make a difference in load times. But equipment at the top-tier Virginia facility will improve service and security, according to Dan Andrews, the administrator of the state’s public-facing information technology operations.

“There is no downside with this migration. It will not impact jobs, there are no additional costs to the state, and there will be no disruption in services,” wrote Andrews, who is administrator for InforME, established in 1997 to put public information from state government online.

Data centers are rated along four tiers, with the top tier having redundancies that make it harder for the whole system to fail.

The move will shift the state’s data to a larger facility owned by the publicly traded NIC Inc., which hosts a wide range of data services for governments and has agreements to manage the overall web presence of state government in 27 states, according to its latest annual report.

“This transition will be seamless to the public, with very minor changes necessary for Maine government agency webmasters,” Andrews wrote.

Andrews wrote that the same technical staff overseeing the Augusta data center will continue to administer the data center after the move.

The data migration is scheduled to start this spring and continue throughout the year, starting with some of the lightest parts of websites hosted at the maine.gov domain. The primary data center will move to Ashburn, Virginia, with a backup in Allen, Texas.

Andrews wrote that an Ashburn, Virginia, data center holds the current backup system. The community is a hub for data centers, which have proliferated throughout much of northern Virginia, according to the trade publication DatacenterDynamics.

Moving the primary data center, Andrews wrote, will help state government websites keep pace with changing technology demands, including improved scalability, where more computing resources can be called up quickly in response to user demand.

NIC, through its subsidiary Maine Information Network LLC, has managed web portals for state government and its various agencies since 1999. The company’s most recent “portal agreement” with Maine expires in July 2018.

 

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