Interviews

The State of Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) delivered an application that might sound too good to be true—but isn’t. It’s a difference-maker for the business that achieved green initiative goals, lowered Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), eased management of system assets and their retirement cycles, and was delivered seamlessly and transparently to users.

Serving more than 100,000 children per year, the OKDHS was looking for more effective ways to orient field staff to results-driven performance. A major part of the effort was giving field and central office staff ready access to the department’s data repository for child welfare (known as the KIDS system) with new and highly agile reporting tools.

Four years ago, it took OKDHS users in field offices and headquarters up to three weeks to produce a usable report. Today, these same users can define and produce reports in 24 hours of programming time, obtaining results that are both standard number- and data-oriented reports and pictorial representations of the data, such as pie and bar charts. The new reports let staff quickly see how they’re doing with their child caseloads—and target any critical areas needing immediate response.

Agile reporting was achieved by moving staff from traditional FOCUS (from Information Builders) on an HP UNIX platform to its WebFOCUS product residing on virtualized Linux on System z. This virtualized migration from HP-UX to Linux on System z occurred transparently to OKDHS staff. OKDHS IT coordinated renovation of the reporting function with retirement of aging UNIX assets, simultaneously gaining advantage from new system flexibility and capabilities on System z that simplified asset and workflow management.

The Need for Consolidation

The original migration and consolidation goal for OKDHS was to move the child welfare system from HP-UX to Linux on System z. “We run 15 different systems on the System z,” says Chris Little, OKDHS z/VM administrator. “One of the goals we had for this HP-UNIX to Linux on System z migration was to also migrate from legacy FOCUS on HP-UX to a newer reporting tool on Linux on System z that would make report requests and production easier for our end business users.”

There were several phases—and objectives—in the HP server consolidation project to System z.

“First, DHS had mission-critical systems that it wanted to better position for end business users so they could go about the work of serving the residents of the State of Oklahoma,” says Little. “This involved finding a more user-friendly reporting tool that happened to run in the Linux on System z environment and that our users could learn as they achieved immediate results. At the same time, OKDHS was reaching the end of its technology lifecycle for many of its servers, including the HP-UX machines.”

OKDHS IT elected to take a slow but sure route to the transformation of its IT architecture.

Facing Early Fears

5 Pages