The state of Louisiana is completely modernizing its technology infrastructure, transforming the mismatched legacy network to an interoperable system of software-defined data centers and service-oriented architecture.

Once completed, the new network will provide a model for other states to follow and put Louisiana in a nationwide technology leadership position, aligned with best practice recommendations at the state and the federal level.

The project began in 2014 with the overhaul of state Medicare and Medicaid systems, which led to a comprehensive review of the state’s technology infrastructure. In the end, it became the Louisiana Enterprise Architecture (EA) project, dedicated to modernizing and standardizing systems for all 16 state governmental agencies. When completed, the state hopes to have a modern system that is scalable, cost-effective, standardized, and customer-oriented.

Revamping data centers from legacy systems to software-defined data centers required a significant investment in virtualization technologies. The new architecture uses hyperconverged Nutanix servers and software-defined networking solutions from VMware.

Mike Allison, CTO for the State of Louisiana, said, “We looked to virtualize everything. Adding VMware NSX was the solution that led to the software-defined data center.”

Implementing an SDDC strategy not only helped the state to meet goals for security, with low cost and minimal downtime. It also allows the state to increase capacity and to provide a service-oriented architecture (SOA), simplifying user interactions with improvements like a single sign-on for employees as well as private citizens.

Previously, each of the state’s 16 governmental agencies had separate username and password management solutions, requiring citizens wishing to access services to create a different login for each department.

As one of the primary initiatives for the EA project, the team implemented a shared platform for all departments from CA Technologies that enabled Single Sign-On (SSO) technology. As Matthew Vince, Director of Project Management for the Louisiana Office of Technology Services, said: “It starts with SSO. One account to log in to all systems, internal or external.”

The Single Sign-On idea is fundamental to the system, so much that it led to the creation of an ‘active-active’ mode for the Identity and Access Management (IAM) system. The state’s two data centers run identical implementations of the IAM system, so that users wishing to access the system can remain unaffected by downtime or network issues.