Customer Story

State of Arizona: Enhancing productivity and security with cloud collaboration

State of Arizona

The State of Arizona improves productivity and security with G Suite, migrating 36,000 employees and contractors with help from SADA Systems and saving millions of dollars over the next 3 years.

Google Cloud Results

Removed 107K malicious emails in 1 month

• Improves productivity with real-time collaboration

• Enhances security by identifying malicious email that eluded the previous system

• Saves millions of dollars in storage, administration, and license costs over the next 3 years

• Supports Arizona's statewide cloud-first policy for IT

When it comes to information technology, the state of Arizona is a leader among U.S. states. In 2018, the Arizona Department of Administration Arizona Strategic Enterprise Technology (ADOA-ASET) office signed a statewide cloud-first policy for server, infrastructure, and software application technologies. Business units across the state are now required to use cloud computing services and commercial cloud-based applications for any new IT investment, with very few exceptions.

By the time the cloud-first policy was officially put into effect, however, the state was already well on its way to migrating employees and contractors from 10 separate email systems onto G Suite. The primary driver wasn't cost, but security.

"We were really impressed with the G Suite toolset, and we felt it would enable us to collaborate better. We recognized that G Suite would help change the way people interact and work, rather than merely shifting their old methods and workflows to the cloud." - Doug Lange, State Chief Strategy Officer, State of Arizona

"We did a deep scan of approximately 800 servers and found some vulnerabilities," says Morgan Reed, State CIO at State of Arizona. "That's when we realized that if we partnered with the right cloud vendors, they could provide more robust security controls and do a better job of protecting our environment."

Arizona had already moved some employees from on-premises Exchange systems to Microsoft Office 365, but it did not meet the state's requirements for real-time collaboration and face-to-face video. The Governor's Office decided to standardize on G Suite instead.

"We were really impressed with the G Suite toolset, and we felt it would enable us to collaborate better," says Doug Lange, State Chief Strategy Officer at State of Arizona. "We recognized that G Suite would help change the way people interact and work, rather than merely shifting their old methods and workflows to the cloud."

Migrating 36,000 users to G Suite

Mike spoke with CISOs at other states that have widely adopted G Suite, to gather advice on how to conduct a successful migration and get the most benefit from G Suite. Ultimately, the State of Arizona decided to use G Suite in combination with Virtru, one of Google's Recommended Application Partners for encryption, and Okta Cloud Connect, which integrates G Suite with Active Directory/LDAP for fast and free single sign-on. To further improve security, the state now recommends that all employees use the Chrome web browser. The state also uses Vault for eDiscovery and to search open government records.

To migrate faster and mitigate risk, Arizona engaged SADA Systems, a Google Cloud Premier Partner, to lead the migration and oversee change management. SADA Systems collaborated with Virtru, Okta, and Google Cloud Professional Services for the rollout, resulting in a clean and coordinated approach. Arizona's state IT department of 135 users migrated first and never looked back. Approximately 2,000 administrative users migrated next, followed by major state agencies, for a total of 22,000 employees migrated in less than one year. Soon, Arizona will complete the rollout, bringing the count up to 36,000 state employees and contractors.

"Without SADA Systems and Google Cloud Professional Services, our migration to G Suite would not have been as fast or as successful. They have done a phenomenal job of coordinating resources where they were needed." - Heather Sheston, Google Statewide Program Manager, State of Arizona

Google Cloud Professional Services and SADA Systems served as Arizona's trusted advisors, managing the entire project from start to finish to help ensure the G Suite deployment ran smoothly for everyone in the organization. Google met twice a week with Arizona's Google Champions and IT teams to provide best practice recommendations, attended and advised on steering committee calls, coordinated go-live events, and assisted with internal marketing and change management activities for end users.

"Without SADA Systems and Google Cloud Professional Services, our migration to G Suite would not have been as fast or as successful," says Heather Sheston, Google Statewide Program Manager at State of Arizona. "They have done a phenomenal job of coordinating resources where they were needed."

Arizona concentrated on getting employees up and running with Gmail and Calendar first, in order to consolidate departments and agencies on a single email platform and a unified directory as quickly as possible. Although the state provided links to online training resources and hired interns to act as roaming "Googlers" and answer questions, most employees naturally adopted G Suite tools such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides. During and after the migration, there was very little disruption to the way people did their jobs; employees simply found ways to do them better.

"We found that most people already use Gmail and other G Suite apps in their personal lives, but our workforce wanted more advanced training," says Heather. "Especially with younger people coming in, they say, 'oh, cool, you're a G Suite shop.' They can get started working right away."

Foiling business email compromise

Every month 10 million spam messages are prevented from reaching Gmail customers. Because Gmail offers proactive protection, stopping business email compromise attacks by warning users or moving messages to spam, Arizona's computing environment is now much more secure. Mid-migration, the state was hit with a business email compromise that resulted in a bad actor sending out malicious emails from a state employee's account. When an employee who was not yet on Gmail received one of the suspicious emails, she immediately notified Mike. However, when he asked the employee to forward him the email for inspection, he noticed that Gmail had automatically identified and removed the malicious content.

"Gmail is much better than our previous malware filter," says Morgan. "The first month after we migrated, we ran the two systems in parallel. Gmail removed 107,000 malicious emails that the old system didn't catch."

Intuitive, real-time collaboration

"G Suite offers the security we need while also providing collaboration and productivity tools that have changed the way we work for the better. We expect that if we can get to a G Suite adoption rate of 80 percent across the entire state, Arizona could save a significant amount of money in just a few years." - Morgan Reed, State CIO, State of Arizona

Arizona has retired most of its departmental file servers, instead consolidating documents onto Drive, where all employees can easily access them if they have the proper credentials. Eliminating the need to purchase and manage file servers also significantly reduces IT CapEx and OpEx, allowing the state to shift that budget to other areas.

Employees are quickly adopting new ways of working, such as conducting face-to-face video meetings with Hangouts Meet and collaborating on documents in real time. When the state's data center briefly went down during a serious storm, employees simply worked from home using G Suite, and no productivity was lost. As Mike prepared to speak at Google Cloud NEXT in San Francisco, he was struck by how easy it was to finalize the presentation with other stakeholders the night before he left.

"With G Suite, I can be on a video call with four other people, and we can all make changes to a document or presentation at once," Says Doug. "With our previous system, that would have been impossible."

Supporting a cloud-first strategy

Arizona is always advancing its cloud strategy, and is now working to enhance compliance by taking advantage of new G Suite options for regionalizing data in the United States. It's also looking into ways to use video to provide more personalized customer service at various state agencies.

"G Suite offers the security we need while also providing collaboration and productivity tools that have changed the way we work for the better," says Morgan. "We expect that if we can get to a G Suite adoption rate of 80 percent across the entire state, Arizona could save a significant amount of money in just a few years."

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SADA Systems

SADA Systems is a Google Cloud Premier Partner with proven expertise in G Suite assessment and consultation, migration and deployment, user adoption, and change management.