How Will the Industry Respond to the Shift to Hyperscale, Cloud, and Virtual Data Centers? Seattle IT’s Greg Smith Previews CAPRE’s Great Northwest Cloud Summit

SEATTLE, WA — Greg Smith is the Director for Technology Infrastructure, for Seattle IT. Seattle IT provides powerful technology solutions for the City of Seattle and the public we serve. Internally, we serve the more than 12,000 City employees in 29 departments and offices with enterprise application, network, server and phone support, desktop services, messaging, mobile computing and guest wireless. Seattle IT also maintain the City’s fiber program and the public safety radio system. Seattle IT also serves the public directly. Seattle IT regulates the three cable television providers operating in the city, maintains the City’s website and open data portal, data.seattle.gov. Greg will be a featured speaker at CAPRE’s Great Northwest Cloud Summit tomorrow, so we connected with him to chat about his perspective and his expectations.

CAPRE: Thanks for chatting with us today Greg. How do you characterize the activity you’re seeing in the Seattle and Pacific-Northwest market?

Smith: At the City of Seattle we are fortunate to be in the center of things with so many leading technology players in our own back yard. There’s definitely an emphasis on establishing strong relationships between partners and the City, and I’m seeing great engagement from private sector on this front.

To that end, Mayor Jenny Durkin has established an Innovation Advisory Council with many of those players involved. The goal is to have great ideas and input from these companies on how we might bring new and innovative services to the residents of Seattle through technology.

CAPRE: What is the most exciting thing to cross your radar recently? 

Smith: There’s so much to be excited about right now, but top-of-mind at the moment for me is machine learning and AIOps, which brings AI to the operations space with the goal of increasing rapid root-cause analysis and proactive issue resolution. Hopefully we can not only get better operational performance, but also free up those folks who have had to do that troubleshooting, so they can do more exciting and innovative work.

CAPRE: What is Seattle IT’s strategy as we head into 2020?

Smith: Seattle IT is a large public sector IT shop within a hot bed of technology. We have a new, dynamic CTO, Saad Bashir, who is laser-focused on evolving Seattle IT into a best-in-class digital services provider for the City, supporting our 30+ client departments in innovative, meaningful ways, and leading the way in terms of what is possible from public sector technology teams.

Our strategy for 2020 will be to deliver on a broad set of objectives with those goals in mind. It’s about the pillars of being connective and collaborative, being efficient and flexible, being modern and innovative. Yet, as a public sector service provider, we also need to be reliable and secure, as well as compliant with a keen focus on privacy. So we have to balance all of those things.

CAPRE: What are you looking forward to about the event?

Greg Smith, Director for Technology Infrastructure, Seattle Information Technology

Smith:  This will be my first CAPRE conference, so obviously I’m excited about that!  There will be a ton of folks there who are our partners today, and it is always interesting to meet and interact with new people who may be our partners in the future.

I’m very curious to see how the industry is adjusting to the trends in the conference title – the shift to hyperscale, the cloud, and virtual data centers. I’m interested to hear how our partner are adjusting and considering how it might affect their business.  I’ll be focusing on hybrid-enabling technologies, as well.

CAPRE What is the biggest challenge facing Seattle IT at the moment?

Smith: One of our biggest challenges is that over time we’ve fallen behind on our talent development. We have big goals, but we can’t achieve them without bringing our staff along so they can contribute to our best-in-class vision. We have a large workforce, and sometimes public sector employees aren’t always given the opportunities to grow their skills the way that private sector employees are, so we are placing a huge emphasis on this area.

This will be key as we look to increase the pace at which Seattle IT modernizes and innovates…in the People/Process/Technology triumvirate, people come first.

CAPRE: Indeed, that is a theme we hear from CAPRE Conference to CAPRE Conference. We are looking forward to hearing your and the Seattle community’s take on it.

Hear more from Greg on the Opening Keynote November 21, from 9:00 am – 9:30 am. His ‘Ask Me Anything’ with City of Seattle’s Director of Technology Infrastructure” session will touch on the following questions:

  • What is the overall vision for the City of Seattle when it comes to IT infrastructure?
  • How has your team dealt with the exponential increase of data generation within the last two years, and how are you bracing for even more of it?
  • Seattle has some of the world’s largest cloud players in the world headquartered here, how does that play into infrastructure demands and needs?
  • How far away is Edge Computing? How has the City of Seattle braced for this?
  • Does Seattle have a “smart city” strategy? What are somethings that could be labeled/identified as “smart” (examples: light poles, security measures, video surveillance cameras, weather systems, subway/buses/locomotives systems, first responder systems, natural disaster recovery systems, etc.)?
  • How have some of the residents of Seattle chimed in to make adjustments to the city dynamics as far as cost of living or technological asks, etc.?