Jumpstarting the day at a local Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee often comes with more than a kick of caffeine for Jon Walton. Whenever people realize he’s the chief information officer of San Mateo County, one of the most tech-savvy places in the U.S., they unabashedly bend Walton’s ear about startups or investments they believe could benefit their hometowns. Sometimes it’s just small talk about car racing.
Most morning earfuls provoke a friendly head nod or handshake from Walton, who runs IT across the bustling peninsula between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. His organization is responsible for all countywide core IT services for public safety, healthcare, public works and traditional government applications.
Occasionally he’s given the kind of advice a CIO might otherwise pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for from big-name consulting firms.
“Local residents teach me a lot about where big investments are being made and what new technologies are gaining traction or dying off,” Walton said. A Fortuitous TipA cafe visit in 2014 led Walton to a then-nascent technology called hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) from Nutanix.
“Meeting Steve Kaplan in downtown Redwood City spurred a conversation about the future of combined computer and storage technologies,” he said, referring to the vice president of customer success finance at Nutanix.
"It was timely, given the need of the county to upgrade an entire data center of obsolete technology.”
That piece of advice spurred Walton and his team to explore this emerging trend and gained the county a simplified, cost-effective way to scale his aging storage and server infrastructure.