2020 wave of obsolescence looms over county tech

Adding new components to existing computer networks at the Idaho County Courthouse has, over time, resulted in a mess of cables.

Idaho County Commissioners have a big ticket queued up for Tuesday, April 9, when the board will discuss and decide what to do about aging computer technology as a wave of obsolescence looms in 2020.

Grangeville-owned, Meridian-based CompuNet, Inc., presented a $243,000 overhaul proposal to the commissioners last week.

“Everything in our proposal represents an existing system that you own today that needs to be replaced or updated,” Dominic Ponozzo of CompuNet told the commissioners. “We’re not bringing in new systems with this proposal. We’re not bringing in things that don’t exist. We’re talking about upgrades and replacing of end-of-life equipment.”

The proposal follows in part from a change in the computer hardware required by the county law enforcement software contractor, Utah-based Spillman Technologies. It also follows from the January 2020 end of Microsoft support for other parts of the existing county business network.

Starting in 2020, the county’s existing IBM hardware will no longer be able to support Spillman’s application. During the April 2 commission meeting, Idaho County Sheriff’s Office personnel stated estimates to simply replace the IBM hardware have ranged from $21,000 to $46,000.

That would leave the county’s backroom computers organized in essentially the same way they are now.

But according to CompuNet’s proposal, the systems could be organized in a way that would run the county’s general business software and the law enforcement specialty software in a substantially more reliable way.

The county’s server hardware setups currently operate independently of each other – so if a part of it goes down, the other could not fill in. The CompuNet proposal would consolidate the server hardware into three physical server blades within a single server chassis accompanied by a 9.6 terabyte storage array, which would allow the county’s Spillman and business software to continue operating even in case one of the physical servers goes out – whether planned or unplanned. Converting the separate server systems into a single data center carries a proposed price tag of nearly $136,000, not including server operating system licenses, network switching upgrade or putting the Spillman software on the new hardware.

“The current county business servers are aged, lack redundancy, and [lack] scalability options that we encourage for all our customers,” CompuNet’s proposal explains in part. “This proposal results in a single highly available and redundant data center to meet all the current and future county application needs. A single system will incur less capital costs for initial purchase, lower ongoing maintenance and operation costs, consume less power and AC, produce less noise, [while] being easier to manage and secure.”

CompuNet, which Nolan Schoo founded in Grangeville in 1998, also proposes to address a problem ICSO personnel brought to the April 2 meeting: a need to reorganize a desktop sprawl of sensitive switching equipment and cables in the sheriff’s office.

CompuNet’s proposal put forward estimates of a bit more than $79,000 to carry out the network switching and cabling changes, about $24,000 to keep up current licensing for the county’s local Microsoft servers and backups, and $3,300 plus subscription to set up cloud-based Microsoft e-mail. Including the data center, the various parts total $242,495.

Questions remain to be answered

Look for the Idaho County Commission’s discussion of CompuNet’s $243,000 proposal on Tuesday, April 9, to cover: whether a consolidated county data center is truly needed; whether the county needs to hear from other vendors; and, whether or how much the commissioners may fit into the county’s overall budget by trimming related technology expenses from multiple departments.

“We just had to get all of our microfiche updated and digitized in the recorder’s cffice,” commissioner Denis Duman told the Free Press April 8. “That pretty much used up the storage we had left. The long range goal is to get that whole vault digitized – drawings, documents, everything – digitized and online.”

“It’s not as overwhelming as you’d think,” Duman added. “But obviously we can’t do any of that if we don’t have the storage and computing space for it. That’s one thing this would answer also: It would have that capability and storage space.”

Though consolidating the county’s servers could have implications for many local systems, some – such as the systems for licensing drivers and registering motor vehicles – are governed by state contracts. Storage of that information is carried out at the state level and would not be affected.

For instance, Idaho County court records – indeed, court records statewide – have already been digitized; this was completed last year under a state contract for the Odyssey system Tyler Technologies implemented statewide last year.

“We just had to get all of our microfiche updated and digitized in the recorder’s cffice,” commissioner Denis Duman told the Free Press April 8. “That pretty much used up the storage we had left. The long range goal is to get that whole vault digitized – drawings, documents, everything – digitized and online.”

“It’s not as overwhelming as you’d think,” Duman added. “But obviously we can’t do any of that if we don’t have the storage and computing space for it. That’s one thing this would answer also: It would have that capability and storage space.”

Though consolidating the county’s servers could have implications for many local systems, some – such as the systems for licensing drivers and registering motor vehicles – are governed by state contracts. Storage of that information is carried out at the state level and would not be affected.

For instance, Idaho County court records – indeed, court records statewide – have already been digitized; this was completed last year under a state contract for the Odyssey system Tyler Technologies implemented statewide last year.

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