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The Download - May 2014

Welcome

In our continuing efforts to improve communication, enhance service delivery, and offer greater transparency, the Franklin County Data Center is excited to present the inaugural issue of our monthly e-newsletter. We are embracing this medium as another avenue to provide you with relevant information regarding Data Center project updates, changes to our service catalog, and new technological innovations. Look for our newsletter once a month to keep informed on the status of projects, modifications to our processes, and reports regarding the continually evolving nature of IT. Each newsletter will contain links to more in-depth articles on our website, which will allow you to further research the topics that interest you.

We welcome your feedback on this new endeavor. Please let us know if you would like us to address a particular topic, prefer that the newsletter offer more or less content, or if you would like to opt out of the e-newsletter mailing list. We believe that you will find this publication to be an engaging, convenient way for you to remain informed on the Data Center products and services that are relevant to you and your agency. We hope you enjoy!

Thank you,

Shirley Stephens
Business Services Manager
614-525-7472
Shirley.Stephens@franklincountyohio.gov
373 S. High Street, 9th Floor
Columbus, OH 43215
Franklin County Data Center

Process Enhancements

Intake Process Enhancements

As we continue to streamline the intake process, we have incorporated two additional enhancements: Project Requests and Operations Report Printing Requests.

Project Requests

The Data Center will be implementing a minor change to streamline the process for requesting a new project. Project Request Forms will no longer be available on the Portal or in the LINK system. All project requests will now go directly to the Customer Service Center (CSC) at CSC@franklincountyohio.gov for intake processing. As a result of this change, we are asking all agencies to contact CSC directly to start the project request process. Please include your business need, justification, impact, and scope of services in your request. You will promptly receive a confirmation following submission. CSC will assign your request to a member of our Project Delivery team, who will be in contact with you shortly to prepare the Project Charter for approval. If additional information is required to evaluate your request, we will forward a link for you to complete a Project Request Form. Thank you for your cooperation in our efforts to improve our project delivery process.

Operations Report Printing Requests

The Data Center is also including printing requests that are handled by the Operations team in our refined intake process, which involves a single point of contact. Streamlining all requests allows for proper monitoring and measurements, as well as ensures that you as the customer will be given the appropriate service. As such, please send all Operations printing requests to CSC at CSC@franklincountyohio.gov. The Customer Service team will create a ticket and route it accordingly. As with any other request, you will be able to monitor its progress through the HEAT Tracker application and you will receive a customer satisfaction survey once it has been completed.

Heat Tracker

In our continuing efforts to improve our customer service delivery, we are testing a system that will allow our customers to track and monitor their HEAT requests. This solution is web-based and will be available to all agency users with an established Portal account. It will provide you and your agencies with complete transparency regarding your requests. Look for future notification once this goes live. If you would like to be a tester of the HEAT Tracker application, please contact Shirley Stephens at 525-7472 or email to Shirley.Stephens@frankincountyohio.gov.

Retired Environments

With county devices no longer depending on the Blackberry Environment, the Data Center has recently fully retired the BAS. In addition to the BAS, the dialup environment (ASS300) has been disabled.

If you have any issues or questions regarding the retirement of these environments, please contact Mark Ludwig at 525-5933 or email to maludwig@franklincountyohio.gov.

Project Updates

Are We There Yet?

With the April 8th deadline approaching for migration from Windows XP, the Project Delivery team rolled up their sleeves and gave a strong push to ensure this project was completed on time. As the first project of its kind, the XP migration certainly had its fair share of obstacles along the way. Once we officially close this project, we will coordinate an audit (which will include select agencies) to capture organizational process assets that we can leverage for potential similar projects in the future.

Currently the team is working to reconcile the complete list of deployments and upgrades in order to close out this initiative. Please be patient and continue to provide information and assistance to the project team as they work to conclude the final stages of this project.

Thank you for your cooperation throughout the migration.

Putting It All Together

The Data Center continues to move forward with Disaster Recovery (DR), Network Redundancy & Reliability (NRR), Security, Web Re-architecture, and 19 other related technology-mandatory projects.

We are now in the process of aligning these initiatives to ensure we are developing the right overall architecture to adequately support the county network. We are reviewing the overall design and preparing the final business case to move forward with the remaining efforts.

Keeping Franklin County Secure

FCDC remains committed to securing our network by addressing all vulnerabilities in order to eliminate potential threats. In a recent security assessment, the following items were identified as possible compromises to our security:

  • The need for a DMZ in network infrastructure
  • Operating Systems and Applications configured with default administrator credentials
  • Unnecessary ports exposed to the Internet
  • Unpatched Operating Systems and 3rd party software
  • Data injection into websites
  • Lack of enforcement of necessary Security Policies

58 different vulnerabilities were identified, of which 54 have been addressed, leaving 4 remaining (including the DMZ). In addition, results for three agencies are still pending. Our next step will be to analyze the remaining security needs and document a proposal to be presented to the Board of Commissioners later this month as they review our remaining budget requests.

On the Horizon

We are moving forward with documenting project charters and requirements for our 2nd quarter initiatives, including SharePoint upgrade, an enterprise workflow solution, and Exchange Server upgrade. More details to follow as we proceed with these projects.

Did You Know...

Gartner: Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014

Gartner's top 10 technology trends for 2014 include both enhancements to existing technologies and completely new developments. These strategic trends are expected to have a major impact on companies over the next three years. According to Gartner, the top trends will continue to be social media, mobile, and cloud computing.

The following information was obtained from: Gartner, Inc. “Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2014.” Gartner, Inc. press release, October 8, 2013. Gartner, Inc. website. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2603623, accessed April 24, 2014.

Mobile Device Diversity and Management

Through 2018, the growing variety of devices, computing styles, user contexts and interaction paradigms will make “everything everywhere” strategies unachievable. The unexpected consequence of bring your own device (BYOD) programs is a doubling or even tripling of the size of the mobile workforce. This is placing tremendous strain on IT and Finance organizations. Enterprise policies on employee-owned hardware usage need to be thoroughly reviewed and, where necessary, updated and extended. Most companies only have policies for employees accessing their networks through devices that the enterprise owns and manages. Set policies to define clear expectations around what they can and can't do. Balance flexibility with confidentiality and privacy requirements

Mobile Apps and Applications

Gartner predicts that through 2014, improved JavaScript performance will begin to push HTML5 and the browser as a mainstream enterprise application development environment. Gartner recommends that developers focus on creating expanded user interface models including richer voice and video that can connect people in new and different ways. Apps will continue to grow while applications will begin to shrink. Apps are smaller, and more targeted, while a larger application is more comprehensive. Developers should look for ways to snap together apps to create larger applications. Building application user interfaces that span a variety of devices require an understanding of fragmented building blocks and an adaptable programming structure that assembles them into optimized content for each device. The market for tools to create consumer and enterprise facing apps is complex with well over 100 potential tools vendors. For the next few years no single tool will be optimal for all types of mobile application so expect to employ several. The next evolution in user experience will be to leverage intent, inferred from emotion and actions, to motivate changes in end-user behavior.

The Internet of Everything

The Internet is expanding beyond PCs and mobile devices into enterprise assets such as field equipment, and consumer items such as cars and televisions. The problem is that most enterprises and technology vendors have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready. Imagine digitizing the most important products, services and assets. The combination of data streams and services created by digitizing everything creates four basic usage models – Manage; Monetize; Operate; Extend. These four basic models can be applied to any of the four “internets” (people, things, information and places). Enterprises should not limit themselves to thinking that only the Internet of Things (i.e., assets and machines) has the potential to leverage these four models. Enterprises from all industries (heavy, mixed, and weightless) can leverage these four models.

Hybrid Cloud and IT as Service Broker

Bringing together personal clouds and external private cloud services is an imperative. Enterprises should design private cloud services with a hybrid future in mind and make sure future integration/interoperability is possible. Hybrid cloud services can be composed in many ways, varying from relatively static to very dynamic. Managing this composition will often be the responsibility of something filling the role of cloud service broker (CSB), which handles aggregation, integration and customization of services. Enterprises that are expanding into hybrid cloud computing from private cloud services are taking on the CSB role. Terms like “overdrafting” and “cloudbursting” are often used to describe what hybrid cloud computing will make possible. However, the vast majority of hybrid cloud services will initially be much less dynamic than that. Early hybrid cloud services will likely be more static, engineered compositions (such as integration between an internal private cloud and a public cloud service for certain functionality or data). More deployment compositions will emerge as CSBs evolve (for example, private infrastructure as a service [IaaS] offerings that can leverage external service providers based on policy and utilization).

Cloud/Client Architecture

Cloud/client computing models are shifting. In the cloud/client architecture, the client is a rich application running on an Internet-connected device, and the server is a set of application services hosted in an increasingly elastically scalable cloud computing platform. The cloud is the control point and system or record and applications can span multiple client devices. The client environment may be a native application or browser-based; the increasing power of the browser is available to many client devices, mobile and desktop alike. Robust capabilities in many mobile devices, the increased demand on networks, the cost of networks and the need to manage bandwidth use creates incentives, in some cases, to minimize the cloud application computing and storage footprint, and to exploit the intelligence and storage of the client device. However, the increasingly complex demands of mobile users will drive apps to demand increasing amounts of server-side computing and storage capacity.

The Era of Personal Cloud

The personal cloud era will mark a power shift away from devices toward services. In this new world, the specifics of devices will become less important for the organization to worry about, although the devices will still be necessary. Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role. Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared from the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself.

Software Defined Anything

Software-defined anything (SDx) is a collective term that encapsulates the growing market momentum for improved standards for infrastructure programmability and data center interoperability driven by automation inherent to cloud computing, DevOps and fast infrastructure provisioning. As a collective, SDx also incorporates various initiatives like OpenStack, OpenFlow, the Open Compute Project and Open Rack, which share similar visions. As individual SDx technology silos evolve and consortiums arise, look for emerging standards and bridging capabilities to benefit portfolios, but challenge individual technology suppliers to demonstrate their commitment to true interoperability standards within their specific domains. While openness will always be a claimed vendor objective, different interpretations of SDx definitions may be anything but open. Vendors of SDN (network), SDDC (data center), SDS (storage), and SDI (infrastructure) technologies are all trying to maintain leadership in their respective domains, while deploying SDx initiatives to aid market adjacency plays. So vendors who dominate a sector of the infrastructure may only reluctantly want to abide by standards that have the potential to lower margins and open broader competitive opportunities, even when the consumer will benefit by simplicity, cost reduction and consolidation efficiency.

Web-Scale IT

Web-scale IT is a pattern of global-class computing that delivers the capabilities of large cloud service providers within an enterprise IT setting by rethinking positions across several dimensions. Large cloud services providers such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc., are re-inventing the way IT in which IT services can be delivered. Their capabilities go beyond scale in terms of sheer size to also include scale as it pertains to speed and agility. If enterprises want to keep pace, then they need to emulate the architectures, processes and practices of these exemplary cloud providers. Gartner calls the combination of all of these elements Web-scale IT. Web-scale IT looks to change the IT value chain in a systemic fashion. Data centers are designed with an industrial engineering perspective that looks for every opportunity to reduce cost and waste. This goes beyond re-designing facilities to be more energy efficient to also include in-house design of key hardware components such as servers, storage and networks. Web-oriented architectures allows developers to build very flexible and resilient systems that recover from failure more quickly.

Smart Machines

Through 2020, the smart machine era will blossom with a proliferation of contextually aware, intelligent personal assistants, smart advisors (such as IBM Watson), advanced global industrial systems and public availability of early examples of autonomous vehicles. The smart machine era will be the most disruptive in the history of IT. New systems that begin to fulfill some of the earliest visions for what information technologies might accomplish — doing what we thought only people could do and machines could not —are now finally emerging. Gartner expects individuals will invest in, control and use their own smart machines to become more successful. Enterprises will similarly invest in smart machines. Consumerization versus central control tensions will not abate in the era of smart-machine-driven disruption. If anything, smart machines will strengthen the forces of consumerization after the first surge of enterprise buying commences.

3-D Printing

Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 75 percent in 2014 followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015. While very expensive “additive manufacturing” devices have been around for 20 years, the market for devices ranging from $50,000 to $500, and with commensurate material and build capabilities, is nascent yet growing rapidly. The consumer market hype has made organizations aware of the fact 3D printing is a real, viable and cost-effective means to reduce costs through improved designs, streamlined prototyping and short-run manufacturing.