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The Download - January 2015

Project Management

The Age-Old Question: What's in it for ME?

By Jason Sankey, Director, Program Management Office

If you are like me, and there were 25 hours in a day, you would still somehow find a way to fall behind. Since we are not fans of wasting time, why do we always seem to be playing catch up (emails, voicemails, projects, etc.)? The answer is not a surprise to you or me; however, we find ways to ignore it. Ultimately, it is because we have way too much on our plates. As such, in 2015, one resolution for me will be to stop piling on more "stuff" and to focus on quality over quantity. As I go through this journey, I want to share some opportunities that provide value if you are looking at ways to become more efficient as well.

The Ohio County / City Information Technology Association (OCITA) is an organization that provides an opportunity for individuals in government IT to leverage thought leadership, information, knowledge, and resources. The major benefit for members is exposure to an extensive networking community, which provides a platform to enable you to ask questions, exchange ideas, and learn new technology. Value ranges from exposure to organizational process assets to leveraging cooperative purchasing opportunities. This means you do not always have to start from scratch—the work already has been done by other members of the OCITA community. Through their experiences, valuable lessons have been learned and best practices have been established. Through this avenue, all you have to do is leverage the hard work already completed by your peers. That sounds like a quality-driven resolution to me!

In December 2014, at the most recent OCITA meeting (hosted by the State of Ohio), topics included:

  • Hosted VoIP
  • Virtualization Program
  • Office 365
  • Cooperative Purchasing Program
  • ServiceNow
  • Available Contracts
  • Geospatial Information Services
  • OARnet License Opportunities
  • Security Improvements
  • Enterprise Shared Solutions
  • Data Center Co-Location Services

As you kick off 2015 and decide what organizations you want to occupy part of your "25 hour day," I encourage you to take a look at OCITA and the potential benefits it provides. For more information, please contact Max Starner at mpstarne@franklincountyohio.gov or visit the organization’s website at http://ocita.org/.

Tech Corner

Franklin County Law Library Video Tour

The Data Center would like recognize the successes of the Franklin County Law Library. Under the leadership of Director Angela Baldree, the Law Library moved forward with several accomplishments in 2014. These achievements included a new web site, a comprehensive research site entitled "Lib Guides," and, most importantly, a move to a new location on the 10th floor of the 369 South High Street. In this new environment, the Law Library offers customers a full range of services in a comfortable setting. Take a look as Director Baldree leads us on a video tour of the library.

Project Updates

SharePoint Upgrade

By Eric Lauterbach, Project Manager

Earlier this year, the Data Center launched a project to upgrade our Microsoft SharePoint service from its legacy 2007 version to an up-to-date 2013 version. Completing this initiative will make a wide variety of improvements and new features available to the Data Center's partner agencies, meaning end users will have exciting new ways to share their work, collaborate with others, organize projects and teams, and discover other people and information within the system. The new service will be rebranded as "FranklinConnect."

The project team successfully deployed new staging and production environments in November. Having those environments available allowed the team to migrate some of our smaller site collections into the new staging area for testing and agency evaluation. A few of the larger and more customized collections—such as those maintained by the Clerk of Courts and the Treasurer’s Office—present more of a challenge, however, and require more oversight. The Data Center asked agencies to evaluate their staging sites beginning on November 24, and the feedback thus far has been positive. Once agency administrators are fully satisfied with the functionality of their new sites, we will begin moving their sites into the updated production environment during off-peak hours.

To advance the SharePoint initiative and continue testing, the project team will move the Data Center’s site collection onto the production environment during the weekend of December 20-21. Assuming that everything progresses as planned, this will be our first new SharePoint 2013 site, as well as a solid step toward the retirement of the aging 2007 service.

Franklin County Disaster Recovery

By Tonya Kahley, Project Manager

The Franklin County Data Center (FCDC) is dedicated to providing superior customer service to all Franklin County agencies. In 2014, the Data Center chartered three high priority projects, one of which will continue during 2015—the Disaster Recovery Plan and Site Relocation Project. This project is comprised of two main parts: 1) revision and improvement to the Franklin County Data Center’s Disaster Recovery Plan; and 2) relocation of the county disaster recovery site to a new facility.

In 2013, the Data Center completed the Disaster Recovery Strategic Plan of Action. Through this effort, FCDC and a vendor conducted a Business Impact Assessment (BIA) with countywide agencies to determine disaster recovery needs for core services/systems. Through the BIA process, it was determined that the core needs to support our countywide agencies were for email, website redundancy, and data management in the event of a disaster occurring in the county. As a component of this project's Part 1, the FCDC Disaster Recovery Plan was updated to reflect the core systems necessary to support our countywide agencies.

As a result of recognizing these countywide agency needs through the BIA, the second part of FCDC's project is the relocation of the disaster recovery site from its current location to a new state-of-the-art facility. The Franklin County Data Board and the Board of County Commissioners decided that moving the current FCDC disaster recovery site from Strawberry Farms to a new facility would be beneficial to the county. The Data Board and Board of Commissioners supported the migration to the new WeConnect Data Center, owned by the City of Westerville, to serve as the Disaster Recovery site for the county.

In 2014, FCDC designed and implemented the vital network infrastructure in the WeConnect facility. This ensures that, in the event the primary data center at the County Courthouse is unavailable, Franklin County will have access to the required countywide agency systems in an environment with automatic failover.

During 2015, as FCDC completes the build-out of the new disaster recovery site, the planned functionality includes:

System Redundancy

  • FCDC will be installing VM Ware Site Recovery Manager (SRM) 5.5 on a new Unified Computer System (UCS) server platform at WeConnect. This will mirror what is in place at the FCDC primary data center in the Courthouse and will automate the failover/failback of virtual servers between the two data centers. This will ensure that the county email, websites, and other critical systems will be available from the DR data center if the primary data center at the Courthouse becomes unavailable.

Data Management

  • FCDC has developed a plan to move away from tape back-ups, opting instead to utilize disk back-ups at the Courthouse data center with the DR data center as the off-site digital storage environment. This ensures that data back-ups can be completed through the 10 GB data connection between the Courthouse and DR data centers, and that they will be available for restoring data from the DR data center to the Courthouse systems.
  • FCDC will be installing CommVault software with attached Nimble storage at the primary and DR data centers for data back-ups.

Digital Information Security

  • In Part 2 of this project, FCDC will place a new Cisco ASA firewall and DMZ in the network infrastructure at the DR location. This will address security vulnerabilities in the event the systems failover to the DR data center.
  • Additionally, FCDC will be implementing Dell SecureWorks Intrusion Prevention System (IPS). Through this effort, iSensors will be placed into the primary and DR data centers to protect the network from harmful traffic and hackers that may try to evade the firewalls.

Once the Data Center has completed the build of the infrastructure, implemented tapeless back-ups, configured storage, configured the server environment to be mirrored for failover, and ensured security is in place at the DR data center, FCDC will begin working with county agencies who are interested in having their DR systems housed at WeConnect.

Did You Know...

Gartner Top 10 Technology Trends for 2015

By Brittany Harnish, Technical Writer / Web Developer

Gartner, Inc., the renowned IT research and consultation organization, annually compiles a list of the top 10 technology trends for the upcoming year. For 2015, the focus is on the ubiquity of information, the confluence of digital and tangible environments, and the increased role of technology in business. The 2015 trends, as determined by Gartner, are as follows:

  1. Computing Everywhere—the abundance of mobile devices
  2. The Internet of Things—the progression beyond a narrower definition of the Internet to accommodate the four archetypes of Internet usage
  3. 3D Printing—the burgeoning use of printers to create three-dimensional objects
  4. Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics—the growing emphasis on data analysis
  5. Context-Rich Systems—the development of more systems that have the ability to react intelligently to user requests
  6. Smart Machines—the creation of machines that possess intelligence and are capable of responding logically and independently to their surroundings
  7. Cloud/Client Computing—the design of applications that can support content synchronization and functionality spanning multiple devices
  8. Software-Defined Applications and Infrastructure—the growing emphasis on dynamic application development
  9. Web-Scale IT—the increased focus of businesses on computing at a global level
  10. Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection—the importance of adopting more complex security measures to handle the continual shifts in IT

Ultimately, the nature of information technology is constantly evolving. As more advances are made in IT, enterprises must leverage the ability to reach a wider audience through multiple platforms effectively in order to remain relevant and prosperous in an increasingly global market. At first glance, some of these trends may seem far-removed from the daily operations of Franklin County government. As is often the situation with technology, however, what is esoteric today becomes omnipresent tomorrow. In 2015, it may be worthwhile to watch these trends and consider which ones potentially could enhance your business model and provide your agency with the most advantageous, advanced way to serve the citizens of Franklin County.

Source:
Gartner, Inc. “Gartner Identifies the Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015.” Gartner, Inc. press release, October 8, 2014. Gartner, Inc. website. http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/2867917, accessed December 18, 2014.