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The Download - June 2015

IT Leadership Forum

Franklin County IT Leadership Forum and OCITA Spring Conference

By Ishreth Sameem, CIO, Franklin County Data Center

On Friday, May 8, the Ohio County/City Information Technology Association (OCITA) hosted the 2015 OCITA Spring Event. The primary objective of the conference was to expose more vendors, government organizations, and business entities to prevailing IT challenges, as well as to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas. As OCITA President and CIO of the Data Center, I felt it would be advantageous to incorporate the Franklin County IT Leadership Forum into this event. Combining these meetings would provide county IT leaders with the opportunity to learn about the benefits of being an OCITA member, as well as to collaborate with other IT professionals to address the challenges facing the IT world today.

The overarching theme of the day encompassed myriad aspects of cyber security, highlighting the steps organizations can take to protect their networks. The sessions provided a mix of private and public sector perspectives on cyber security, ultimately educating attendees on how to prepare for potential threats in their own environments. From a public sector viewpoint, attendees had the opportunity to hear from speakers at the federal, state, and local levels, with a cyber security specialist from the FBI serving as the keynote speaker. Presenters from the private sector offered new strategies to implement computer security on our networks and reviewed the cutting edge technologies used to support these strategies. Overall, the day was filled with information, discussion, and innovation, and I am extremely happy that all of the attendees had the opportunity to participate in such a great event.

Did You Know...

Annual Budget Process

Learn more about the goals of the 2015 Franklin County Budget IT Plan by watching a recording of the instructional meeting that was held on May 27 in the Data Center Auditorium.

Process Enhancements

Kaizen Event

By Nicole McKinney, Project Manager, Franklin County Data Center

Kaizen Event

The Franklin County Data Center is excited to host our first ever Kaizen event on June 11th and 18th. Kaizen is defined as the practice of continuous improvement and was first introduced to the West by Masaaki Imai in his book Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Successes. Masaaki further articulates the concept of Kaizen as being everyday improvement, everybody improvement, and everywhere improvement. One of the most notable features of Kaizen is idea that small changes accumulated over time equal big results. The Data Center will utilize this approach with cross-functional teams to improve our current processes in preparation for the implementation of the ServiceNow platform.

The Data Center will invite other Franklin County agencies to join us on the afternoon of June 18th to learn more about Kaizen and how it can help their agencies improve process. For more information, please contact Data Center Project Manager Nicole McKinney at ntmckinn@franklincountyohio.gov.

MSELA Committee Recommendations

MSELA Committee

As part of a Franklin County IT Leadership Forum initiative, a subcommittee was formed in early 2014 to review and make recommendations regarding the renewal of the county’s ongoing Microsoft Software Enterprise Licensing Agreement (MSELA) contract. Representatives from a number of Franklin County agencies researched to determine the best decision regarding the contract. This included the following endeavors: joining in discussions with Microsoft staff; analyzing industry information and Gartner recommendations; and engaging in a Microsoft Office 365 trial. After extensive research, the subcommittee proposed four recommendations:

  1. Continuation of software assurances on WinPro and CoreCal through the three-year MSELA agreement to ensure the persistence of essential services
  2. Discontinuation of software assurance on Office Pro Plus due to an anticipated movement away from required upgrades, which will result in savings of over $330,000 a year
  3. Participation of the Franklin County Treasurer’s Office in a Microsoft Office 365 pilot
  4. Participation of the Franklin County Court of Commons Pleas, General Division in a Microsoft Office 365 pilot

Ultimately, the subcommittee has performed essential, detailed analysis to ensure that Franklin County government is making an informed decision regarding the renewal of its ongoing MSELA contract. The Franklin County Office of Management and Budget (OMB) considered the subcommittee’s proposal and decided to move forward with its recommendations.

The impact to agencies as the result of these recommendations is with Microsoft Office. The County owns licenses through Office 2013, and all existing licenses can be upgraded up to that version without any additional cost. These licenses are also transferrable from existing workstations to replacement PCs. What agencies need to know is that, when purchasing new equipment for additional FTEs, a Microsoft Office license will need to be purchased prior to installation as well. Any licenses purchased in this fashion are non-transferrable or unable to be upgraded.

Project Updates

Microsoft Exchange 2013 Upgrade

By John Richards, Project Manager

Microsoft Exchange Upgrade

The Franklin County Data Center (FCDC) has completed the construction of a new Microsoft Exchange environment and will begin migrating FCDC employee mailboxes to the new Exchange 2013 environment in early June 2015. Contingent on a successful deployment within the FCDC, rollout to the other agencies will begin in late June 2015. The migration of all Franklin County agencies to Exchange 2013 is expected to be completed by early fall 2015.

Agencies have indicated through the 2013 Business Impact Assessment that, in the event of a disaster, email needs to be recovered first due to its critical nature in daily business. The current Exchange 2007 environment is outdated and does not support the security functions necessary for a quick and efficient recovery. Exchange 2013 will have high availability and disaster recovery (DR) from top to bottom. The Mailbox roles will be protected by Database Availability Groups, which replicate mailbox databases to other mailbox servers on-site and at the DR site. Mail flow will be protected by HA Barracuda firewalls and load balancers to ensure no single point of failures. The entire environment will have the ability to fail over to the DR site once it is set up and operational. Although this upgrade is not being performed for the purpose of increased user functionality, Exchange 2013 will provide additional benefits such as single sign-on, archive capability, and advanced functionality for mobile applications.

Microsoft Exchange largely serves as a foundational software that operates "behind the scenes" to support the Microsoft Outlook product. Although the changes are not entirely transparent to the end user, the migration team does not expect any significant impact on the day-to-day operations of a county Outlook customer. The FCDC will be sending a questionnaire to each agency to determine if there are any agency-specific Exchange / Outlook installation or use issues that will need to be addressed during the migration. In addition, the FCDC will be providing a fact sheet and user guide to assist with any changes that may be necessary due to the migration. The FCDC service desk will be trained and ready to help our agency partners with any issues that arise. Thank you for your cooperation as we continue to work on the upgrade.