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Thursday, April 7th, 2016

County pays $65K to add computer storage

By William Kincaid
CELINA - Mercer County's information technology department purchased additional computer storage at a cost of $65,181 since it was nearing capacity to hold critical data for all county agencies.
The IT department already purchased the 18 terabytes of extra storage along with maintenance and support from Sonit Systems with the approval of the county data-processing board made up of elected and appointed county officials.
Administrative clerk Kim Everman informed county commissioners the bill was due this week. Commissioners Jerry Laffin, Rick Muhlenkamp and Greg Homan then unanimously approved, after the fact, data systems manager Todd Highley's recommendation to purchase the computer storage.
The real estate assessment fund will cover $42,367 or 65 percent of the purchase price with the remaining cost paid from the county's general fund, according to officials.
Annual maintenance will cost $3,763.
Muhlenkamp asked if the county should have solicited bids since the price was more than the $50,000 threshold. Everman replied the Ohio Revised Code allows the county to use joint purchasing programs that exempt it from competitive bidding. In this case, GSA, the federal government's purchasing agent, was used.
"We typically use the state co-op program. We have not used GSA that often," she said, noting the data-processing board approved the purchase.
Highly told the newspaper he manages the day-to-day storage of county data, which have increased over the years due to the transmission and retention of digital records. This includes emails and scanned images, which in most cases are public documents that must be kept.
"We're just running out of storage," he said.
Computer storage, he said, has become more affordable over the years, allowing his department to purchase ample capacity for the next five years.
The new storage is large enough to contain all data residing on the county's main and secondary storage systems, according to Highley.
"Due to the compression and de-duplication technology it incorporates, the amount of total storage can be reduced by more than 45 percent," he wrote in a letter to the data-processing board. "It also will increase performance five to 10 times what we are currently experiencing."
The storage also is expandable, he said.
Every county department, Highley said, stores critical data. Much storage is taken up by real estate photos and the recorder's imaging system, he added.
According to the data-processing board meeting minutes, county auditor Randy Grapner said the real estate office has "new oblique and aerial photos that require a lot of storage."
"There are approximately 90,000 photos, and he does not eliminate any of the old photos due to being able to compare old photos with new photos for valuation purposes."
"The main storage array for the county is at 90 percent of maximum capacity," Highley wrote. "We have been closely monitoring it and have been moving older, less frequently accessed data off to the slower and much older secondary array, but it has come to a point where we can't move anything else without severely disrupting performance."
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