California county keeps IT juiced up
- By Trudy Walsh
- Jun 26, 2002
"The PeopleSoft integration project came in on time and under budget at $52 million. For $5 million more, the county got an integrated enterprise system."
'CIO Steve Reneker said.
(GCN Photo by Tim Rue/Sara Corbis)
Riverside County, Calif., residents began growing navel oranges in the late 1800s. For years, the county was the nation's top producer of the fruit, until high water prices forced farmers to move.
But water is not the only resource that is sometimes scarce in the county. Funding for technology has also gone through periods of drought, said county CIO Steve Reneker. The county's IT Department has managed to fund several innovative projects by charging for the services it provides to county departments, schools and nonprofit organizations.
The money drought is a worry, however. Trickle-down economics works both ways'not only in spreading the wealth but spreading the woe as well. California's recent budget crunch has hurt spending at the county levels.
For example, Riverside County owns 250 miles of dark fiber'fiber-optic cable that is not being used to transmit data, Reneker said. Funding shortfalls prevent the county from using the cable to increase the speed of its WAN. Instead, Riverside runs the WAN on leased lines.
'A lot of the things we'd like to do'converge our networks and broadcast board meetings over the Web'we don't have the bandwidth to support,' Reneker said.
Riverside's IT Department is an internal service fund. It stays in existence because of the rates the department charges its customers. Every county department is a customer, as are many cities and schools. The department hosts customers' Web sites and provides them with help desk services.The golden state
To afford to use the dark fiber, the department would have to increase its rates by 300 percent, Reneker said. 'Obviously, we'd lose customers,' he said. 'We have to stay competitive with the marketplace.'
Despite the funding obstacles, the county has had its share of IT successes. Officials recently revamped the county's data center with new enterprise storage and backup systems, a storage area network, backup generators and an uninterruptible power supply. Fifty percent of the revenue to support the data center comes from the department's Web hosting services.
This month, the county is rolling out the final enterprise resource planning modules for the Online Administrative Services Information System.
The countywide OASIS, which uses software from PeopleSoft Inc. of Pleasanton, Calif., consolidates a dozen financial systems and four different payroll systems, Reneker said.
'We were going to spend $47 million on disparate systems anyway,' he said.
The PeopleSoft integration project, which came in on time and under budget at $52 million. For $5 million more, the county got an integrated enterprise system, Reneker said.
Six months ago, the department opened a new network operations center that uses Hewlett-Packard Co.'s OpenView enterprise monitoring software to resolve trouble calls 24 hours a day, Reneker said.
The county had a scary brush with a hacker attack on its Web site in May 2001.
The site, at www.co.riverside.ca.us
, was shut down for two days by an attack that was traced back to China. It occurred at the same time as similar attacks on federal Web sites.
The county is hiring a chief information security officer who will implement a security program that includes a virtual private network, intrusion detection systems, enhanced firewall and virus protection services, and enforced security audits.
Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.