Brown County, S.D., to Move Forward on IT Director Position

Commissioners agreed to hire an information technology director rather than running a network assessment. That decision complements the replacement of a series of switches within the network.

by Elisa Sand, American News / March 23, 2020
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(TNS) — Brown County, S.D., commissioners agreed not to move forward with a network assessment and instead hire an information technology director.

They have also directed county information technology staff to get quotes from outside vendors so necessary equipment updates are made as soon as possible.

That includes the replacement of a series of switches within the network.

After Tuesday's meeting, Kent Jones, interim public safety IT director, said the switches are essentially the backbone of the county's network.

Shawn Schnabel, one of two technicians in the IT Department, told commissioners the switches have been purchased and are waiting for installation, but the process includes programming and time he and the other county technician don't have as they are continuously troubleshooting technology issues.

Part of those issues, he said, is the limiting processing power with the existing system. For example, he said, county offices remotely connect to the server through a virtual desktop infrastructure. Jones described the virtual desktops as a network connection to a server, as opposed to each computer having its own hard drive.

Schnabel said if county employees have difficulty logging in and restart their computer, it doesn't stop all the programs that are loading for the connection. As a result, if multiple employees restart, eventually the system is bogged down. With the system setup that's in place right now, he said, he's refreshing the connections on a weekly basis.

Schnabel said the new switches will provide 10 times the existing processing capability and greatly improve the network.

Commissioner Doug Fjeldheim said the switches were purchased in April 2019.

By the end of the meeting, Fjeldheim and the rest of the board had directed Schnabel to get bids from companies that can help with the equipment installation.

Schnabel said most of the needs within the county's IT infrastructure are known, so he did not recommend an assessment. So commissioners tabled the idea they had previously discussed.

The decision to hire an IT manager was part of the county's human resources report.

Jones said he's hoping to have issues with Spillman, the emergency response system, resolved soon.

The root issue, he said, came down to the replacement of hardware that was using firmware that wasn't compatible. As a result, the 12 hard drives within the server have had to be cloned.

©2020 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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