By Gwendolyn Simmons, CTO, Mecklenburg County Government
Gwendolyn Simmons, CTO, Mecklenburg County Government
Mecklenburg County received the 2013 Digital Government Achievement Award for its 1:1 One Person, One Device initiative. This initiative replaces laptop, desktop, and mobile devices, and gives mobile workers a Surface Pro tablet. This program has saved the county $3.2 million in productivity cost avoidance. By enabling mobile workers with a tablet, the county is better suited to provide much needed services to the citizens of Mecklenburg County. We have rolled this out to our Youth and Family Services, Restaurant Inspections, Medical Examiner, and Parks and Recreation. Gone are the days when workers recorded information on paper, returned to the office and entered the information. By enabling the mobile workers with a mobile hot spot and the Surface Pro, information is recorded in real time.
In October, we moved our SharePoint Intranet web site from a hosted on premise provider, to SharePoint online. During the move we upgraded to SharePoint 2013, and developed new work flows that enabled our internal customers to be more agile in updating important information. In December we took advantage of a program that Microsoft had. We purchased 50 TB of storage in Azure, and received a StorSimple device. This device is an iSCSI device that acts as a “proxy box of disks”. The device is designed to store files on premise, and when not being used move the files to Azure. This device has enabled us to move our document imaging repository of 8 TB from on premise storage at $21.00 per GB to Azure at .03 cents per GB.
We are also moving our disaster recovery site from its location in Raleigh to Azure. We are moving our top ten Tier 1 applications to Azure. Since we only pay for egress of data, it is expected to save the county thousands of dollars in data center rental fees, and circuit fees.
Our successful implementation of Office 365 last year is what gave Mecklenburg County the confidence to look at, and implement other Microsoft offerings. Gone are the days of “email jail” for our employees, as each employee enjoys a 50 GB mail box. Couple that with 1 TB of storage with OneDrive for Business, and five licenses of Office 2013 Professional for each employee to use as needed and it was a win for everyone. By leveraging the tiered licensing options with Office 365 we are able to contain our licensing costs by providing full time county employees different license SKU, compared to non-county employees.
Mecklenburg County’s three year contract with Microsoft for Office 365 services is $4.2 Mn. If we were to build out the infrastructure on premises, exclusive of unlimited archiving, it would have come at a cost of $9.4 Mn.
Our partnership with Microsoft has enabled Mecklenburg County to drastically reduce and streamline the offerings to our customers. We are constantly working with Microsoft to leverage new technology as they become available. The next big initiative will be moving to their Enterprise Mobility Suite. This will allow us to manage non domain joined devices effortlessly.