Northumberland County, in central Pennsylvania, boasts 90,000 people and a history that dates back to the 18th century. But it was facing a host of 21st century problems with outdated processes and systems that needed to be addressed.
County managers had ongoing flood management and protection concerns around its data center, given the county’s location on the banks of the Susquehanna River, one of the country’s longest rivers and most flood-prone watersheds. Other pressing issues were the county’s aging, legacy IT infrastructure, which was at 80% capacity, and its tape-based data protection system and paper-dependent processes.
These limitations were impacting workforce productivity and the efficiency and effectiveness of county services, as well as their ability to comply with data retention and protection policies. County Commissioner Steven Bridy said he “wasn’t convinced that revamping our data center would be the best use of taxpayer dollars.” So he began looking at other options.
Northumberland County worked with one of NetApp’s leading managed services providers on a solution that enabled the migration to a hybrid cloud infrastructure in which the county only pays for the IT services it needs. The solution included a fully managed hybrid cloud offering using NetApp Private Storage for Amazon Web Services (AWS). The data storage was provided by NetApp Private Storage systems hosted at Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) data centers, with a direct connection to AWS via the Equinix Cloud Exchange™. As soon as Northumberland extended its IT capabilities into Equinix with NetApp and AWS, it realized the following benefits:
Flexibility and Scalability
The solution enabled the county to securely pick and choose the cloud services it needed and leverage scalable public cloud compute resources, while maintaining complete control over its data.
Security and Control
With their applications replicated on AWS and their critical data securely stored with NetApp at Equinix, the county managers had the assurance that they could physically audit their storage if they needed to.
They could also implement on-demand disaster recovery, where they could literally take snapshots of their applications environment and put it on AWS and then store critical data on NetApp private storage within Equinix IBX data centers.
According to Bridy, “We know exactly where our data is, as opposed to it being somewhere in the cloud. That’s essential for municipalities, because we store personally identifiable information and data that’s subject to strict privacy laws under HIPAA.”
Performance and Efficiency
The county’s goal is to repurpose its data center space within the next few years and host all of its applications within their new hybrid cloud platform. It has already deployed a new email system using its hybrid cloud, resulting in more reliable communications and lower latency. Systems such as 911 dispatch and tax claims and assessment now leverage the hybrid cloud solution as well, providing high availability for these critical services. With the flexibility the cloud provides, the county can pursue paperless and mobility initiatives that were not previously possible.
“By allowing our behavioral health professionals and social workers to be mobile and still capture signatures and access applications from the field, we’ll increase their productivity by approximately 25%,” Bridy said.
Greater Protection, For Less Cost
Bridy expects that Northumberland County will save at least $1.1 million in hardware and facility costs over the next 10 years by moving to the cloud.
“By utilizing Amazon Web Services with NetApp Private Storage in an Equinix IBX data center, we have a much better and more secure data center than we could ever afford on our own,” Bridy said. “My advice to any municipality is to take advantage of a hybrid cloud sooner rather than later to help ensure the best use of taxpayer dollars.”