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Category: Technology

April 6 Technology Literacy Event – 10-2 PM at City Hall

City Goes Cloud with Emails and Documents

At the last meeting, the Council decided to use a cloud-based platform for its internal emails and many documents.

The Council approved a contract with Volta, Inc. for $10,000 to migrate the City’s 2007 Exchange server to Exchange Online and to Microsoft Office 365 cloud-based solution from the current Microsoft Office 2007 desktop solution.

City believes that the conversion will help improve productivity, as staff can access the documents from anywhere online. However, physical documents that need to be stored properly can be safely placed inside mailing tubes for safe keeping.

The new solution will also many additional products for multiple devices, automatic updates, enhanced collaboration, and storage, etc. Staff contacted Rockville, Greenbelt, Leonardtown, Caroline County, and LaPlata who have switched to Office 365 and have been pleased with the results.

If approved, the City expects the process to require four to six weeks for the migration and for staff training for the updated applications. The annual cost for Office 365 is approximately $2,000 more than the same cost of new licenses every five years for Microsoft Office.

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The conversion will cost the City $10,000 for 91 full Microsoft 365 licenses at $12.50 per month and 91 limited licenses at $4.00 per month

City Mulls Server Virtualization and Cloud Solutions to Cut IT Cost

The City is considering the approval the purchase contract of hardware (servers) and software to replace and upgrade existing systems at a cost of $77,560.90. The City currently uses separate, dedicated server hosting for various IT functions, such as hosting the website with the help of Collectiveray.com, managing email, and printers, storing files, etc. Some of the servers are more than five years old. “Server Virtualization” is a more efficient use of server resources. Software is used to divide one server into multiple “virtual” servers.

Staff is recommending that vendor will install and implement the equipment ($5,600). Three years of product support for VMware is $2,946. The City received three quotes for purchasing the new virtual servers, and the lowest and recommended quote is $77,560.90 (the other bids were $78,429 and $91,338). The vendor’s price is based on a “pre-negotiated technology contract” that includes discounts for hardware, software, and maintenance.

Having said that, a lot of companies, including many federal government agencies are moving towards cloud based solution. Most leading cloud providers, such as Amazon AWS, meilleur stockage cloud and Microsoft Azure, allow the purchase of cloud servers and install custom software there. In the end, companies save thousands of dollars on hardware, software, and maintenance.

Also, Federal government has been encouraging agencies to move to the cloud.

I’ve asked staff to look into cloud solution a little bit more and compare the cost with the virtualization option. By doing this, we can find the best cloud solution that boasts in capacity, efficiency, security and affordability. Hope we can instantly find one so we can implement one for our own systems.

City Looks to Support UMD’s BitCamp Hackathon

At tonight’s Council meeting, the City Council will discuss whether or how to support the annual BitCamp “Hackathon” event (https://bitca.mp/).

The BitCamp is an annual app development competition, at University of Maryland. The teams at Bitcamp develop apps and submit them for prizes.

If the Council decides to participate, it will discuss the following: 1) decide what the prize would be for the best app developed to serve College Park residents; 2) decide what the criteria would be in judging the apps submitted; and 3) decide who will be on the team to judge the apps submitted.

The event is scheduled for April 8-10, and the organizers will submit the proposals from participants who say that they are entering “our” contest.

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