On Monday, June 26, concerns were raised during a commissioner meeting with Huber regarding the lack of off-site backup and the county's current back-up system of storing physical tapes in a fireproof safe in the basement of the administration building.
A Request For Qualifications for computer network administration services was approved by the Camden County Commission on Thursday, June 29. The commission also purchased off-site back up services from Huber & Associates, the Information Technology (IT) firm currently providing monthly hourly services.
Though Huber has already proposed a one-year contract for the county work, Presiding Commissioner Greg Hasty and Second District Commissioner Don Williams were advised by County Attorney Charles McElyea to publish the RFQ and undergo the bid process for the professional service.
On Monday, June 26, concerns were raised during a commissioner meeting with Huber regarding the lack of off-site backup and the county’s current back-up system of storing physical tapes in a fireproof safe in the basement of the administration building.
The commission signed a network administration contract last September with RVC Data which provided off-site back-up services during the height of a system wide crash allegedly stemming from a security breach. But Huber’s monthly services had not been providing the same under the hourly rate when RVC was terminated after just two months due to a disagreement over access to parts of the county’s network.
“There’s never been off-site backup to this point, it’s just been walked across (the parking lot) to First National Bank and put in a safe,” Hasty said last Thursday. “It didn’t follow best practices. I know early on we had some conversations with Huber about getting to the off-site backup and, honestly, I had it in the back of my mind we were going to go ahead and do that. Now we’re going to make sure it’s done.”
The issue is with storing network files, data and applications backups on only the hardware and physical tapes stored within the same building, or even the nearby bank, in the event of a natural disaster such as a tornado. When the Commission fired its entire in-house IT department during the computer crisis, the county effectively stopped storing those tapes in the bank’s vault.
“And I don’t even think that has been done recently, has it?” Auditor Jimmy Laughlin asked the Commission. “They used to have a lock box, is what I’ve found out, inside the main vault. Those are physical situations out of your control. You need to have somewhere to go where you can still be semi-operational. That’s the benefit of going with an IT company who has the machines and off-site backup information readily available.”
Commissioner Hasty said the bank backup was essentially suspended during the computer crash issue, and the county had only recently begun storing the I-Series tapes in the fireproof safe. The I-Series is a high-powered, multi-use mainframe server used by the Collector’s Office for tax bills and other business applications.
“The issue with that (setup) and why we want to go to an IT company is because we’re 24/7, whereas the bank is closed Saturdays and Sundays. If a disaster were to happen you can’t access that data until the vault opens which could be the next Monday,” Huber’s Clayton Shepard said. “I want to point out, too, that part of the agreement, the managed services agreement, is testing those backups and one difference there’s not a computer at the bank to test your backups.”
Laughlin suggested the Commission use an IT company for off-site backup locations and recommended implementing an annual standard disaster recovery test as well a schedule of intermittent backup recovery checks with Huber.
“They’re going to be tested, ran and you’ll know you have a good backup available in case of an emergency,” Shepard said. “We can spin the data, files, servers and mainframe pretty rapidly and allow you to use our equipment on a day to day basis should you declare a disaster.”
Huber has amended its initial proposal to include an additional $150 a month fee for the I-Series remote backup, and already has the other equipment backup built into the proposed contract for a total of approximately $13,640 a month under a one-year agreement.
“Until we get that done, on a monthly basis with additional off-site backup, we need to approve a monthly charge on the computer systems maintenance and operation,” Hasty said to Williams, who officially made the motion, ultimately approved by both commissioners.