CSC | Your Chief Technology Office | Columbus

As a public administrator today, finding cost-effective answers for your agency’s information technology questions can often be your greatest challenge. After all, there is a lot to consider when dealing with IT: staffing, networking hardware and software, building infrastructure, centralized data backup and disaster-recovery planning.

With an increasing number of public employees using their personal laptops, portable devices and other mobile applications to perform at least some of their duties, it makes good fiscal sense for government offices to deploy some form of safe wireless technology for wider use. This goal is not without its obstacles, though. Your agency may not have the necessary back-end hardware to support some of the newer wireless technology, your data may be stored in several locations, or you may be required to have specific hardware controlling numerous access points.

Fortunately, several of the current cloud-based wireless applications address these scenarios. For instance, with just a couple of mouse clicks on the “dashboard” of one of these Web-based management interfaces, you can control all of your access points. Simply enter the appropriate data into your network during the initial setup process, and you are ready to begin. Your agency needs no physical controller, and the system is easy to deploy and change whenever necessary.

If your IT challenges need staffing solutions, outsourcing is a cost-effective way to provide technical support for your employees or to assist in the integration of local or regional IT operations, even on a small scale. Plus, there is another distinct benefit for government agencies when it comes to outsourcing IT support. Your agency becomes privy to a large, collective amount of experience that has dealt with hundreds of different customers. If an IT issue arises in your office and no one single person on your staff can address it, chances are there is someone on your outsourcing team who has knowledge of current technology trends on a much broader scale.

Still, perhaps your most vital responsibility within your own government agency, aside from providing a valuable service to the public, is the protection and security of your information database. The importance cannot be overstated of having a disaster-recovery plan in effect and the necessary hardware in place for a quick IT recovery. As an example, before your software crashes or your physical hardware goes down, you should have a local hardware server that can remotely have your system up and running within 10 or 15 minutes, so no one even knows there has been a failure. Instead of being offline for several days, you have a temporary solution in place while your main hardware is being permanently restored.

Whether your agency is considering outsourcing IT tasks or deploying in-house solutions, the key point to remember is planning ahead. Because you rely on public monies to operate, having funding in place to advance your IT program will be your foremost hurdle. However, keep in mind that while much attention will be focused on your proposed upfront investment, your bottom line may be more attractive in the long run because of more efficient IT infrastructure — and fewer problems.

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