City IT plan gains support

Posted: November 5, 2012

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — The city’s plan to improve its technology resources — with a few minor tweaks — received a vital endorsement Friday.

Members of the Information Technology Committee — comprised of local IT leaders from the public and private sectors — agreed with the plan city staffers and a consultant have developed to expand and enhance technology. The plan calls for nearly $2.75 million in spending over a five-year period.

While the plan calls for certain actions to resolve deficiencies, the costs associated with those actions are best estimates at this time. Vice-Mayor Milt McInturff said City Council is aware that it is a “working plan” and that changes likely will be made.

“I’m confident with this as a starting point,” said Steve Muller, director of technology for Winchester Public Schools.

“I think y’all did a really good job,” added Quaiser Absar, director of institutional computing at Shenandoah University. “It’s coming together.”

The committee had a hand in the development of the plan but had not seen the final outline presented to City Council in October. Councilors asked for the panel to review it before they took action to approve it, which is expected to occur on Nov. 13.

The two key shifts were recommended by committee members.

A deficiency slated to be resolved in the first two years or the plan — at an estimated cost of $60,000 — is the creation and implementation a disaster recovery or business continuity of operations plan.

Tom Lloyd, the city’s IT director, said his attention primarily was on disaster recovery. However, after some discussion, he concluded that continuity of operations probably should to be his primary focus and will help define what data needs to be recovered post-disaster.

The other change is additional attention to security.

Erica Truban, president of eTruban Consulting, said with all the changes the city is talking about making, security needs to be a serious consideration.

“When you make this many changes in your environment,” she said, “you open a lot of doors” for potential exploitation.

The plan’s goals are to provide the technology necessary for city staffers to work more efficiently, for citizens to conduct more business with the city electronically, and provide the staffing necessary to support the expanded options.

Lloyd said a key component of the plan will be to move away from desktop computers to laptops and other devices that employees can use outside their offices. Moving toward virtualization — in which the computing is done on a server instead of a desktop or laptop — also is a key objective.

While the plan likely will be changed based on shifting needs or technological advances, McInturff said he doesn’t think City Council will let IT spending lag as it did during the last economic downturn.

“IT is no longer a second priority in this day and age,” he said. “It’s got to be a priority just like the buildings and police, fire and rescue.”

Attending the meeting at Rouss City Hall were Quaiser Absar, Tom Lloyd, Milt McInturff, Steve Muller, Dane Schell, Erica Truban and Les Veach.

— Contact Vic Bradshaw at vbradshaw@winchesterstar.com