Initial cost projected at $21,500
By Bert Lehman
The city of Clintonville has approved purchases for new hardware for its computer system, as well as network support for the next year.
City Administrator Chuck Kell told the Clintonville City Council Monday, Nov. 7, that representatives from Integrated Systems of Appleton recently met with staff and the city’s information technology consultant.
Kell told the council that Integrated Systems indicated that the city has a peer-to-peer computer network, which is usually used for very small businesses or home offices. With a peer-to-peer network, computer security is controlled by each individual computer.
Businesses normally have a domain computer network, he said.
For a Microsoft Business Network, typically one or more servers are set up as the domain controller, and that is where the security is normally housed, Kell said.
The study found that one of the city’s servers is from 2003, with the second server from 2008. The computer system also does not have a redundant drive system to backup one server to another.
“They recommend that we immediately move some of the things on the 2003 server to the 2008 server because if the 2003 goes down it’s (data) going to be lost,” Kell said.
He said the city’s backup system is also a system that is normally used in home offices. This system will back up some files, but not all the folders on the system.
“A lot of that data is at risk,” Kell said.
Kell said minimum, immediate recommendations from Integrated Systems include the city purchasing a couple of hard drives and turning on the Windows backup on the servers to back up the city’s computer system because the city’s data is at risk with the current system.
Another recommendation is for the city to move to a Microsoft Exchange for email.
Updating the city’s computer virus system was also recommended. The current virus system being used is what came with each personal computer.
“There are quite a few issues here,” Kell said.
A larger recommendation calls for the city to purchase two new computer servers. This would include a main server and a replica server. This would include a setup in which data is backed up every 10 to 15 minutes.
“The cost of the hardware and their installation time to migrate all the data and setup the new email system and put all the data on it would be $21,500,” Kell said.
If the city decided to hire Integrated Solutions to maintain and support the computer system, the cost would be about $10,000 per year, Kell said. Backing up the city’s data at an offsite is also included in this cost. Anti-spam software would also be included, along with 80 hours of support per year.
Integrated Solutions told Kell most system breakdowns would be repaired within two hours. Catastrophic breakdowns are guaranteed to be returned to normal within one day with no lost data.
Kell indicated that he has worked with Integrated Solutions in the past and was happy with the service and price.
“I don’t think this cost is too alarming to me,” Kell said.
Kell said the city is currently paying about $32,000 per year to the IT consultant who maintains the current computer system for the city.
Integrated Solutions was recommending the city act quickly to make changes to its computer system, Kell said.
Alderman Brad Rokus told the council the city needs to make these upgrades and asked where in the budget the funds would come from to pay for the upgrades.
It was indicated that if the city decided to contract with Integrated Solutions, the city wouldn’t need to keep its current IT consultant, so that money could be used to cover the costs.
Alderman Lance Bagstad said the $21,500 is a one-time cost, which is something that undesignated fund balance was designed to be used for. He also agreed the system needs to be upgraded.
“The amount of personnel hours we’ve lost and will continue to lose to catch all this data up is going to exceed these numbers quite greatly. It makes no sense to continue moving forward with what we’re doing,” Bagstad said.
Bagstad asked Kell if the lifespan of the servers was discussed.
Kell said the lifespan is five years.
Bagstad told the council it will need to plan for that expense every five years. He also suggested looking into purchasing a used server as well as a new server, so a rotation schedule can be developed in which two new servers don’t need to be purchased every five years.
Council President Mike Hankins asked if the city should seek prices from other companies.
She added that she isn’t sure if the city has time to seek prices from other companies. She said she was concerned about the computer system crashing again.
“What I just heard about some of this, it’s scary that we don’t have backups, we don’t have a firewall,” said Alderwoman Amy Steenbock.
Clintonville Chief of Police James Beggs asked if the city’s current IT consultant was aware of the deficiencies in the city’s computer system.
Clintonville Clerk Treasurer Peggy Johnson told the council that the IT consultant is asked each budget cycle what things he needs for the city’s computer system.
Steenbock asked if the city’s current IT consultant has a contract with the city.
Johnson said that per the consultant, there is no contract.
Alderman Jim Supanich said he agreed with Hankins that it is a good idea to request cost proposals from multiple companies, but in the city’s current, situation, he wasn’t sure if that was possible.
“Can we afford another crash?” Supanich said. “… I brought this issue up back in June I think. We’re in a situation now we can’t afford the system crashing.”
Since the meeting agenda didn’t indicate the agenda item was an action item, the council decided to discuss it again when it met Monday, Nov. 14. At this meeting, the council approved the $21,500 expenditure, not to exceed $24,999, as well as contracting with Integrated Solutions to maintain and support the computer system through the end of 2017. This will allow the city to seek cost estimates from other companies for the maintenance and support of its computer system. Hankins voted no.