FORT WAYNE – The Allen County Public Library’s technology infrastructure is about to get a big boost – $470,000 worth.
Board members approved spending the money Thursday in hopes that a new “virtualized” server system will reduce costs, improve reliability and maximize energy efficiency.
Most importantly, the system would provide vastly improved security and improve disaster recovery, library Director Jeff Krull said.
Virtualization is the computer creation of a virtual – as opposed to actual – version of something, such as network resources. For example, a smartphone virtualizes different applications so that the operator does not need to actually possess the different programs to access them – such as a calculator, video camera or MP3 player. If the library were to suffer a major power outage or a natural disaster such as a tornado, the current technology system would be lost and take months to rebuild, library systems manager Sean Casserley said.
With a virtualized system, Casserley said the system “would literally be uninterrupted.”
The library’s data center – in another building on DiSalle Boulevard – houses about 30 separate computer servers that are responsible for the email system, public computer system, the library’s website and other technology.
As the servers age, they must be replaced, usually one or two at a time, Krull said. The new virtualized system would replace those servers with only a few powerful computers programmed to mimic the functions of the smaller computers.
“Yes, it’s a large chunk of money, but in the long run there could be a cost savings,” Krull said.
ENS Group of Fort Wayne was the sole responder to the library’s call for bids on the new system.
Staff training is built into the overall contract price.
“About $15,000 to train four people is included,” Casserley said. Those employees will be trained how to do computer backups and create virtual servers. The largest portion of dollars will go toward hardware and installation, he said.
Finance manager David Sedestrom said the project has been talked about for some time and the money was included in this year’s budget.
Sedestrom said he was looking forward to having more reliability.
The library’s computer system crashed last summer, he said, and employees in the finance department had to go home and use their computers to finish payroll on time.