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County Commission Gets IT Update at Work Session


BRADENTON -- Keeping up to speed in the tech world can be difficult, and the scale by which equipment changes presents an added challenge. The IT world has all but reinvented the way people, corporations and governments do their business. So how important is it to be high-tech in today's world? Manatee County Commissioners got a preview at Tuesday's Work Session.

Paul Alexander, Executive Director for the Business Technology Services Department in Manatee County said, "Our goal is to set a strategic direction and follow it." 


"Proactive dollars go further than reactive dollars, every day of the week," said Alexander, while presenting a list of priorities that were guided by a strategic plan. 

Business Continuity; Disaster Recovery; Fiber Network Expansion; and Talent Management were at the top of his list. Alexander then named a number of major projects in the works.

Using simple metaphors, he described the challenges of tackling such an enormous endeavor; using ones that most people have with their car.

He equated a system's adaptability, flexibility and building for change, to total cost of vehicle ownership, the desired speed of travel and  whether an application would "fit in the garage." Alexander likened automated workload and configuration management to a process of different auto services similar to oil changes, brakes and other routine maintenance procedures that help offset larger costs later. 

He said smart phones, apps and software will continue to play an increasing role in the efficiency of the system and spoke of operations like Apple TV and Microsoft 6.5 to allow access from anywhere using mobil device management. 

Being prepared and putting anticipated changes into play takes focus and commitment, Alexander explained, adding,  "… that starts with putting funds aside; funds that are built into the cost of the service." 

Alexander finished his presentation with a metaphor: I want that car. How will I pay for it?

The total estimated cost of a near complete makeover of the county's technology system was said to be in the range somewhere between $11 and $13 million; a price commissioners seemed to be comfortable with.


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