Sep 18 2015

Examining King County, Wash.'s Cloud Migration

Fed up with their previous data storage system, the county chose a far more agile alternative.

Many states with archaic IT systems understand the dire need for upgrades, but implementing these necessary changes still proves challenging. Presented with the option of continuing to use a frustratingly out-of-date system or making the switch to the cloud, King County, Washington, opted for the latter. The process, though arduous, was certainly worth the hard work.

King County — which includes Seattle — is home to upwards of two million people. As you can imagine, two million people can produce a lot of data to manage, and because the system had been relying on magnetic tapes, this task was very frustrating. Exasperated by the situation, King County’s Enterprise Technology Services team decided to move all of the data to the cloud last July. County Enterprise Technology Manager Bob Micielli told StateScoop that it ultimately saved them time and money, especially since the tapes were archived 50 miles away from the county offices at an off-site facility.

“We were using 2 1/2 full-time employees to keep the system running and we were burning through 2,000 tapes a year, which is about $64,000 a year we spent on it,” Micielli explained. “Back in the off-site storage, we had over 12,000 tapes and we were getting charged $50,000 a year to keep the tapes off-site.”

The potential savings (over $1 million in infrastructure costs this year; $200,000 in operating costs annually) helped convince other decision makers to support the transition. Nevertheless, questions about the security of sensitive information, such as medical records and court information made this group hesitant to make the switch to the cloud. By highlighting four of the new system’s proficiencies, Micielli was eventually able to win them over.

“Encryption at rest, encryption at transit, manage the keys in-house and the data was stored 50 miles away from its origination,” he said, adding that all he had to do was “prove those four things.”

The data migration, which began in January, was finally completed earlier this month. Moving forward, King County’s decision to embrace modernization will not only be efficient in terms of time and money, but will also help in other areas.

“There’s a huge improvement not only from an operational point of view and a liability point of view, but from a financial point of view,” he said.


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