After 31 years of serving the LOGIS membership, Rich Sonenblum retired on March 24th. Rich began his career at LOGIS in 1984 and has worked in various capacities. He has spent nearly half of his career as the LOGIS Public Safety System Support Supervisor. Rich was kept busy right up until his last day preparing for the rollout of the new system. Thanks to Rich for all of your work throughout the years and best wishes on a long and happy retirement.
Over the years I’ve heard (and perhaps you have too) someone occasionally comment from a non-LOGIS entity something like: “LOGIS? – Yeah, I’ve heard they’re good but expensive!” Sound familiar? I’ve even heard similar comments from a department that doesn’t use LOGIS applications, yet they are a LOGIS member none the less.
When we compete for business, especially responding to an RFP, we usually don’t appear to be the cheapest solution. Why is this the case? With the number of members participating in the shared LOGIS applications this certainly reduces the costs each pay. So, shouldn’t this allow us to quote even lower costs to potential new members vs. what vendors quote?
Well, many of you know that LOGIS is a total cost of ownership model. But put another way, LOGIS was structured by its Board of Directors many years ago to be an overall service organization, responsible for ALL aspects of providing application technology to our members. This means that we don’t just provide the software and hardware. We are structured to handle additional responsibilities such as the network infrastructure, data communications, security, local support, PCI compliance, disaster recovery, a CIP program to replace all hardware and many other services. To do all of this, our costs reflect the provision of these total services. Far beyond what is provided by private sector vendors.
One example mentioned above: LOGIS must provide a disaster recovery site. This means that most applications have duplicate servers at that facility which are running and ready to be a fail-over environment allowing for business continuity of our applications in the event of a disaster. It also means that all of the data used by most of the LOGIS applications are mirrored simultaneously at both sites. And of course, the data is backed up on a daily basis.
Now if we wanted to undercut the competition, it would be easy! We’d simply reduce the number of services we provide. Dropping that disaster recovery service; eliminating hardware replacement cycles, assistance with networking issues, unlimited training, etc. would significantly reduce our costs and therefore what we charge. Our members however have made it pretty clear. The reduced service approach is not why they joined LOGIS. They realize that any of those services no longer provided by LOGIS would need to be replaced by each member, sooner or later, along with paying more for that assistance or service.
LOGIS isn’t more expensive when comparing equitable service levels. Because our members share in those services, LOGIS is by far more cost effective than any other entity or vendor, local or national.
For the past dozen years, the American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council (ACT-IAC) has sponsored the Excellence.gov Awards to recognize outstanding government programs that use information technology in an especially effective and/or innovative manner. This year’s Awards program considered over 110 nominations from Federal, state and local governments throughout the nation. I’m very proud to announce that LOGIS was a finalist winner for the Excellence in Governmental Collaboration category.
As Kenneth Allen, Executive Director of the Organization noted:
“A panel of government and industry judges deemed the LOGIS program to be one of the best in the nation. This is a tribute to you and your team. It is also recognition of your organization’s commitment to improving the ability of government to serve citizens more effectively. “
Teri Takai, the speaker at the Excellence.gov Awards luncheon and Chief Information Officer from the Department of Defense said, “the Excellence.gov Awards recognize our nation’s premier information technology innovations across Federal, state and local government.” Congratulations upon being in this select group, and thank you for your service to the country.
On June 16, 2011, LOGIS will replace its existing help desk software with Tracker, a system produced by PhaseWare, Inc., of McKinney, TX. Help desk (or “call tracking”) systems provide a way to record and organize customer calls (incidents), ensuring that requests for assistance are handled in a timely manner.
PhaseWare Tracker offers numerous improvements over the previous help desk system. Many of these improvements are visible only to LOGIS staff, but some will directly benefit LOGIS member agencies. For example:
The LOGIS Self Service Center (SSC) is an online portal that will be available to all members. Using SSC, members can create their own incidents and monitor the progress of existing incidents. IMPORTANT: If you currently use the BMC Service Desk Express Self Service (Magic) website to create and track incidents, please be aware that this site will be permanently disabled on June 16. You will receive guidance on accessing the new LOGIS Self Service Center before that date.
Many of the departments at LOGIS will have department email addresses that allow members to create new incidents by sending an email to the appropriate address. Tracker will monitor the email inboxes and create incidents for each email sent. If you send emails to a department inbox for the current help desk system, please be aware that there may be some disruptions when we convert to the new system on June 16. Your LOGIS department will let you know if there are any steps you need to take.
Watch for further communications from your department at LOGIS. Self Service Center demonstrations will be provided at upcoming user group meetings.
I commented at the last LOGIS Board of Director’s meeting that we’ve seen a significant benefit from the replacement of our aging servers with new blade server technology. Here are some of the details of that effort.
In late 2009 and early 2010, as part of a routine server replacement project, Network Services replaced two-thirds of the LOGIS server farm with blade server technology. Blade servers provide many advantages, including floor space savings and reduced cooling costs. From a management perspective they offer better standardization, fault tolerance, flexibility and performance.
From a dollars and cents perspective, the new LOGIS blade servers have already proven their worth in reduced energy costs. A comparison of the November 2008 and November 2009 energy bills showed a cost reduction of nearly 25%. Network Services reports that server energy usage has been reduced by 37% since the blade servers were installed.