Expensive support, no software updates and centralizing data storage are behind council’s move to buy new financial software and a new storage server.
According to a report by city information services manager Jeff Pelech, the software plus implementation will cost $522,000 and the server will cost $104,000.
The initiative is being underwritten with funds from the city’s Equipment replacement reserve fund.
The city will also be required to pay $30,000 in support fees, which is down from the $40,000 that it pays the existing vendor now.
The city’s financial systems software is in dire need of replacement, Pelech said.
The old system doesn’t interface well with vital municipal applications.
The current vendor’s client list has shrunk from 200 to two. And software update costs, such as one made to accommodate the HST, are onerous.
The new system is a ‘one vendor one phone call’ solution, is Microsoft based, and will get 10 years of supports and updates. “I can guarantee it as long as Microsoft can guarantee it,” Pelech said.
“They (Microsoft) might own the world in 10 years.”
The price is steep, Coun. Jack McLeman said.
It is, Pelech replied, but it’s the going rate for this type of software and licensing, technical services and support fees.
The project can also be underwritten without compromising future city technological replacements.
Coun. Cindy Solda asked what the new software actually does, and what other communities use it.
Pelech replied that the new system does everything the old system did – financials, payroll, payables, receivables – but does so more efficiently.
The new system is also the standard of other municipalities such as Parksville, Nanaimo, Courtenay and Comox, Pelech said.
The city’s computer servers are old, overtaxed and need to be replaced, he added, and now would be the best time—before the software is purchased.
The single server council has agreed to buy replaces four existing ones that are spread across the city and are backed up with tape.
The newest of them is three years old and the oldest is 10 years old, Pelech said. The existing servers are scheduled for upgrades every five years.
The new server is specifically designed to hold large amounts of data, centralizes its storage with enhanced security and allows for future expansion, he added.
Solda and Robert Cole asked if the project could wait until the budget process next year.
Pelech replied that everything has a lifetime to it and the old servers are reaching theirs.
Also, that “…servers run 24 hours a day, generate heat and parts fail,” he added.
And as well, that the city agreed to buy the new software, and that it doesn’t make sense to install it on the old server then again on the new one after the budget process.
Cole asked if buying the new server now would save the city time and money. Pelech replied that buying it now then installing the new software is the most efficient use of city time.