County takes storage lead

Officials in Contra Costa, one of the largest counties in California, have

opted for a network-attached storage (NAS) solution to meet their records

management needs. They hope the effort will serve as an example that other

governments can follow to address a growing problem.

"We keep data forever at the records office, and we've been buying more

storage space every year since 1999 to cope with the increased volumes,"

said Barbara Chambers, assistant county recorder. "We were faced with having

to buy another server and storage hardware, but that poses its own problems.

Our servers tend to be very high-maintenance and require from two-and-a-half

to three days for backup at the end of each week."

The new NAS system, from Auspex Systems Inc., Santa Clara, Calif., performs

backups in about three hours, Chambers said. In addition, the county's servers

previously had to be taken off-line and rebooted each month, whereas the

Auspex systems require a reboot only every five to 10 years.

The NAS system comes with 500G of storage, which Chambers expects will

accommodate two years' worth of the county's records. But it can be expanded

to up to 9 terabytes, which would likely cover the county's storage demands

for at least the next decade.

The system offers other benefits as well, Chambers said. For example,

officials want to take county records that are currently stored on microfiche

and make them available online — something that wasn't possible with previous

systems. Also, the Auspex system will increase the image quality of those

records by allowing for a higher dots-per-inch resolution.

"We are one of the larger counties, and [we] hit the [storage] wall

before others," Chambers said. "We do think we are on the leading edge with

this, and we know that other people will be looking at us closely now because

of this."

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be reached

at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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