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Riverbed Enables a Digital Transformation in Mahoning County, Ohio

SteelFusion solved the problem of backups spilling into the work day and degrading application performance.

January 24, 2018

4 Min Read

SAN FRANCISCO -- Riverbed Technology, the application performance company, today announced that Mahoning County, Ohio's IT Department, is using Riverbed SteelFusion as the foundation for a digital transformation that enables all county agencies, from the jail and the courts, to county engineers and even the dog warden, better serve their constituents. SteelFusion eliminated the problem of network and data backups spilling over into the workday, and degrading application performance. More importantly, by freeing up space on the network, it allowed the IT team to upgrade agencies that were formerly paper-based to digital. SteelFusion also permits an expanded use of data-intensive applications such as geographic information systems (GIS).

Mahoning County is located on the eastern edge of Ohio at the border with Pennsylvania. Mahoning County measures 425 square miles, and as of the 2010 census, its population was 238,823. Mahoning County's IT Department, led by County Auditor Ralph T. Meacham and IT Director Jacob Williams, supports 50 county governmental agencies operating in 20 locations. Williams' staff of 10 provides and maintains all of the information technology for the county's 1,800 employees.

Previously IT services were delivered from servers located at eight different sites across the county. As the volume of each office's data grew, backing it up to a central location became a serious problem. It had gotten so bad that backups that were started on the weekend, and should have been finished by Monday morning, didn't complete until Tuesday or Wednesday. When backups spilled over into the workday, application performance was terrible, to the point where some employees switched back to paper processes until performance improved.

Adding bandwidth wasn't the solution. Williams had already gone up to 10-meg connectivity at some sites but with the volume of the county's data growing exponentially, this was an expensive, and ultimately futile approach. Application performance wasn't the only problem related to backup-induced network saturation. As long as the problem persisted, Williams couldn't automate some of the offices and departments that really needed to be automated because he couldn't risk putting more data onto the already burdened network. "We needed to come up with new ideas and new ways of delivering a good computing environment, while at the same time covering the issue of data security," Meacham said.

Meacham found the answer to these problems in Riverbed SteelFusion, a Software-Defined Edge (SD-Edge) solution that allowed the county to converge remote storage, server, backup and networking infrastructure into one small appliance, while securing 100% of its data in the data center and delivering application performance as if the data resided locally.

Following a successful trial run at one location, Meacham deployed a SteelFusion Core appliance in the county's data center and SteelFusion Edge appliances at each of the remote sites. There, a SteelFusion appliance replaces the entire previous IT infrastructure, which no longer has to be cooled or maintained, for a significant cost savings. Another advantage is that the IT staff, which has always been centralized, no longer has to travel to the remote sites to maintain equipment or processes, adding to the overall savings.

Since the SteelFusion deployment, the problem of backups affecting application performance has been eliminated since all data is now stored and backed up centrally. But that is just the beginning of the benefits of the SteelFusion solution. Most importantly, Meacham has been able to automate offices that were previously paper-based and expand the use of IT in general.

For example, with the newly freed-up network, Williams was able to upgrade the dog warden's office to a digital case management system, making things easier for the staff as well as providing surprising insights for law enforcement. With access to the dog warden's data, law enforcement found a correlation between high numbers of dog bites and incidents of domestic violence – an insight that would have been nearly impossible back when that data was kept on paper.

Another example is the growing use of the county's GIS, one of the best in Ohio, with high-resolution aerial images covering the entire county. Previously, the application was so data-intensive it was virtually unusable, except by people in the office where the server resided. That is no longer the case, and departments, such as Sanitary Engineering and the Auditor's office now take advantage of that information.

According to Meacham, SteelFusion enables the county to better serve its constituents. And to him, it's important that he was able to enable this transformation in a way that was painless for the user base. "When we can do things from an IT perspective behind the scenes, and it results in things being better and faster for the users, change can happen real quickly," he said.

Riverbed Technology Inc. (Nasdaq: RVBD)

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