The County greatly enhanced its ability to keep pace with evolving technology and provide better service to the public by decommissioning its mainframe system in 2016.
In the summer, the County shut down its bulky 43-year-old mainframe computer system, replacing it completely with a new modern Microsoft-Windows based platform. This new platform houses important applications used every day by the public, including the County’s property tax system, which allows people to view and pay their property taxes online.
In fact, the County became one of the first agencies in the state of California to successfully and cost-effectively move its property tax system off of an antiquated mainframe computer system to a new modern system.
The County benefits from this new system in a variety of ways, including:
- Reduced maintenance and operating costs. Retiring the mainframe resulted in an immediate annual cost savings of more than $580,000 by eliminating software licensing and hardware maintenance costs.
- Improved development tools. It frees up County programmers’ time to work on important technologies and applications that will help the County better serve the public.
- Enhanced access to and analysis of data using a modern platform. It allows for better integration with other modern systems used by the County.
- Increased flexibility to adapt to future related software changes as needed by the affected departments. Because the data in the new system is much more accessible, it can be more easily maintained and future developments or improvements will be easier to accomplish.
The County’s mainframe system was developed 43 years ago with technology that was cutting edge at that time, and the County realized significant benefits from its use over the years. In fact, the County’s first e-mail system was hosted on the mainframe.
Until recently, the mainframe was the only computer platform capable of handling the large volume of computer processing tasks required by the County’s many information systems.
“We pioneered a new approach to successfully retire an old mainframe platform while safeguarding four decades worth of business rules,” said County IT Director Daniel Milei. “Many other counties have similar challenges with their aging mainframes, and anxiously watched to see how we did with this project. Our project became a model for other counties as we empowered our delivery teams, encouraged collaboration across all parties, and had faith in our people.”
Ultimately, the mainframe was at the end of its useful life. If the County had kept the system, it would have resulted in significant hardware replacement costs.
Years prior, as part of a strategic plan, the County IT Department recommended retiring the mainframe. In December 2012, the County entered into a contract with a major technology firm to migrate the County’s property tax system from the mainframe to a Microsoft Windows platform.
In June 2013, the project began and a dedicated team made up of employees from the County Assessor’s, Auditor-Controller/Tax Collector’s, and IT departments was formed to keep the project on track. The IT department managed the project and worked directly with the hired technology firm to successfully migrating the property tax system.
The success of the project involved hard work and dedication. Additionally the project had a supportive steering committee, excellent cooperation between departments, a strong technical team, dedicated departmental resources, and a vendor committed to the project’s success.
The new property tax system went live in April 2016.