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City looks to upgrade computer technology
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Computer technology at Ceres City Hall has suffered in recent years due to budget shortcomings but city officials say something must be done to get with the times.

Last week the City Council approved a $23,520 contract with DataPath Technology Services to fully assess the city's IT equipment and make recommendations for newer systems as the city finds the cash.

"We've been in a very stagnant mode for quite a while and not all of the things that are being recommended are achievable at this time but we're so behind the curve that we've got to make some changes," said Police Chief/Acting City Manager Art deWerk. "There's more to this than trying to deal with the outdated equipment that we have."

He said IT changes are needed as the city makes a "wholesale transition" from the way the city does business now to a place where desk phones and existing computers are going to be obsolete.

"Everything that we see now is probably, in the next three to five years, going to totally change," said deWerk.

Some of the items that will be identified will need immediate replacement, he said, because "frankly we've put a hold on most all of the computer replacements because we know the industry is transitioning."

He calls the consultant a "step in the right direction."

DeWerk said by the city merely replacing "what we already have" will mean the city "will continue to be in the dark ages, and that's not acceptable for a city that's trying to become economically robust and to attract businesses that view us as being in modern times."

David Darmstandler, a vice president with the company, said the analysis should take 60 to 90 days. The company recently analyzed the Turlock Unified School District and its 40 sites.

"Part of the overall purpose of the actual audit and finding out what you guys have and creating a plan is cost cutting measures as well, centralizing more things," Darmstandler told the council.

The focus will evaluate the city's server environment, virtualization, disaster recovery, network infrastructure, end user devices, camera/IP surveillance and IT support staffing.

Mayor Chris Vierra said he remembers being on the council when then mayor Anthony Cannella and council went line by line in the budget and placed a lot of IT expenditures on hold.

"I can't remember how many years ago that was so I can definitely understand the need for getting a handle on what we have, what would be the cost to get us to where we probably need to be," said Vierra.

Vierra said he is familiar with DataPath and how they have assisted businesses.