Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's OfficeLA County Rejuvenates Election Rolls with Nth Generation's HP RAID Solution
On Eve of a California Election, Nth Generation Wins a Competitive Bid to Overhaul L.A. County Election Database Storage Environment -- And Helps Slash Backup Time From Two Months to Two Minutes
From Arnold Schwarzenegger's ballot recall victory in California to the "hanging chad" debate in Florida's 2000 presidential election, America's electoral system has come under intense scrutiny. Among the emerging realizations: Many American voting precincts have woefully outdated voter registration rolls. But in Los Angeles County, with its 4.1 million registered voters and 5,000 voting precincts, officials were determined to stabilize its outmoded voter election database storage environment before something went wrong.
The Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder's Office provides a permanent, secure repository for more than 160 million documents for the offices of County Registrar, County Recorder, and County Clerk. The office is charged with a variety of official personal and business records, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, property records, fictitious business name listings, and registration of notaries. Each year, the Registrar-Recorder processes 2 million real and personal property documents and 750,000 birth, death, and marriage records. It serves 2,000 customers daily.
But the Registrar-Recorder also is responsible for many election functions: election conduct, voter registration and records keeping, and verification of ballot initiative, referendums, and recall petitions. Each year, the office is involved in approximately 200 government and school elections.
With nearly 60 million files and increasing data growth, the Registrar-Recorder's legacy SCSI (Small Computer System Interface)-based storage array was quickly nearing capacity. The manufacturer also no longer supported it. Plus, reliability was a problem. Critical applications were hosted on aging Intel-based servers that were running out-of-date versions of Windows NT and NT Cluster. Running a full backup and restore took up to two months. "The volume and value of the records were taking its toll on the Registrar-Recorder's data center," explains Richard Baldwin, president of Nth Generation Computing, Inc. (San Diego), a storage systems integrator. "The obsolete hardware threatened to put the Registrar-Recorder's Office out of business."
Knowledge, Experience Lead To Winning Bid
Recognizing its precarious position - and just weeks before the November 2002 elections - the Registrar-Recorder published a competitive bid request to quickly overhaul its elections database storage environment. "The primary challenges were time pressures and the critical nature of the application," says Baldwin. "We won the bid because we took the time to learn the Registrar-Recorder's business. Our proposal addressed their objectives exactly and called for a quick, non-disruptive implementation."
The solution was implemented in phases. First, Nth Generation designed an adaptive, high-performance networked storage infrastructure based around the HP StorageWorks Enterprise Virtual Array 5000 (EVA5000) from Hewlett-Packard (Palo Alto, CA). The installed EVA5000 has 10 TB raw capacity. It is designed for data centers with a critical need for improved storage utilization, enhanced scalability, and simplified storage administration. Software includes HP Business Copy, HP VCS (Virtual Controller Software), and HP Secure Path (multi-path software), which combine to manage, monitor, and configure storage requirements. To address the cluster reliability issue, the Registrar-Recorder migrated critical applications to new Intel-based servers running an up-to-date operating system and clustering software. A second EVA5000 with 6 TB raw capacity was installed in July 2003. Scalable storage capacity is 70 TB.
"The solution addresses all of the concerns of the recorder's office," says Baldwin. "It brings much greater capacity, performance, reliability, flexibility, and manageability to the Recorder's data storage environment." With the legacy equipment, the Registrar-Recorder's data volumes were dependent on the size of individual disks (36 GB or 72 GB per volume). Nth Generation's storage virtualization solution provides much finer granularity, enabling the creation of data volumes from 1 GB to 2 TB in size in 1 GB increments. Administrators can manage the entire storage environment from a central control point via the storage management appliance. "Using HP's Business Copy software, the Registrar-Recorder can create point-in-time copies instantaneously," Baldwin says. "The Registrar-Recorder's Office can now make a virtual copy of its full database and present it or assign it to a different server in about two minutes."
In addition to providing technical support and training to system users, Nth Generation also is preparing a full disaster recovery solution that would enable real-time replication to a remote site. Next up, according to Baldwin, is assisting the office with storage as it begins digitizing as many as 6 million public records dating to the 1930s. "In addition to improved accessibility and efficiency, the Registrar-Recorder views automation as a way to realize records management cost savings," he says. "And clearly, it can help improve accuracy as well.
For more information about business continuance, disaster recovery or any of Nth Generation's other areas of expertise, contact Nth at (858) 451-2383.