Blog iconCustomer Spotlight: Davidson County Government + Link Encryption

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Customer Spotlight: Davidson County Government + Link Encryption

Located in the heart of the Piedmont and part of the Uwharrie Mountains, Davidson County is known to most for its fantastic barbecue selection and connection to the furniture industry of North Carolina. With a population of 150,000 residents, Davidson County is the home of NASCAR race teams and The Lexington Barbecue Festival, which brings over 200,000 visitors annually to the streets of the downtown district. With this influx of visitors and its growing population, the availability of county resources and services is of utmost importance to Davidson County. Mission-critical services include 911 and emergency response services, law enforcement, and a secured infrastructure managed and protected by Davidson County’s IT Department.

Hartley and Team showing off the server room to Jennifer Minella, VP of Engineering from Carolina Advanced Digital.

Hartley and Team showing off the server room to Jennifer Minella, VP of Engineering from Carolina Advanced Digital.

Davidson County’s IT Department has been the recipient of awards such as the Digital Counties Survey, where Davidson County placed eighth this year by demonstrating its ability to utilize digital technologies to serve their citizens and increase the efficiency of county operations. Other acknowledgments include the Government Innovation Grant Award (GIGa) Innovation Showcase, where applicants submit original ideas to a panel of CIOs from across the state and winners receive a grant that goes towards the proposed projects. Davidson County IT proposed a paperless agenda solution that saved the County thousands annually in printing costs and reduced paper waste.

Recently Carolina Advanced Digital, Inc. was selected by Davidson County’s CIO, Joel Hartley to work on a new encryption project to satisfy new security requirements set forth by the Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division of the U.S Department of Justice. Hartley, who has been with the Davidson County IT Department since the department was added in 1995, has become part of Carolina Advanced Digital family. “It was an easy choice to pick Carolina Advanced Digital’s assistance for this project. Past networking projects have always been successful,” states Hartley.

With the newest security requirements released by CJIS, every town, city, and county government in the United States that handles or accesses criminal records is required to meet the policy’s standards by September 30, 2013. One such standard required CJIS information transmitted outside of any physically-secured government building or structure to be encrypted in transit.

The task at hand was to prepare Davidson County with the best technology for the job, and Carolina Advanced Digital was up for the challenge of securing all locations with CJIS data.

The link encryption project included multiple network segments across six buildings, a mix of private and leased fiber, and a variety of users and devices. VP of Engineering Jennifer Minella, CISSP met with the Davidson County IT team to identify the locations of CJI data, discuss data access methods and user behavior, review CJIS standards and discuss link encryption options.

Collaboration at its best!

Collaboration at its best!

After a careful review of the project requirements, timeline and budget, the Carolina Advanced Digital Pro Services team evaluated several options and settled on a hardware solution offering fast ASIC-based encryption on a SonicWALL platform. “Their biggest concern was how the overhead of encryption might impact network performance” Jennifer noted. “Whatever solution we chose, we knew it needed to offer wire-speed AES encryption, and the SonicWALL UTM platform was proven, offered fast encryption affordably and fit in with other devices already managed by the Davidson IT team.” A week after the project completion, Joel reported zero performance issues and said users were not impacted.

Past joint projects with Carolina Advanced Digital and Davidson County made this one go much faster. Carolina Advanced Digital worked with Hartley to do a full network upgrade a few years ago and a robust wireless implementation at Davidson County in 2012. “Even between projects, we stay in close contact in support of their network changes. They do a stellar job with change management and documenting their network changes, and that in combination with our familiarity of the environment certainly made things easier,” Mrs. Minella said of the relationship with Davidson County IT.

“Without the previous [networking] project, this wouldn’t have a swift transition,” Hartley added. “The project itself took one and a half days for five buildings across Davidson County, a huge feat completed by Carolina Advanced Digital.”

Hartley showing off the handiwork of his team, Jeremy Shillinglaw, Adam Allred and Daniel Parrish.

Hartley showing off the handiwork of his team, Jeremy Shillinglaw, Adam Allred and Daniel Parrish.

“The sentiments here and success of the project give credence our strategic value of lifelong relationships with clients,” said John Jabbusch, President and Chief Engineer of Carolina Advanced Digital. Relationships and customer-centric solutions have been a keystone of Jabbusch’s strategy for success at Carolina Advanced Digital.

Since their first project together, Carolina Advanced Digital has been Hartley’s go-to partner and has provided other solutions such as log management from Solarwinds and a state-of- the-art wireless network from Meru Networks. “Due to Meru’s wireless being so powerful, police officers can access the wireless from outside of the building,” states Hartley. The enterprise level wireless security also helped the County meet some of the CJIS requirements. Police vehicles are considered “secured locations”, so any transmission outside the vehicle to a secured County facility must be encrypted appropriately, and the robust features of the Meru Networks wireless solution was already offering that protection.

Most importantly, the Davidson County crew has become a valued customer of Carolina Advanced Digital over the years. Whether at a conference or sharing a plate of barbecue, both of them look forward to more future projects. “It really was an easy decision. The people are easy to work with and smart,” He added. “They always go over and beyond,” Joel says of the Carolina Advanced Digital team.