News Column

AbleTerm working again for county officials

September 3, 2014

By Jon Vanderlaan, Odessa American, Texas

Sept. 03--After going a week without the legacy criminal records-keeping software used to do everything from record calls for service to closing felony cases, the technology was back up and working.

AbleTerm, a product that has long since reached its end-of-life for software updates and support, is still being used by Ector County until the full Odyssey implementation, a project that has been on-again, off-again since 2007 but is expected to be completed by 2016.

So when the server supporting AbleTerm broke on Aug. 24, the county was without the system until a used server could be ordered or until the old one could be fixed.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers said they purchased a new server and are still trying to rebuild the old one so that the two can complement each other in case of such a problem again.

Sheriff Mark Donaldson, arguably the most affected by the outage because prisoners cannot be moved from the jail if the district and county attorneys can't plead cases, said they are now logging the calls for service, warrants and bookings as they always have, and are catching up on the past week they've missed.

"The main thing is that we can actually look people up now and that helps a whole lot," Donaldson said. "Makes it easier in the booking process."

Donaldson said he was notified at about 2:30 p.m. Monday that the server was back up.

Commissioners previously didn't spend money to make sure such a collapse would hurt the county because Odyssey is on the way, Childers said.

"We probably should have already had a redundant server on this thing, but it's kind of hard to spend money on something this old," Childers said. "It's kind of like buying insurance; is it worthwhile? Well, it is if you need it."

The repairs on the old server and purchase of the new server, combined with overtime for county employees, could cost the county between $10,000 and $20,000, Childers said, noting that the cost is an estimate because Ector County may not have to pay for everything if Tyler Technologies or IBM help pick up some of the cost.

All three groups were working throughout the week, Childers said, and it gave them a chance to find a problem in the contract Ector County had with Tyler.

Childers said officials at Tyler thought updating the server was between the county and IBM, whereas the county thought Tyler was updating the server.

But it will be a moot point when the county switches to Odyssey, in what Childers said could be 12 to 14 months before that happens.

"It's always better to be very well prepared, but it's taxpayer dollars," Childers said.

Despite the week without AbleTerm, Childers said the outage may have saved the county some money because they were looking at upgrades anyway, and found some other problems with the server aside from the outage.

€‹Contact Jon Vanderlaan on twitter at @OAcourts, on Facebook at OA Jon Vanderlaan or call 432-333-7763.


(c)2014 the Odessa American (Odessa, Texas)

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Source: Odessa American (TX)

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