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Posted: 5/18/2011
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County of San Diego County Solves Security Risks with Database Migration, Saves $280,000 in Upgrade Costs

The County of San Diego values a secure, reliable IT infrastructure that helps employees provide efficient services to residents. However, it faced security risks with several business applications running on an unsupported Oracle 8i database. Instead of upgrading to the latest version of Oracle, the county migrated the applications to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise, saving money, improving reliability, and ensuring optimal employee productivity.

Business Needs
As a local government, the County of San Diego values efficiency, innovation, and fiscal discipline in the delivery of services to its residents. The county’s IT department provides cost-effective, reliable, and secure business applications for its employees to work more productively.

The IT department maintains more than 400 applications running in a heterogeneous database management system (DBMS) environment that includes the Microsoft SQL Server data management software and Oracle, a situation that requires two different DBMS skill sets. However, due to the cost of upgrading Oracle licenses, some of the county’s applications were running on an older unsupported version of Oracle 8i. These included EASIER, an air emissions inventory application used to calculate toxic emissions of regulated businesses, and the Absence and Overtime Collection application (AOTC) that the county’s auditors and controllers use to process employees’ overtime reports and requests for time off.

Another unsupported application, ERMXtender, is used by the Auditor & Controller department to generate reports. “The ERMXtender application was running on both Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server 2008 environments, with the majority of users on the SQL Server platform,” says Ernest Solomon, Department IT Coordinator in the Auditor and Controller Department at the County of San Diego.

Finally, the third-party EMC ApplicationXtender system, used by the Auditor & Controller and Treasurer-Tax Collector departments for the capture, storage, viewing, and management of documents, also ran on Oracle 8i. These important business applications affect county employees’ productivity.

“These applications were running on an unsupported version of Oracle and the company was no longer releasing security updates for it,” says Valerie Kohls, Technology Manager at the County of San Diego. “This opened up an unacceptable security risk for the county and meant that we were not receiving upgrades for new functionality. We could upgrade to the latest version of Oracle, or we could migrate to a different DBMS altogether.”

The County of San Diego decided to migrate the applications to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise so they would be running in a fully-supported, highly secure database solution. The county had signed a Microsoft Enterprise agreement in June 2009, so it could
* We closed the security gap by migrating the four business applications from Oracle to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and avoided one-time Oracle upgrade costs of $210,000 and $61,000 in Oracle licenses. *

Valerie Kohls
Technology Manager, County of San Diego

take advantage of the SQL Server licenses it already owned. The Enterprise Agreement comes with Software Assurance for Volume Licensing, which includes automatic upgrades to new software versions, ensuring the county’s applications will always be running on the latest database management software from Microsoft.

“Microsoft was the most cost-effective solution for us to mitigate our security risk with the applications running on Oracle 8i,” says Kohls. “To help us migrate the applications to a SQL Server platform, Microsoft recommended we get in touch with Scalability Experts.”

In April 2010, Scalability Experts, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, assessed the county’s environment to determine which applications should be migrated first. Kohls and her team stipulated that the migration had to be transparent to end users. “My concern was that we captured all the AOTC data and converted it properly from Oracle, and we accomplished that,” says Solomon. “The folks from Scalability Experts were very skilled technical people and they had great project management skills.” The entire project took 10 weeks and did not disrupt any of the 365 employees who use the applications on a daily basis.

The County of San Diego turned to Microsoft to quickly and cost-effectively implement a solution to mitigate security risks that could have caused significant impact to its operations. With SQL Server 2008, the county is avoiding costs, improving application performance, and helping ensure efficient delivery of resident services.

Closed security gap, avoided costs. The migration to SQL Server solved a security issue and saved money. “SQL Server 2008 gives us the ability to audit activity in the database system for accountability and compliance,” says Solomon.

“We closed the security gap by migrating the four business applications from Oracle to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and avoided one-time Oracle upgrade costs of U.S.]$210,000 and $61,000 in Oracle licenses,” adds Kohls.

Helped avoid downtime. Migrating to Microsoft SQL Server 2008 was a proactive move that helped the county to avoid prolonged downtime, should an incident occur with one of the applications. Without the latest Oracle updates, IT staff would have had to work harder to create a fix from scratch. “Now that the AOTC [application] is standardized on the SQL Server 2008 environment, we have readily available management skill sets in house to maintain the application at optimal levels,” adds Solomon. “We’d hear about it quickly if our staff faced delays in their requests for absences.”

Improved application performance. “Since ApplicationXtender has been running on Microsoft SQL Server 2008, the log decreased from two to three minutes to approximately 33 seconds,” says Robert Quitasol, Departmental Technology Specialist at the County of San Diego. “This helps with our customers because the faster we can retrieve checks and provide documentation to answer their queries, the better.”

With a more secure, reliable, and robust database solution to support its business applications, the County of San Diego can provide a more dependable IT environment for its employees. The result is continued operational excellence.

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 15000 employees

Organization Profile

As a regional government agency, California’s County of San Diego serves the needs of the region's more than 3 million people. It employs more than 15,000 people.


  • Server: Dell PowerEdge 2950, 6840
  • Desktop: HP DC7900, Dell Optiplex 620/745, Dell Latitude D630, HP Compaq 7900/8000, HP Elitebook 8440p

Software and Services
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise

Vertical Industries
Local Government Agencies

United States

Business Need
Mission Critical


Scalability Experts