This is a guest post by Josh Schmookler, President of ATON Computing, Inc. (IT provider for Passaic County). ATON Computing provides Passaic County, New Jersey, its IT services. Josh has been with ATON Computing for 11 years and currently serves as President, assuming ownership of the firm in February of 2019. He earned a Certified Government Chief Information Officer degree from the University of North Carolina and holds certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and VMware.

About Passaic County: With two data centers serving more than 500,000 citizens, New Jersey’s Passaic County, manages an enormous volume of information about its constituents. ATON Computing has managed the county’s IT infrastructure for years, most recently modernizing its data-storage approach with Pure Storage® technology to set up the organization for long-term success.  

Government offices may have set office hours, but the technologies supporting them behind the scenes are always on. As the outsourced IT provider for Passaic CountyATON Computing is the county’s de-facto technology department, managing everything from its data centers to telephony. 

Data storage is crucial to Passaic County’s operations, especially as more citizens engage with county services online. Until recently, the prospect of delivering always-on data storage was an unattainable dream. The legacy storage systems we were using at ATON Computing to support the county were costly and time-consuming to manage. Meanwhile, the need to refresh Passaic County’s storage every few years left us in a constant state of what we called “maintenance extortion.” We were paying vendors to keep old storage arrays functional while foregoing any real advances in the way we used them.

That all changed when we moved Passaic County’s data over to Pure Storage FlashArray™ and signed up for a Pure Evergreen Storage ™ subscription. Since deploying Pure, our team at ATON Computing has had no forced migrations, no downtime or disruption during upgrades, and the peace of mind that we are always working with the latest features and controllers available.  

From Storage as a Roadblock to Storage as an Enabler

A few years ago, it became clear that what Passaic County wanted to achieve with its IT systems was too advanced for its existing storage solutions. We needed to start fresh and do things right, which is why Pure Evergreen was so attractive. 

With just one implementation, we gained a storage platform for life. No more worrying about capital expenses of a few million dollars for every upgrade, no more disruptive IT refreshes, and less time spent on planning and forecasting. Instead, Passaic County and ATON Computing can focus on what matters most—serving the people.

With just one implementation, we gained a storage platform for life. No more worrying about capital expenses of a few million dollars for every upgrade, no more disruptive IT refreshes, and less time spent on planning and forecasting.Josh Schmookler, President, ATON Computing

In short, we went from storage as a bottleneck to storage as an enabler to offering differentiated service. Passaic County’s IT systems have become more agile and future-proof, which means our team spends less time on system maintenance and upgrades and more time using the technology to drive innovation. We’ve never been more responsive to IT challenges, even as the county’s workloads continue to grow and citizens expect new standards of digital engagement with their government.   

Innovation That Speaks for Itself

What do all of these improvements look like in practice? The move to a subscription-based storage model certainly simplified ATON Computing’s internal processes, but the only way to truly appreciate its impact is to understand what Pure has done for Passaic County’s citizens and government employees. 

The benefit for citizens is clear. Thanks to consolidated IT workloads and faster processes, we’ve helped the county to improve the performance of its public-facing applications such as public-records requests, reporting potholes, and applying for permits. Users can more easily find and use the county services they need on their chosen devices.  

As for Passaic County’s employees and the ATON Computing team, we’ve never been happier. This is the first time we’ve had zero flags raised about slow processes or application response times. Even secondary issues that previously stood in the way of productivity, like upgrade disruptions and time spent troubleshooting new systems, have been eliminated. 

In the words of my colleague Micah Hassinger, operations manager at ATON Computing: “We are over the moon operationally. With Pure, you get all the bells and whistles of a leading storage solution, but they clearly care about the user experience. The interface is all about ease of use and accessing the core functions we need each day. Everyone likes to play with add-ons and ‘nerd knobs,’ but not when they get in the way.”  

It’s rare to see such a dramatic improvement so soon after a new technology implementation. In fact, the only blip we’ve had at ATON Computing since rolling out our Pure solutions was due to human error on our end when a cable in our data center was accidently unplugged. Even then, Pure’s backups kicked in immediately, notification emails went out to all the right people, and a Pure support representative called us instantly to make sure everything was OK. 

This level of responsiveness was yet another confidence booster that we made the right choice, not just in the capabilities of our storage but also our choice of vendor. It’s hard to imagine anyone but Pure could deliver state-of-the-art technology, significant time and cost savings, and a service team that is as invested in Passaic County’s success as we are. 

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