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Vienna officials moving financial system to 'the cloud'

Switch is designed to minimize threats, free up town staff

In an effort to boost cybersecurity, the Vienna Town Council on Jan. 29 unanimously agreed to have Tyler Technologies move its software for the town’s financial system to the “cloud.”

Vienna has been using the company’s software since 2015. The town’s Information Technology Department previously had provided hardware, cybersecurity and backup for the financial system.

But the Council agreed with a request from the town’s Finance and Information Technology departments that it would be better to switch from the current hosting on premises to Tyler Technologies “software as a service” cloud hosting.

If the town suffers a cyber-attack, the cloud-based system will provide backup for the financial system and reduce the amount of downtime involved, officials said.

The cloud system also will give end users secure remote access that minimizes virus threats, and will make the Finance and Information Technology departments more efficient by freeing up personnel to perform more value-added tasks, town officials said.

Tyler Technologies serves more than 8,800 organizations – in excess of 3,100 of which have converted their operations to the cloud – and is a big player in the municipal-software market for small- and medium-sized jurisdictions, Vienna officials said.

Locally, the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church and Manassas and towns of Herndon and Leesburg also use the company’s services and the city of Fairfax now is converting to that company, they said.   

Software from Tyler Technologies already handles the town’s systems for reporting, permitting, billing, payments by debit and credit cards, payroll and accounts payable.

Moving the software to the cloud, effective Feb. 1, will require boosting the town’s payment to the company by $23,210, for a total of $137,970 this fiscal year. The move will cost the town more, but result in greater efficiency and a reduction in hardware purchases, officials said.

Council member Charles Anderson heartily approved of moving the financial software to an off-site provider, saying his company did so a few years ago after being hacked.

“It turns out that the cloud is a lot more secure than a private server, because you just can’t keep up with the technology as well with a private server as you can [with] the cloud,” he said.

“If everything is resident on a private server and they bring down the whole system – which is one of the hackers’ favorite little games that they play, and they ask you to pay ransom money to get your system back – you don’t have any backup,” he said. “The cloud gives you infinite backup.”

He added, “This is the way that the world is going. It’s a prudent thing to do for cybersecurity reasons and it’s actually a necessary thing to do.”