Hall County is purchasing 100 laptops for county employees working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The purchase will cost $110,298.
The new technology is needed, said Doug Drudik, director of information technology.
“We have laptops that have been in use for a number of years here,” Drudik said. “They became much more critical during the time our building was closed down and social distancing started for COVID-19.”
Some of these county laptops had been retired and set aside.
“We thought, ‘We may not need this laptop or that laptop,’” Drudik said. “Unfortunately, we had to bring a number of them out of retirement and it’s clear the laptops just didn’t perform as well as they could have.”
Many county employees are using the laptops to work from home.
“Maybe it’s not full time like when the buildings were closed, but some are still using them, especially in the probation department,” Drudik said. “Some people are still using them to remote in at night to catch up on work because of the increased workload from after we opened.”
An upgrade was inevitable.
The old laptops largely run on Windows 7, as opposed to the current Windows 10, which creates concerns about security, Drudik said.
Many of the laptops have been in use for 10 years or longer.
Soon, the county will not be able to keep up with security updates and BIOS (basic input/output system) updates.
Manufacturers likely will cancel support for the retired products.
The county would not be in security compliance then, which remains a priority.
“Instead of seeking replacement units, like we did in the past, where we tried to get eight to 10 years out of a unit, we’ll probably be forced to shorten that to five years, maybe even four, depending on the lifecycle of the product,” Drudik said.
There is a worry, too, about replacing only a few now and needing more later.
“Let’s say I replace 20 at a time, and come November we need to replace another 60,” Drudik said. “I may not be able to order those laptops when they’re needed because other people are requesting the same elsewhere.”
Dell Computers remains the lowest cost option for the county.
The company offered the county a 10% discount if the laptops were purchased now, ahead of the busy purchasing season for school districts and other governmental entities.
“The discount was offered so we would frankly not delay until October or November because, from their standpoint, they’re concerned as well with supply at that time. They’re looking to move this forward now,” Drudik said. “It fit with what our interests are.”
It is not the county’s largest hardware purchase.
“It’s in the mid-range,” Drudik said. “We had 275 desktops we replaced last year. That was our most considerable hardware purchase. But we don’t make purchases like this very often, if at all.”
Drudik expects new laptops to arrive in late August.
“My hope is, by the end of August, I have the laptops in and beginning the imaging process,” he said. “When a laptop or desktop comes into the county, it will come with software from the manufacturer that may have a number of packages we need to remove for security purposes or some bloatware.”
The county’s employees appreciate the purchase being approved by county commissioners, Drudik said.
“One of the pluses is, we don’t have to do these refreshes very often,” he said, “so when we do request them, they understand that we’ve waited as long as we can and now is the time to do this.”