As an informal Young County Commissioners Court meeting rounded into its second half Monday morning, the familiar subject of digital data storage became a resounding focal point.

When officials discussed the possibility of shifting to cloud-based, or off-site digital data storage last month, the overall tone carried with it less urgency than Monday's discussion did.

As Young County IT Director Eric Steadham approached the court at about 10:30 Monday morning, he informed all five members that not only was their current storage system, an IBM AS/400 server, bursting at the seams, but it was also headed quickly to antiquity. Off-site storage is the future, Steadham told the court, and the court seemed to take him seriously.

“The importance of going to the cloud is mainly in data preservation,” Steadham said Monday after the meeting. “It's the idea of exporting your data to a secure location and having data redundancy (having it backed up multiple times) in the event of any sort of catastrophe.”

That assurance of safe, off-site data storage is fast becoming a necessity that allows local governments to continue running uninterrupted in the event of a catastrophic event, Steadham said.

“In terms of budget, there's a small increase yearly (for Young County), but in the event that we have to purchase another AS/400, which, on average can cost anywhere from $130,000 to $150,000, if you look at it from the aspect of what we're saving by going to this, then we have 6 to 7 years of savings just by not having to purchase all new equipment,” he said.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.