Athens Review, Athens, Texas

November 15, 2012

County IT group asks for website provider change

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

Athens — On election night, Henderson County voters went to the county website to check election results, and left frustrated. On Wednesday, the County Information Technology Committee agreed to ask Commissioners Court to consider changing the company that hosts the county website.

IT Manager Josh Brock said election returns were put online Tuesday, but because of a lack of sufficient bandwidth, Internet users couldn’t access the numbers.  The problems lasted through election night, and into the following day.

Brock said many counties across the state have been using Cirra to host their websites. On election night  the company “throttled down” its bandwidth. Bandwidth throttling is the intentional slowing of Internet service by an Internet service provider. 

Because many Texas Counties were using Cirra for their returns on election night, the service failed. Brock said it was the third time in the past two years that the problem had prevented county residents from getting on-line results on election night.

“They had assured us that they had found the problem of what happened last year, and in the primary,” Brock said. 

Brock said the county has discussed moving its e-mail to Rackspace Hosting, a company from San Antonio.  Because the county is already using Cirra for its website, the initial plan was to go through Cirra to make the e-mail switch. Because of the election night problems, the IT Committee began to look into dealing directly with Rackspace.

Brock said Cirra is an attractive choice for most county websites, because they can use the service for free. Brock, who serves as an advisor to the committee, said the county will have to pay Rackspace for the service, if it makes the change.

The committee also discussed changing the county domain name to one that’s a bit easier for users to remember. A possible choice would be Henderson-County.com. That’s similar to the one now used by Smith County.