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Giving More and Costing Less: OneNet’s Systems Team

Systems team members (left to right) Jeremy Wright, Skyler Donahue, Brian Burkhart, Bill Bradford, Frank Hedgers and Paul Tibbitts

Systems team members (left to right) Jeremy Wright, Skyler Donahue, Bill Bradford, Brian Burkhart,  Frank Hedges and Paul Tibbitts

Many OneNet customers are the unsung heroes of their communities. These leaders see the value reliable connectivity adds to Oklahoma and take the initiative to learn it to the best of their abilities, but even the best librarians or superintendents can’t always empower their communities, scout out cost savings and perform tasks that are actually in their job descriptions too. That’s where OneNet’s systems group saves the day.

The OneNet systems group manages ‘above-the-net’ services. These services, like web and email hosting, virtual infrastructure and video conferencing support add value to organizations and often provide cost savings too.

OneNet’s Director of Network Systems Brian Burkhart believes cost savings is one of the most valuable tools we provide.

“Our customers are among the least funded, yet most important entities in the state,” he said. “Our aim is to provide services that are better and more relevant than others for a lower cost.”

Offering a wide variety of services means that each team member has a unique specialty.

Paul Tibbitts has been an engineer with OneNet since 2009. He maintains web, email and DNS services for customers, and he’s always looking for ways to meet the needs of organizations while simultaneously providing cost savings.

Paul Tibbitts manages several OneNet services

Paul Tibbitts manages several OneNet services

“Many of our customers either aren’t aware of what services are available or don’t have the resources to start using them on their own, so helping them make use of these services is something we can do to add value,” Tibbitts said.

Many times these tools cost customers nothing, he added.

“Lately a project I’ve been involved with has been migrating many K-12 schools and some higher education customers to Google Apps for Education. Google Apps provides schools with free services. By helping customers move to those services, we can both eliminate the costs the schools pay now for similar services and reduce ongoing resource requirements.”

Skyler Donahue and Jeremy Wright manage video conferencing services for OneNet customers and help customers troubleshoot their technical problems at OneNet’s video support desk. They believe the most enjoyable part of their work is the multi-tasking.

“On any given day I might be a consultant, a technician, a server administrator or a teacher,” Donahue said.

However, just like our customers, each team member can’t be a jack of all trades either. They rely on each other to provide support in different service areas.

“Everyone has different specialties, but we all chip in to get projects done. Jeremy and I both depend on the other members of the systems group for various things,” Donahue said.

Other team members include Frank Hedges, OneNet’s data center manager, and Bill Bradford, who manages our data storage and virtual services.

“We would have a much harder time without them,” Donahue added.

As their leader, Burkhart believes that while they rely heavily on each other, every team member’s flexibility and willingness to learn is the key to their success.

“All of our group members must have expert systems administration skills. Because we support so many services, our engineers have to be agile and able to handle multiple

Frank Hedges manages OneNet's data center.

Frank Hedges manages OneNet’s data center.

different systems.”

The systems group has a common sense of purpose, and Burkhart believes it’s because of the nature of their work. The team is convinced that OneNet customers are some of the most vital to the state of Oklahoma.

“Our customers make us different,” said Burkhart.

Recently, the OneNet systems team provided significant cost-savings to Langston University by providing virtual infrastructure services for their email system. Engineers installed and configured their infrastructure and were then able to pass administration of the service to Langston University staff. Thanks to OneNet, the university no longer pays a monthly fee to an outside vendor to manage their system.

“We have a focused mission on advancing technology and empowering communities. This is especially important in Oklahoma where many of our customers are in hard-to-reach areas and face tight budgets.”

 

Story by Alexandra Franklin, Strategic Planning and Communications Intern, Summer 2016

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