Tax Board Looks to Improve Handling of Mission-Critical Data

The California Franchise Tax Board seeks a contractor to help it move off tape and enhance how it stores and handles key data.

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The state tax agency is looking for a contractor to help it create a transformational change in data storage and recovery.

In a Request for Quotation (RFQ) released Dec. 23, the state Franchise Tax Board (FTB) seeks a company to spearhead the ongoing Mainframe Enterprise Tape Library (MF ETL) Refresh Project. Responses are due by 5 p.m. Monday. Among the takeaways:

• The MF ETL combines virtual and magnetic (physical) tape systems, according to a Stage 1 Business Analysis done by the California Department of Technology. “The MF ETL is essential to the multiple mission-critical applications, such as Taxpayer Information (TI), Business Entity Tax System (BETS), and Court Ordered Debt (COD). Additionally, the MF ETL stores data from external sources, such as self-service applications for taxpayers (MyFTB), Department of Technology, Department of Motor Vehicles, and, most importantly, the Internal Revenue Service,” CDT said.

FTB’s virtual tape library system was “moved into End-of-Market” by the manufacturer in January 2016, and it’s estimated support would lapse in December 2019, according to CDT.

“The security and availability of this infrastructure is crucial for FTB to provide connectivity to mission-critical revenue generating systems; which, in turn, allow taxpayers to fulfill their tax obligations timely and securely. Failure of this infrastructure would have high impact to FTB’s revenue and tax programs,” the business analysis found.

In the RFQ, FTB says the Refresh Project’s purpose is “to duplicate (mirror) the functions of the disk/virtual tape hardware” at its central Sacramento office near Rancho Cordova to a site in Vacaville. This, it said, will allow “replication of critical FTB data” and use the agency’s “Open Systems Backup process Wide Area Network (WAN) connection … .”

• Doing so will accomplish two goals. It will eliminate the need for a mainframe physical tape library and mainframe data storage on physical tapes; and do away with “manual handling and shipping” of tapes by the agency and any third-party vendors, reducing any loss or contamination of “mission-critical data.”

• The agency seeks a contractor to offer installation or implementation as well as hardware, warranty, maintenance and support for a new Mainframe Business Class server, aka a central processing unit (CPU) at the Vacaville site. The agency wants an IBM Z14 CPU, and requires the chosen contractor be an IBM authorized reseller.

The new CPU will be used with FTB’s ETL and its direct access storage device for technology recovery. The contractor will be responsible for all costs for “initial installation services” of the CPU; and must provide “a certified processional” with at least three years’ work experience in implementing a CPU. Other contractor responsibilities include working with FTB officials on an installation plan and milestones; highlighting any possible project delays immediately; holding a kickoff meeting within five days after contract award; and providing weekly CPU implementation status reports.

• The RFQ doesn’t specify the contract term or value. However, FTB will evaluate selections on Tuesday, issue a notice of intent to award on Jan. 15, and make the contract award Jan. 24. The RFQ specifies a one-year hardware warranty term including support, and a four-year hardware maintenance term to begin at the warranty’s expiration. According to the business analysis, money for the Refresh Project is expected to come from the general fund and a special fund, in FY 2019-2020.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Techwire.