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Distributed Hosting

Service Description

DIT provides managed and un-managed hosting solutions for NC State agencies, Local and County Governments, and Community Colleges’ applications.  We provide multiple platforms geared to meet customer computing needs on a 24x7 basis. These platforms provide customers options to meet their various needs whether those are singular systems or multi-tiered systems, all of which can be configured as Highly Available (HA) solutions, Disaster Recovery (D/R) solutions, on-premise DIT-cloud self-service/self-managed solutions for test/development environments, or managed solutions that are patched, monitored, and created in a safe, secure environment.

For the DIT-managed solutions, the hosting team provides a complete managed service from the OS-level down whether the system is physical or virtual.  Virtual solutions offer more flexibility with respect to turn-around time on the initial creation and more flexibility in the event of an underlying hardware issue by allowing movement of the virtual system to other hardware to provide almost continuous service.  DIT recognizes that some application scenarios require physical system(s) for one or more tiers in the application.  If needed, those can be procured, installed, and connected to meet the application or vendor requirements.  Those systems can be either DIT-managed or the agency can choose to manage the systems.  If the agency manages the systems, they control patching, updates, etc., to ensure the system is kept current with OS and Security patches. 

For DIT-Managed, distributed hosting solutions, we offer the following operating system / server platforms:

  • AIX on IBM p-Series servers
  • Linux on x86 servers (Currently RedHat)
  • Solaris on x86 or SPARC servers
  • Windows on x86 servers

DIT also offers user-managed virtual systems on the DIT on-premise cloud.  The DIT on-premise cloud is specifically designed for test/development (non-production) environments.  The DIT on-premise cloud offers the user the ability to quickly spin-up or spin-down singular systems or multi-tiered system with a choice of configurations for CPU, Memory, and storage.  The advantages are that the user has complete control of the system(s) and are charged per system daily (rather than monthly).  For the user-managed DIT on-premise cloud, we offer the following operating system / server platforms the user can choose:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7
  • MS Windows 2012 or 2016
  • MS SQL Server (2012 or 2016)
  • Oracle 12c

For all new DIT-managed requests, an agency will be highly encouraged to utilize the latest version of the Operating System that is available and supported by DIT.  Requests for Operating Systems that are greater than 1 revision prior than the current version is discouraged due to Security concerns and the shortened longevity of the OS. 

Benefits of DIT-Managed Systems

  • Distributed Hosting offers fully managed hosting solutions for agencies from the Operating system down.  This allows an agency’s staff to concentrate on these systems at the application level.
  • For DIT-managed systems that include DIT-managed databases, the same approach is utilized where the database is installed with a base configuration.  The user is then responsible for the application level components of the database (creating tables, links, functions, etc.).
  • All OS patches, Database patches, Security patches, system configuration changes, connectivity, firewall configuration & changes, replacement, etc., are managed by DIT personnel.  All changes, including patches, go through a rigorous Change Control process that includes sufficient lead-time, an internal approval process, back-out plans, etc. for all changes.
  • DIT staff will upgrade the Operating System itself at the request of the user or will work with the user if the OS is targeted to go out of support.  In either case, DIT staff will work closely with the user for an upgrade time-frame and then process it through the DIT Change Control
  • DIT staff will also upgrade the database system itself at the request of the user or will work with the user if the database is targeted to go out of support.  In either case, DIT staff will work closely with the user for an upgrade time-frame and then process it through the DIT Change Control.
  • Distributed Hosting currently maintains over 2000 virtual hosts for agencies throughout North Carolina and monitors the available capacity versus the consumed capacity. As application demand increases, DIT can easily offer expansion and configuration options to meet citizen (or user) needs.

Benefits of User-Managed Systems

  • Distributed Hosting now offers a self-service on-premise cloud targeting agency needs for test/development or proof-of-concept environments.  Once an agency goes through the on-board process, agency-approved users can create and destroy virtual systems as needed.
  • Virtual systems can be created within 15-20 minutes once the configuration options are chosen.
  • The environment can provide a work-flow for agencies that need or desire further approval on virtual system creation from an agency-approved user.  As an example, an agency-approved system administrator selects 3 virtual systems, but the creation of those systems is delayed until the secondary approver (perhaps a CFO) also approves.  Setting up an approval work-flow is not required, but is an option some agencies may want to consider.
  • User-managed systems have the same CPU/memory/storage changes as DIT-managed (the management charges are a separate rate) except that these are charged per-day.  If an agency only needs an environment for 10 days and then deletes it, they are only charged for 10-days of CPU/memory/storage use, not a month.
  •  Agencies can use the environment to test upgrades to applications so if there is a concern on upgrading a database or an OS for an application, the agency can quickly create two environments, test the upgrade, and then destroy them.  Using SQL Server as an example, an agency can test an upgrade from SQL Server 2012 to 2016 easily in this environment and determine if there are any issues.
  • All images that a user can create are kept current with respect to patching (security, database, OS-level).

Storage and Backups

We offer a wide variety of storage capabilities to support Mainframe and Distributed Hosting environments. These capabilities include both dedicated physical and virtual hosting offerings. We provide multiple disk and tape tiers such as high-end disk storage, virtual tape, mid-range disk storage, Storage Area Network (SAN) attached storage, and mid-to-high latency extremely low-cost storage (StorSimple).

All hosting environments can be integrated with storage, backup, and archive services. Business continuity requirements for business-critical applications and disaster recovery capabilities can be achieved via leverage of the geographically-dispersed Eastern and Western Data Centers, redundant high-speed networking, and enterprise backups and data mirroring across storage environments.

Backup/Data Recovery is available based on requirements. Standard media rotation and retention schedule is as follows:

  • Daily incremental backups — retained off-site for two weeks
    • Daily incremental backups are not retained longer than two weeks unless requested
    • Backups run Monday through Saturday
  • Full backups are performed weekly and retained off-site for 1 month (1 copy per week)
  • Backups moved off-site daily

Support and Maintenance

Our support and maintenance are included with Distributed Hosting. These areas include hardware, operating system, performance and system monitoring, and security vulnerability and scanning.

  • Hardware support and maintenance
    • Our engineers install and set up all server hardware in accordance with industry best practices. Also, in conjunction with the hardware Operating System (OS) vendors, our engineers will apply firmware patches to systems in accordance with state policies and standards.
    • We will also repair or replace any hardware component under warranty shown to be detrimental to the continued operation of a system.
  • Operating system support and maintenance
    • Our engineers, in conjunction with our Information Security and OS Vendors, will apply patches to operating systems in accordance with state policies and standards.
  • Performance and system monitoring
    • We monitor several key items for all servers on the following platforms:
    • Processes and log files can be monitored as requested
    • We monitor several key items for the Server Farm Network
    • Standard fault, configuration, performance and security management monitoring, including:
      • Fault detection with notification to operational personnel and incident ticket creation
      • Archiving device configurations and ensuring security policies are enforced in the configuration
      • Collecting and reporting on performance metrics
      • Syslog collection, storage and analysis
      • Device authentication, authorization and accounting
  • Security, vulnerability and scanning
    • Perform periodic scans of IP addresses under the State of North Carolina's control:
      • We take every precaution to protect the network infrastructure and the machines scanned.
      • Scans are run in the safe mode ensuring minimum impact.
      • Our Information Security (IS) team will coordinate scans through our Change Management process.
      • IS will provide a notification email prior to performing a scan.
      • If an agency does not want an application scanned, the customer will need to follow the Statewide Standards Deviation Reporting process (040106).
      • We make no representation or warranty that vulnerability scans will disclose all vulnerabilities.
    • Provide a monthly executive level and detailed level report of the scanning results to agreed distribution listing
    • Provide consultation on findings and mitigations
    • Track findings according to classification and status

Customers

  • State Agencies
  • Local and County Governments
  • Community Colleges

How Do We Charge?

View Billing Rates for This Service

Next Steps

The Hosting Services Transition (HST) team is the designated point of contact responsible for obtaining official customer requirements for Distributed Hosting services. They are also the initial point of contact if an agency desires to take advantage of the User-managed DIT on-premise cloud.  For the former, a Hosting Services Coordinator will establish a project team and create a formal project plan based on the results of the assessment.  For the latter, a Hosting Services Coordinator will work with the agency and guide them through an on-boarding process.  Note that this process is only required for the initial set-up.  Once an agency has completed the on-boarding process, they are then set to use the DIT-cloud as needed.

  • The Hosting Services Coordinator is available to assist the customer to:
    • Provide ongoing project management and communication between us and the customer organization
    • Manage project plans, help mitigate risks and provide escalation when required
    • Prepare server configurations to meet business requirements and provide cost estimates
    • Manage purchase order requisitions and coordinate with hardware and software vendors for delivery of equipment
    • Guide an agency through the initial on-board process for those agencies that need to utilize the DIT on-premise cloud.

To obtain our services:

  1. Send an email to our Service Desk at dit.Incidents@its.nc.gov requesting consultation from the Hosting Services Implementation group.
  2. A Hosting Services Coordinator will respond directly and schedule a discovery meeting to determine your scope and requirements. You may complete a Customer Questionnaire with your requirements, using either a DocuSign Link (Here) or a PDF form (under "Associated Files" below).
  3. The Hosting Services Coordinator reviews and analyzes the request based on the completed customer questionnaire.
  4. An initial meeting is set up to review these requirements.

Communications and Status

If you are a customer of this service, please visit our Customer Communication Hub to self-register for communications regarding this service and to view Service Status.

Associated Files