Communications Flight lands two LAN pilot projects

  • Published
  • By Capt. Shawn Strahle
  • 183rd Communications Flight
The 183rd Fighter Wing, Communications Flight has the honor of being selected to be the pilot unit for the testing and deployment of the Network Control Center Reconstruction (NCC-R) project and Desktop Alert Emergency Notification System for all Air National Guard units. This project is an exciting move forward in our existing server technology that brings our NCC server architecture up to speed with the latest advancements. The backbone of the project is the virtualization operating system, which runs our server operating systems. The use of virtual servers has been used in the IT industry and educational environments for the several years and has proven very effective. The basic virtual machine (VM) technology allows you to run multiple servers on a single piece of physical server hardware. For example, with one physical server and with enough resources (memory, hard drive space, and processing power) it can run 10-15 virtual servers. This results in increased server capacity for a reduced hardware investment. Reducing the physical hardware needs of the NCC also benefits the use of electrical consumption. Server rooms are known for their need of large amounts of cooling due to the fact that the servers put out a lot of heat. The NCC-R will make a large impact on the level of AC units needed to keep the server room at the proper temperature level.

The NCC-R project is much more than that though. We currently have 25 physical servers in our NCC. With the initial deployment of this project we are migrating 15 of them to the VM environment. NCC-R added a server rack of five servers with the latest physical design technology into a shared hardware resource pool. This will provide our needed redundancy in the event we have a hardware failure with one or more servers, the VM servers will continue to operate as normal. With the amount of processor power, memory, and hard drive space we could easily run over 100 VM servers with the NCC-R. The new server technology in the VM environment will also increase the performance of applications. Web servers, database, and all of our applications that currently run on individual hardware servers, will benefit by the migration to the NCC-R. Along with the server hardware you need storage, so we have added two Storage Area Network (SANs) to the infrastructure. These are basically large hard drive storage devices in the multiple-terabyte range. One is located with the servers in the NCC as the primary storage array and the other is used offsite as a backup. The NCC-R project allows us to improve and fill out our Continuity of Operations (COOP) in case of a catastrophic failure with the primary NCC. We are also putting into operation features in Microsoft server operating system that will make the recovery of deleted files easier for the base users.

The Desktop Alert System software will be hosted on our VM servers and is used to provide computer pop-up, email, text message, phone, and base paging alerts for various situations. This system is already used extensively by the Air Force for accountability and disseminating emergency information. It will increase our ability to communicate critical information such as: weather delays, force protection changes, base utility outages, and any other vital news to the wing personnel. The program uses a phased approach: the first phase is computer desktop implementation followed by telephone contact accountability and the last phase will be the base paging system.

Upgrading the Information Technology infrastructure for the 183rd will enhance our ability to support our new mission tasking and meet the any future growth.