844th CG transitions to Shared Computing Environment

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Tammie Moore
  • Air Force District of Washington Public Affairs
The Air Force District of Washington commander and communications experts from the installation gathered to officially open the Shared Computing Environment at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 24.

"The 844th Communication Group set out to create a stable, secure environment that was simplified, scalable and in line with the Defense Department's Joint Information Environment," said John Rogers, 844th CG chief technology officer.

The SCE is a single security architecture which is part of some visionary modernization projects taking place on JBA and at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, D.C. In simple terms, the new system which is being rolled out in four phases, is created to eliminate user outages.

"It is built not to fail; it is built to be redundant across the board," said Staff Sgt. Julian Smith, 744th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of the SCE.

The SCE is still in the implementation phase, but the foundations have been online since the beginning of April, said Smith. In the long run this will make it quicker for customers to access all of their resources. When it is fully operational, customers shouldn't have random things like email outages or not being able to access files on a shared drive, said Smith.

"The SCE architecture now provides both unclassified and classified network operations for the 320th Air Expeditionary Wing, Northern Command's conduit for emergency response in the National Capital Region," Rogers said.

At JBA the SCE architecture reduces the hardware footprint and increases the 844th CG's support capacity to from 75,000 users to more than 200,000 users along the Eastern United States.

"(Here) in just the last two years, the SCE eliminated the need for (more than) 700 standalone servers, avoiding over $300 million in technical refresh to replace the end-of-life equipment," Rogers said. "As the SCE is implemented at Air Force bases around the world, similar savings in hardware will be recognized as standalone equipment is eliminated and capacity is significantly increased."

However, the establishing the SCE here was not simply a matter of installing new equipment. None of the Airmen in the 844th CG knew how to manage the new system.

"This is not something they learn in technical school," said Lt. Col. Pamella Zane, 744th CS commander. "They learned this on their own as we went through the process. Then they created their own training videos and documents."

In addition, in the first year of standing up the SCE there have been other noticeable savings. The new server reduced power usage by more than 50 percent and cooling requirements decreased more than 60 percent. At the same time this use of this technology and managed virtual services, has nearly doubled the amount of available storage space to customers while improving information access times by more than 800 percent. 

"This initiative set new processing standards across the Air Force Network Enterprise," Rogers said. "The new architecture will be baselined as the Air Force standard, replacing an antiquated and inefficient structure while creating a fully secure, sustainable, and redundant operational environment for each installation's cyber missions."