9,000 hours and an 18-month upgrade prove fruitful for the FED

Aaron Aguilar, Information Technology Specialist/Telecommunication Officer works in one of the District's telecommunications rooms.
Aaron Aguilar, Information Technology Specialist/Telecommunication Officer works in one of the District's telecommunications rooms.

9,000 hours and an 18-month upgrade prove fruitful for the FED

by Edwyna Brooks
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Far East District

In 2019, the FED developed a comprehensive plan to identify and subsequently fortify its technological vulnerabilities. This ongoing plan of action spanned 18 months and has involved the onboarding of six new IMO specialists dedicated to the new endeavor.

The team’s existing personnel was sent to Cyber Security, VMware, Red Hat Linux, and other training to optimize the department’s technical capabilities. Additionally, the FED’s growing information technology requirements warranted an expansion of its virtual hardware and storage, leading to a $200,000 data center expansion.

“The revamp has increased security and the speed of the systems we’re using”, says Denny Headrick, Application Administrator and Information Management Operations for the District.

This acquisition expanded the VMware clusters in both the District’s primary and secondary sites and resulted in an additional 32 logical central processing units, 18 terabytes of solid-state storage, and an increase of 30 terabytes standard storage increase at each location.

An additional $460,000 purchase was initiated to put in effect a modern backup solution for FED servers on a daily and weekly basis that would also retain data in the event of a catastrophic system failure. This item was received in February of 2020 and placed into use one short month later in March. This system now backs up 50 servers daily and has the capability to restore anything from single files to entire servers. Upgrades in the team’s SharePoint application cleared the system’s high-security vulnerabilities; meeting all current security standards.

“In this digital age it is essential for us to have fast, secure and reliable computers and networks and this effort greatly increased all of those things for the Far East District. This effort allows our great engineers, designers, and other personnel to perform excellent work,” says Edward Stayton, Chief of Operations Service Branch.

Mr. Stayton and his staff of 8 have currently invested over 9,000 man-hours into the IMO overhaul due to be completed in April 2021.

Edward says, “At the start of this project there were many varied things to be done without ample time or resources to do them. As a team, we decided which tasks took priority, we worked on those until completion and then moved on down the list. The challenge was keeping the momentum for the team but through informal team member sessions and weekly formal meetings, we kept the entire team informed and on track with our progress.”

“Our IMO section has undergone a Herculean effort to upgrade, repair, and modernize our network over the past 18-24 months. We have invested a lot of time, money and sweat-equity improving our systems and it has been a huge success,” says Deputy Commander, Lt. Col. Dennis McGee.

This extensive project was seamless for the teams outside of the IMO Branch.

Denny Headrick remarks, “It’s always rewarding in IT when you can perform a major upgrade without the majority of people being impacted. We had so few issues, most people were unaware of the upgrade.”

The IMO Branch is to be commended for their gargantuan effort, set to be concluded in April 2021.

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