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Storage solution: New equipment saves space, energy

Darren Porter, left, and Hal Sultzbach, both storage area network administrators in the 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate, look at a new system in the Data Center that is saving space and money plus increasing data storage efficiency for thousands of Tinker personnel.  At two-feet wide, roughly half the size of its predecessor, the storage system still holds more information but takes up less space and uses less electricity.  According to Mr. Sultzbach, after the new system was installed, energy consumption was nearly cut in half. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

Darren Porter, left, and Hal Sultzbach, both storage area network administrators in the 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate, look at a new system in the Data Center that is saving space and money plus increasing data storage efficiency for thousands of Tinker personnel. At two-feet wide, roughly half the size of its predecessor, the storage system still holds more information but takes up less space and uses less electricity. According to Mr. Sultzbach, after the new system was installed, energy consumption was nearly cut in half. (Air Force photo by Margo Wright)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 72nd Air Base Wing Communications Directorate has acquired new computer equipment that occupies one-fourth as much space, uses 29 percent less energy and provides as much data storage capacity as the equipment it replaced.

"Our old equipment had a huge physical footprint, took a lot of power to operate and generated a lot of heat," said Bobby Miley, 72nd ABW/SC storage administrator.
The new computer storage cabinet replaces four older storage cabinets that were in an annex to Bldg. 3705 and were cooled with a pair of portable air conditioners.

In comparison, the new data storage rack, which is full of computer hard drives, was installed alongside other computer cabinets in the centrally air-conditioned Data Center in Bldg. 3705.

The four old cabinets took up 144 cubic feet of floor space in the Data Center. In comparison, the new cabinet, which is 6 feet tall, 2 feet wide and 3 feet deep, occupies only 36 cubic feet of floor space in the center.

The older cabinets consumed an average of 8,900 volts/amps, while the new unit operates at an average of 6,300 volts/amps, Mr. Miley said. The electric current to drive the old equipment ran at an average of 79 amperes, compared to 53 amps for the new equipment, he said.

The reduction "enabled us to free up some much-needed physical space in our data room, as well as reduce power and cooling requirements," Mr. Miley noted.
Additional savings will accrue on manpower, parts and technical updates, he said, because three sets of technology have been whittled to one.

"We migrated about 50 terabytes of data" from the older production servers to the new data storage cabinet, Mr. Miley continued. It took about six months to copy all of the data from the four older servers to the one new array.

The computer equipment stores data from many applications across the base supporting Depot Maintenance, Engineering, Supply Chain Management, E-3 tracking and many others all supporting Team Tinker and its associate units. "These applications support various Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center units, as well as the 76th Maintenance Wing and the 72nd Air Base Wing," Mr. Miley said.

The transition to the new, energy-efficient equipment occurred after Scott Gill, section chief of the Communications Directorate's testing section, applied for a "tech refresh" of the directorate's older storage equipment, in particular its Storage Attached Network and Network Attached Storage equipment. Data storage equipment needs to be replaced every three to five years, Mr. Miley indicated.

The update was coordinated by the Application Server Exchange, which is a combined effort of Software Development and the Testing Section. The project involved the system administration team (Windows and UNIX alike), the database team (both SQL and Oracle), the Quality Assurance team, the Configuration Management team and software developers.

In particular, Mr. Miley singled out David Hawkins, Michael Scopel, Jon Burkhart, Darren Porter, Hal Sultzbach, Darrell Horn and John Robertson, all of the Testing Section and Jeff Howard in Software Development.

"This is another great example of our folks grabbing hold of a vision and making it reality," said Mike Doolin, 72nd ABW/SC director. "Our Air Force has adopted a culture of continuous process improvement and this project highlights a high-performing organization willing to incorporate multiple goals like energy efficiency and data center consolidation into an integrated solution while continuing to meet or exceed our customers' expectations."