DOE facility sees powerful savings in the cloud

The Energy Department’s Richland Operations Office in Washington State could save 60 percent a year in network costs by moving to a federal community cloud, according to Gene Higgins, RL Infrastructure program manager.

In November 2011, the Richland offices moved federal staff to the Hanford Federal Cloud (HFNet). HFNet is a tenant on the HFCloud, which is a community cloud, giving federal users and contractors secure access to information.

HFCloud focuses on integrating site-wide video, data and voice services, and consolidates the functionality and management of computer resources at a central location. Users can access data and applications via their individual hardware such as thin-client, smart phone, or laptop.


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The improvements give workers access to data and information at the point of performance and increase worker productivity and mobility in remote areas of the Hanford Site, home to nine former nuclear reactors and their associated processing facilities that were built beginning in 1943.

The Richland Operations Office oversees the projects associated with cleaning up the reactors, the soil, the groundwater, and the solid waste burial sites. RL also manages the demolition of facilities, and the disposition of the remaining plutonium left on the Hanford Site.

“Cloud computing coupled with the thin-client technology will significantly reduce the cost of refreshing or replacing 9,000 computers deployed across the Hanford Network.” Higgins said.

Initial projections over the next four years indicate about $12 million in total cost saving, DOE officials said.

The savings include:

  • Reducing CO2 emissions by 3 million pounds.
  • Reducing power by 2 million kilowatt hours.
  • 30 percent reduction in the total cost of ownership.
  • 48 percent reduction in operating expenses.

The money being saved will be available for Hanford Site cleanup activities, DOE officials said.

Cloud computing is one of a number of actions that Hanford managers are taking to reduce operating costs at the site. It is part of a larger IT program completed in 2011, more than eight years ahead of schedule, which will result in a 35 percent reduction in overall IT operations and maintenance service costs, DOE officials said.

“HFCloud computing allows the government to save money, work more efficiently and maintain better security for its data” said Frank Armijo, president and general manager for the Mission Support Alliance.

The Mission Support Alliance (MSA) is responsible for the Hanford Site’s infrastructure support services and facilitated the transition for the DOE-RL. As part of their mission, MSA is responsible for providing IT Services at Hanford.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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