Beat The Clock

Beat The Clock

Mobilization response. Systems integrators, audiovisual technicians, furniture designers and cable installers converged on an old blockhouse at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., this month to finish transforming the 1950s-era radar facility into a high-tech help desk.

Year 2000 contingency exercises scheduled for this month and next will bring new usefulness to the relic that once housed a vacuum-tube computer. In the 1950s, a single mainframe took up practically all the space within the 3-foot-thick concrete walls, said Col. Robert F. Glitz, the officer in charge of the conversion that began in late March.

'I won't say we broke rules, but we employed modern management techniques along the way' to meet project deadlines, said Glitz, customer support chief of the Air Force Standard Systems Group's Software Factory Directorate.''

An open house will show off the facility late next month, when many Air Force personnel will be on the base for the annual Air Force Information Technology Conference.'

Hot fusion. SSG has spent much of the last four years getting its Cobol code ready for the century rollover, Glitz said. Finishing the blockhouse conversion is one of the few remaining tasks.

The blockhouse will become a 24-hour help desk with a new name'Fusion Center'rather than a year 2000 crisis center, Glitz said, 'because we don't think it's going to be a crisis.'

Nonetheless, teams of programmers, software testers, configuration managers, ammunition experts and civil engineers will be ready to respond to system problems. Also on duty Dec. 31 will be many of the service's business logic experts, 'who can tell us the best workarounds if a system goes down,' Glitz said.

Coordinated operations. In its role as SSG's 2000 help desk, the Fusion Center will consolidate and reformat trouble-ticket data and, in some cases, pass it on to other Air Force units and Defense Department megacenters.

To coordinate operations at that level, Glitz said, SSG must modify its framework to send data directly from the center's trouble-ticket system, from Remedy Corp. of Mountain View, Calif., to help-desk databases at other Air Force centers and the Defense Information Systems Agency. Glitz said the Fusion Center has until Aug. 1 to convert its Remedy Action Request database manager from Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 to Oracle8.

Level 7 wiring will connect more than 100 workstations running Microsoft Windows NT 4.0. Workers also are installing three diesel generators, 96 phone lines and a digital automatic call distributor for integrating voice with fax and e-mail messages.

'Florence Olsen


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