Air Force trying to thin out its multiple e-mail servers

Air Force trying to thin out its multiple e-mail servers

By Bill Murray

GCN Staff

Air Force officials are trying to reduce the number of e-mail servers and use remote server administration to lower support costs, and hardware and software purchases.

The Air Force Communications and Information Center is leading the attempt under the Information Technology Summit Project. Its name comes from the IT Summit that Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters and Gen. Michael E. Ryan, the service's chief of staff, held with representatives from Air Force major commands, including the service's active duty, Reserve and Air National Guard components.

In the half-day session, they spoke about how they can use technology to lower the cost of doing business, using commercial firms as a model, said Col. William Cooper, AFCIC's director of systems.

The service's initial goal is to reduce the number of e-mail servers to one server farm per major command on active duty, Air Force Reserve and Air Guard bases, Cooper said. 'Some bases have 40 to 50 e-mail servers. They've grown like weeds,' he said.

At the Pentagon, service officials have recently reduced the number of servers running Microsoft Exchange Server 5.5 from 40 to 20, he said. Air Force officials will re-evaluate the situation early next month and may eventually expand the project.

By June 2003, service officials hope to complete their e-mail server consolidation, Cooper said. The project must use funds from other programs, and he wouldn't disclose how much the Air Force is spending.

Two unnamed Air Force bases are implementing remote server administration pilots that let them provide technical support from headquarters facilities with fewer personnel, Cooper said. Future plans for remote administration will largely depend on how much bandwidth remote bases need to have their e-mail servers remotely administered, he said. Bases are also looking at outsourcing their network administration, he said.

Service officials are working with the Defense Information Systems Agency to determine how much Defense Information Systems Network bandwidth the service will need for remote administration. Getting proper connections through local exchange carriers, has been the biggest problem, Cooper said.

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