FORT LEE, Va. – A network upgrade project beginning here Aug. 11 will result in greater security, reliability and efficiency of computer connectivity throughout the installation.
Offering details, Network Enterprise Center Project Manager Todd Tassell said it will take about two months to replace over 1,500 outdated Cisco network switches with more reliable Juniper models. Simply explained, computer network switches provide connectivity between devices and allows them to “talk” through the exchange of data packets. It’s how networked computers are able to share the same printer, for example, or have access to a remote group storage drive.
“This modernization effort will increase the efficiency, security, predictability and reliability of the Fort Lee installation network by upgrading legacy devices and systems currently being used,” Tassell said. “The end result is that users will be able to connect to a network that is more efficient, secure and reliable, which will make their day-to-day computing tasks easier in an ever expanding information technology driven environment critical in supporting the training of our future warfighters.”
When the replacement project is underway, the impact on day-to-day computer use should be minimal, according to Tassell. “Over the last year, NEC-Lee in conjunction with the fielding team has done multiple site surveys, planning and testing to ensure the process will go as smoothly as possible,” he said.
There will be sporadic network outages impacting individual buildings during the project, Tassell noted; however, no system-wide outages are necessary or anticipated. The plan is to do groups of buildings using a predetermined and agreed upon schedule. Notification procedures are in place so that users should be warned in advance of any possible outage.
“We will distribute Authorized Service Interruption, or ASI, notices through Information Management Officers for dissemination,” he said. “It is their responsibility to inform users in their area of a potential outage; and when that happens, by the way, it should not be for long because we can perform cutover to the new switches fairly quickly. More in-depth work that could cause a longer outage in key organizations or buildings will be done after hours so as to minimize impact. Notification for these larger projects also will be sent through the IMO network.”
Tassell said individual network users will be happy to hear there are no preparatory steps they need to take for the switch replacement project. “We only ask that you communicate with your organization’s IMO if you have any questions about this or any other possible upgrade/outage in the future.”
In rare cases of an outage, he urged users to be patient, and reiterated that if it’s not during the upgrade project timeframe scheduled for the building/organization, submit a ticket through the Army Enterprise Service Desk (AESD) for resolution.
“I think we (Fort Lee) are very fortunate to be going through this upgrade,” Tassell offered in closing. “This is a multi-million-dollar project and is part of NETCOM and the Army’s continuing efforts to upgrade our IT infrastructure to assist us in our primary mission of training today’s warfighters. Fort Lee’s importance to the Army and Department of Defense is a key reason why we were selected to upgrade early in the ongoing process to stay current in today’s ever changing technology world.”