VAFB computers to be upgraded

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - The 30th Space Communications Squadron is currently replacing computers and upgrading operating systems across the Vandenberg network.

Because of new policies in the DoD, VAFB is currently upgrading approximately 95 percent of all computer systems on base as well as the system software, to ensure better security.

“We are currently working on refining our processes to make it as easy for the user as possible,” said Greg Walton, 30th SCS IT consultant. “The intent is that when we upgrade the computers throughout the year, we will be able to swap out the machine with little to no interruption in the mission or your ability to do your job. You are used to coming in to work and having certain desktop icons and having printers connected, so when we swap out the equipment we will migrate all of those things to the new machine.”

The team of six individuals, who are working full-time on the project, are currently coordinating with each unit to ensure a smooth transition.

“With larger work centers we have been approaching the upgrades more piecemeal,” said Walton. “We don’t want to upgrade more than 20 or so in a day and interrupt the mission. It can be frustrating for the users when they have work to get done and complications arise or they are offline for extended periods of time. We are flexible in the upgrade process though, we want this to be customer orientated. If there will be time within the unit when work is slower, that is when we can upgrade. It can be interesting working with the diverse operations tempos we have on base.”

Every day presents unique challenges for the team, who rely heavily on constant communication and adaptability.  

“For us the biggest challenge was getting our processes down so we could identify every unit on base,” said Walton. “If they are on our network, they are getting new computers. Our network is going to be standardized. The goal is to upgrade everyone to a Windows 10 base platform to ensure that everyone on the Vandenberg network is up to standard for security and compatibility. It can be a bit rough for the small team we have – we do a lot of tag-teaming and multi-tasking.”

Unit points of contact are critical in the network transition; they gather information and coordinate with the 30th SCS.

“Every organization needed a point of contact, and then we had to outline all the information we needed from them,” said Cynthia Dier, 30th SCS project manager. “They really are making this a smooth process, without our POCs this would have been astronomically more difficult. Once we get the information from the unit POC we can start addressing the actual upgrades. It is a one-for-one swap, so as soon as we get the information we start the next steps. We are currently more than 21 percent complete and have already rolled out 1,000 systems.”

Although most of the new computers will be laptops, the rules for teleworking are subject to commander approval beforehand.

“Off-network home-use is up to the discretion of each unit’s commander,” said Dier. “The laptops will have the ability to connect to home wireless internet, however, the use of flash drives and other unauthorized media will still lock up the laptop and get it kicked off our network. Treat the laptop the same way you treat your desktop and you won’t have anything to worry about.”