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NEWS | Oct. 3, 2008

SMS renews conservation effort, energy savings

By Thomas Warner Staff writer

Randolph Air Force Base could aid the Air Force in savings of up to $15 million annually with mandatory computer system shutdowns that resumed this month. 

The Systems Management Server, or SMS, with the capability to turn off work stations overnight to conserve energy, is back in service after a few months of non-use following security upgrades implemented by staff here. 

"Resumption of the power-off initiative is about a balance of base network security as well as budget costs," said Marvin Hepworth, 12th Communications Squadron deputy chief. "When you consider over 13,000 personal computers being left powered-on each night, the costs are astronomical." 

People in workcenters at Randolph have been asked to aid in the energy conservation process by manually turning off monitors and any office equipment and lights not in use before leaving for the day. 

"Very few areas on this base remain operational overnight but there are a few," said Mike Taylor, 12th Communications Squadron network operations chief. 

Places like the command post, fire department and security forces have a 24-hour presence at Randolph, but the SMS system shuts down other dormant work stations after performing any upgrades or security patches that need to be done, Mr. Taylor said. 

Desk lamps, computer screen monitors, radios and other sources add up to high energy costs for the Department of Defense if not properly turned off each evening. These are small measures that can aid the conservation effort. 

"Some people may think that when a monitor goes dark and is in a 'sleep' mode, that's the same as being turned off," Mr. Taylor said. "That's incorrect because energy is still being used to power that device." 

Eventually, perhaps within a year, Randolph will implement a recently purchased "Wake-on" local area network package as its primary energy conservation solution. The Wake-on LAN system is one of many available on the consumer market with capability of restarting dormant work stations for purposes of patching, then shutting them down again for the remainder of the night. 

"Operations systems have vulnerabilities that pop up daily, and we get notifications, and then plan maintenance," Mr. Taylor said. "Some stations are excluded because of their purposes, but this will affect most elements here on base. It translates to huge energy conservation savings that will benefit all of Team Randolph."