By Scott Friend and Charles Smith
Project Director Acquisition, Logistics & Technology Enterprise Systems & Services (PD ALTESS), part of Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems, received three national honors.
The Radford, VA-based ALTESS, a provider of information technology (IT) systems, services, and security for the Army’s acquisition domain, learned in February that it would receive a Government Information Technology Executive Council (GITEC) Project Management Award. Less than a week later, ALTESS’ Service Level Management Branch Chief, Debbie Jenkins, was selected as Pink Elephant Inc.’s Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) Practitioner of the Year. Then, in March, ALTESS was named runner-up for Excellence.gov’s Going Green Award.
ALTESS’ 2011 awards reflect the cutting-edge technologies and peerless support that it provides to warfighters to succeed in their missions.
GITEC Project of the Year: ITIL Implementation
GITEC honored ALTESS’ ITIL process deployments with its annual “Technology That Is Reshaping America: Best Practices in Information Life Cycle Management” Project Management Award. ALTESS received the award for successfully incorporating industry best practices into federal computing.
ALTESS implemented ITIL-based processes and tools in 2007. By 2010, ALTESS had implemented the Service-Level Management, Incident Management, Problem Management, and Change Management processes. BMC Software’s Remedy application, an ITIL-based enterprise solutions tool, was procured and configured to serve as ALTESS’s conduit for service requests, work records, and performance metrics.
The benefits of ALTESS’ ITIL deployments have been far-reaching. After acquiring the BMC Remedy application and designing a mature Change Management process, PD ALTESS’ weekly total of documented changes more than tripled, ensuring effective management of actions affecting the organization and its customers.
ALTESS’ Incident Management process raised the Service Desk’s customer support rating to an unparalleled 92 percent, far above the 45-55 percent average reported in a 2008 Forrester Research study. The Service Desk’s 2.1 million end users include deployed warfighters and high-ranking military officials, and ALTESS’ Incident Management process ensures that the support they receive is prompt and consistent.
Richard T. Eva, ALTESS’ Project Director, recognizes ITIL as a vital tool for providing exceptional service to customers. “It is so critical, when delivering cost-effective IT services, to have efficient documented and measurable processes. ITIL is the methodology that provides us the framework to be successful.”
Pink Elephant ITIL Practitioner of the Year
ALTESS’ workforce is diverse, from accountants to network engineers. Designing a Change Management process suitable for the entire organization was no small undertaking. Had it not been for Debbie Jenkins, ALTESS’ Change Management process might have languished indefinitely in the planning phase.
Jenkins, then ALTESS’ acting Division Chief for the Enterprise Services Division, led a successful effort to produce a Change Management process that would meet each team’s unique needs. For her tireless efforts, Jenkins was awarded Pink Elephant’s prestigious ITIL Practitioner of the Year Award. Pink Elephant provides consulting services focusing on IT management.
Since Change Management was deployed, the average time needed to complete change requests has dwindled from seven days to less than three. Change requests now follow an automated approval cycle that requires multiple reviews before and after implementation. Because of Jenkins’ patience and perseverance, changes to ALTESS’ data infrastructure can be performed more quickly and efficiently than ever.
What Jenkins finds most fulfilling is ALTESS’ support to its customers. “The thing I’m proudest of is the way we’ve been able to use Change Management to improve customer service. We have greater awareness of what goes on in the organization [and] better documentation,” she said.
Excellence.gov: Going Green
From more than 70 nominees, Excellence.gov selected ALTESS as runner-up for its 2011 Going Green Award.
ALTESS’ green energy initiatives began several years ago with the adoption of virtual machine (VM) server technology. Using VMs, ALTESS could house multiple customer systems on a single physical server. In addition to conserving physical space, VMs reduced emissions and energy waste. According to software publisher VMware Inc., virtual machines consume up to 80 percent less energy than traditional servers and can reduce carbon emissions as much as 94 percent.
ALTESS began offering virtualized environments in 2007. By 2012, the organization plans to support 80 percent of its hosted systems on VMs. To cool its VM servers, ALTESS has implemented an in-row cooling solution, using variable-speed fans that operate only as needed. The result is a 43 percent energy saving over standard cooling systems.
Additional energy savings have resulted from upgrades to ALTESS’ lighting and temperature control systems. A new high-efficiency lighting system has reduced the electrical load for facility lighting by 50 percent. Occupancy sensors have been installed to eliminate unnecessary use of lighting and temperature control systems.
Although the green initiatives’ benefits have varied in magnitude, each has contributed to a “big picture” envisioned by ALTESS’ leadership. The ultimate goal of the green project is to create a proven “blueprint,” optimizing the energy efficiency for Army data centers.
Green initiatives implemented thus far have reduced ALTESS’ Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) score to 1.46—far below the 2.0 national average. The facility’s PUE will continue to decrease as additional efficiency initiatives are implemented.
Commitment to the Future
Excellence.gov, GITEC, and Pink Elephant have affirmed ALTESS’ current capability. But to continue providing high-quality support for its 43 customers, 77 supported applications and 2.1 million end-users, ALTESS remains focused not only on today’s capabilities, but also on tomorrow’s innovations.
- SCOTT FRIEND is Chief of ALTESS’ Enterprise Systems Division. He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Friend is Level III certified in IT III and is a U.S. Army Acquisition Corps member.
- CHARLES SMITH is an ALTESS technical writer/editor. He holds a B.A. and an M.S. in English from Radford University and is Level I certified in program management.