That's the ticket: COMM techs solve server troubles

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Rows and rows of computer servers lie hidden away in a windowless building here -- black monoliths of information. Every day this information is moved in, out and around, meaning someone has to make sure it moves smoothly. 

It's a big responsibility being the Poseidon of this sea of 0s and 1s, but the technicians of the 51st Communications Squadron computer systems operations are up to the task. 

While some mistakenly think that task includes fixing their CD burner or setting up a LAN drop, according to Staff Sgt. Terrell Taylor what they do is actually much bigger: take care of the servers for almost the entire base. 

Computer systems operations technicians do daily systems checks on all the servers, check and change out back-up tapes that hold hundreds of gigabytes of information, and handle trouble tickets for server issues. 

Handling trouble tickets takes up a lot of the day for the 10 technicians, and Airman 1st Class Bobby Brown says there's one way the base can help. 

"If you give us as much information as you can, give us the exact problem, then we can work it from there," said Airman Brown. "Without all the information, we can't fix it."
Even with all the information, some problems can't be fixed right away, said Sergeant Taylor. 

"Some people may not understand the priority of the tickets," he said. "We may have your ticket for a week, but if a bigger priority ticket comes in, the job will have to wait." 

The priority of the ticket is based on many things, said the sergeant. For example, if the ticket is for a key user or a server that affects multiple users, then it goes to the top of the list. 

However, people shouldn't take that as meaning their problem is not important. 

"We'll try our best to help you quickly," said Airman Brown. "It's just that sometimes problems take time to fix." 

Since computer systems operations technicians work primarily on server problems, they are usually able to fix issues from their office. However, if the issue doesn't allow remote work, they are more than happy to get out and find the source of the problem, said Sergeant Taylor. 

It's not always server problems, though, and that's when Airman Brown calls on his teammates. The computer systems operations technicians share an office with configuration management, application services, messaging services and information protection. Each office is trained to take care of specific problems, from Outlook Web access to network filtering. 

It takes teamwork to keep the base's computer systems running, and 51st CS would like everyone to be a part of the effort. 

"(Users) can help by deleting all unneeded files from the servers," said Sergeant Taylor. "Also, keep copies of your important documents, both on your computer and on CDs." 

And remember, it's easy to forget about the computer systems operations office when the computers are working just fine, he said. 

"We work hard to keep the network running smoothly," said Sergeant Taylor. "It doesn't happen automatically."