clouds

Army gives some groups a choice of Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps

The Army is taking a two-pronged approach to cloud email and collaboration services, tapping two different cloud providers to deliver Microsoft Office 365 and Google Apps for Government.

The Army Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems (PEO-EIS) purchased licenses for the two cloud-based services, which are available to any DOD agency, service, or partner. Dell Federal Systems will provide services based on Microsoft 365, and DLT Solutions, a value-added reseller, will offer a Google Apps for Government solution for organizations that are unable to participate in Defense Enterprise Email, including portions of the Army Recruiting Command and the Army Corps of Engineers, according to an Army announcement.  

The cloud providers will offer email, collaboration, information sharing and mobile access through the commercial cloud services. The agreements also give users document storage, enterprise content management and unified capabilities. There is also an option for records management and digitally signed and encrypted email.

The agreement “is only intended for those users who are not a part of Defense Enterprise Email. This approach allows for competition, enabling DOD users who currently do not have access to the DEE to have choices. The initial agreement is a commitment to 50,000 users per provider, with the option to buy additional user capability as needed,” an Army spokesperson said.

DOD Enterprise Email is a departmentwide, cloud-based system hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency.

The agreements mark the first critical step toward meeting the DOD Cloud Computing Strategy goal of using commercial cloud services in the department's multiprovider enterprise cloud environment, according to the release.

The 50,000 seats of Microsoft Office 365 include cloud services such as email and calendaring, Office Web Apps, unified capabilities like Microsoft Lync and collaboration tools like SharePoint, Curt Kolcun, Microsoft’s vice president for U.S. Public Sector, wrote in a blog.  

Microsoft offers an enterprise version of Office 365 as well as Office 365 for Government, a multitenant environment that stores U.S. government data in a segregated community cloud. However, Kolcun did not specify which version of Office 365 will be offered to DOD.

“Securely combining commercial and government services demonstrates the Army’s commitment to build on the successful DOD Enterprise Email (DEE) initiative. The single authoritative identity management capability enabled by DEE provides the ability to take advantage of Office 365 and other enterprise services,” Kolcun said.   

Those other enterprise services now can also include Google Apps for Government, Office 365’s primary competitor among federal, state and local government agencies. Google Apps for Government is a suite of unified communications and collaboration tools including workplace applications for email, chat, calendar, documents, spreadsheets, presentations, forms, video sharing and more, according officials with DLT Solutions, a Google partner.  

The cloud services are being provided as part of two Blanket Purchase Agreements that incorporated the existing General Services Administration Email as a Service agreements. The services will be provided under a one-year base period contract with four one-year options. The agreements were developed in coordination with the Army Chief Information Officer and DOD Enterprise Software Initiative, and will maintain identity management as a government function, leveraging the existing Defense Information Systems Agency solution, according to the Army.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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