DISA remakes e-mail as DOD-wide collaboration super suite

At a glance

ORGANIZATION:

The Defense Information Systems Agency

PROJECT:

Defense Department Enterprise Email

CHALLENGE:

Build and deploy an e-mail system with anytime, anywhere access that provides 4.5 million users improved collaboration and access to the DOD Global Address List.

SOLUTION:

Unique modifications to Microsoft Outlook, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2010, increasing mailbox capacity to 4G and moving e-mail to a DISA cloud.

This article has been updated to correct errors regarding the Army's projected savings and the system's mailbox capacity.

Led by the Defense Information Systems Agency, the Defense Department is rolling out an enterprise e-mail system with the goal of establishing a core of networks, data centers and Internet-like information services for 4.5 million users across the department.

The first phase of the program, called DOD Enterprise Email, includes migrating the Army’s enterprise e-mail users to a private cloud hosted by DISA’s Defense Enterprise Computing Centers. To date, more than 500,000 Army users have moved to the new system, which is being built by teams from DISA and General Dynamics Information Technology.

One of the biggest early hurdles the teams faced was how to deliver a system that could scale to 4.5 million users around the world while maintaining continuity of operations. The answer was to build incrementally so that the network is not relying on one or two primary components that could bring down the whole system if they failed.

“The scale of the project demanded we understood the functional and technical requirements that are unique to DOD components while maintaining a service that could be adopted by the DOD Enterprise,” said Paul Crumbliss, DISA program manager for DOD Enterprise Email.

The system is based on unique modifications to Microsoft Outlook, Windows Server 2008 and Exchange 2010, ensuring anytime, anywhere availability with a Common Access Card. It is also designed to bolster collaboration by giving users the ability to schedule meetings across the entire DOD enterprise. Another big plus is access to DOD’s Global Address List, which contains information for all email users, distribution groups and Exchange resources.

DISA enterprise email team

(Pictured: Abdullahi Sanusi, Abraham Parangot, Anais Kofie, Chris Malafis, Darryl Bryant, David Buckholtz, David Mazzarella, Dustin Pettigrew, Jan Weisel, Jan Wickham, Jason Friedman, Jim Loux, Jim Townsend, Jin Jung, Kate Felts, Kim Marshall, Mark Johnson, Mike Martin, Paul Crumbliss, Randy Norsworthy, Reyes Guerra, Robert McGrath, Sherman Malone, Stephen Spector, Steve Wallace)

The system “facilitates DOD-wide information sharing and provides access to the Global Address List, regardless of users’ organizational affiliation,” Crumbliss said. “This allows e-mail to serve as a collaboration tool that is essential to the day-to-day operations of our mission partners, who require access across the DOD enterprise to achieve their goals and missions.”

In addition to consolidating DOD’s e-mail infrastructure and centralizing e-mail management, DOD Enterprise Email will also save money, officials said. In a report to Congress the Army alone has identified more than $75 million in savings in the first year.

DOD Enterprise Email “is saving valuable budget dollars by eliminating redundant resources,” Crumbliss said, “freeing up the agency to focus on other critical functions within their organization.”

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