Army expects to save a bundle with e-mail move

Switch to enterprise system begins this month, could save $100M by 2013

After much groundwork, the Army has announced that it will start migrating individual e-mail accounts to a cloud-based enterprise e-mail service by the middle of this month. The service will transition an initial batch of accounts in the coming weeks with the goal of moving 200,000 classified and 1.4 million unclassified accounts by the end of the year.

The first 2,000 users moving to the new system will also serve as a testbed to ensure a smooth transition. Brig. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, commanding general of the 7th Signal Command (Theater) at Fort Gordon, Ga., told NextGov that this first group will ensure that e-mail service and system management processes are working and in place.

One difference is that this initial selection of users consists of the Army’s top technology personnel, including the chief information officer’s staff, who will have their Microsoft Exchange accounts moved. NextGov noted that the email accounts for the Army’s headquarters staff will switch over in March.

The Army expects the service to save about $100 million a year by 2013. Speaking last year, former Army CIO Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Sorenson said that the cost savings will kick in during the 2012 fiscal year and beyond. He said the Army currently pays more than $100 per user seat annually for e-mail services. Under the enterprise e-mail system, he said the cost will drop to under $39 per seat. The service will provide users with 4G of mailbox storage, up from the 100M currently available.

Key features of the e-mail system will allow users to access their e-mail wherever they are, from any CAC-card equipped computer; e-mail accounts that follow users as they move between duty stations and deployments; and an active directory listing e-mail addresses of Army and DOD personnel. Speaking in December, Brig. Gen. Jennifer Napper, commander of Army NETCOM/9th Signal Command, noted that the directory serves as an enterprise security boundary and an authentication source.

According to the 7th Signal Command, the changes include “persona extensions” to all Army personnel e-mail addresses. These extensions will identify users as active duty military, civilian Army employees, reservists or contractors. After the transition, NextGov reported that all Army individual e-mail addresses will contain a first name, middle initial and last name, followed by numbers for identical names such as: john.j.smith123@mail.mil. A reservist’s account would be john.a.doe335.mil@mail.mil and a contractor’s account would be john.a.doe335.ctr@mail.mil.

The move to an enterprise e-mail model is being managed in conjunction with the Defense Information Systems Agency. E-mail and calendar functions are being virtualized and stored on DISA’s cloud. Agency officials said in October that the enterprise service consolidates the Army’s e-mail addresses within the DISA cloud, which is the first step in a greater effort to condense all military e-mail addresses under a single DOD.mil listing.  

 

  

 

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