Is a single e-mail system enough? EPA will decide

Within weeks, Environmental Protection Agency officials will decide whether to mandate
that its regional offices migrate to a standard e-mail system.


A June 1997 survey found that more than 70 percent of EPA users run some version of
Novell Inc.’s GroupWise.


But the remaining 30 percent are running Lotus cc:Mail, Lotus Notes Mail or other
messaging products, said Francine Yoder, chief architect in EPA’s Information
Resources Management Office.


An EPA steering committee has recommended that the agency keep GroupWise and Notes Mail
in the near term but ultimately move to a single e-mail package, said John R. Adams, team
leader for information technology capital planning in EPA’s IRM Planning Division.


EPA has an X.400 mail gateway that makes it difficult to share messages across
different messaging systems, said George Hesselbacher, an EPA computer systems analyst.


The gateway uses code written in 1992 and 1993 and cannot work with Lotus Notes
versions later than 3.0, he said. EPA has found that most vendors cannot support the
gateway’s old code, Hesselbacher said.


EPA officials also favor using a Simple Mail Transfer Protocol messaging system
agencywide, he said.


Alvin Pesachowitz, EPA’s chief information officer, will likely make a decision by
early next month on what e-mail approach the agency will take, Adams said.


Even if only a third of the agency’s users must change systems, it will have a
major impact because "e-mail ends up being the most used application,"
Hesselbacher said.


To make the decision, EPA is weighing productivity and cost factors, Adams said.


EPA’s Atlanta region uses cc:Mail, the San Francisco office uses Notes, and the
eight other regions use GroupWise, he said. According to the 1997 survey, about 17,000 EPA
users have GroupWise and 5,000 use cc:Mail or other products.


The decision might put some regional systems projects on hold. For instance, Region 10
in Seattle uses GroupWise, but officials were planning to upgrade to Lotus Mail next year
after completing a Microsoft Windows 95 upgrade, said Jim Adamski, a programmer and
analyst for the region.


"We like Notes for our long-term development plans," Adamski said. One of the
region’s four Notes software developers is testing Lotus Organizer and Notes
connections for calendar management, to make the migration to Notes Mail easier, he said.


Roughly 23,000 EPA PCs run Lotus Notes, Adams said. With Lotus Development Corp.
folding cc:Mail into its Domino technology, company officials have recommended that users
upgrade to Domino Mail Server and Notes Mail.


EPA was an early federal user of Lotus Notes. Hesselbacher said he helped with the
initial EPA installation of Notes 1.0 on an IBM Warp Server in 1989.


The agency has since developed Notes applications for correspondence, Freedom of
Information Act requests, grants and forms, Hesselbacher said.

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