FAA seeks budgetary nod to switch e-mail systems

The Federal Aviation Administration has laid out technical requirements for an e-mail
system to replace Lotus cc:Mail and is awaiting budget approval from the Transportation
Department.


When FAA officials submitted their fiscal 1999 budget in March, they cut two-thirds
from their migration budget, said Janet MacNab, FAA’s integrated product team leader.


“It was important to put in a reasonable request” to receive approval, she
said. FAA welcomes the move, she added, because the agency expects Lotus to stop
supporting cc:Mail around 2000.


FAA plans to migrate to Lotus Notes Mail, she said, because staying with a Lotus mail
product would remove the need for retraining 40,000 users, she said.


“Notes Mail has the same look and feel as Notes 6.03,” which all FAA users
will have by the end of 1998. About half of them already use it.


MacNab declined to specify the amount of FAA’s request but said DOT approval
should come by the end of the month, after which Congress will review FAA’s budget
request.


Theron A. Gray, FAA chief information officer, wants to replace cc:Mail by 2000 with an
application that has the major features of the cc:Mail 6.0 client and is year 2000-ready,
MacNab said.


When FAA officials set their technical requirements for cc:Mail’s successor in
January, they came up with seven mandatory features and four they called “highly
desired.” The mandatory requirements include 24-hour, 7-day reliability.


“Administration and maintenance of the message store [post office] should not
impact the user’s ability to create, send, read and perform mailbox
maintenance,” an internal FAA document said.


The replacement must permit remote post-office maintenance and administration, be
fault-tolerant, have multiple routing capability, and comply with the Simple Network
Management Protocol and remote monitoring specifications, according to the FAA document.


FAA officials are looking for a scalable product that can connect to a variety of
gateways and other messaging products, as well as work with the Defense Message System,
MacNab said.


The product should be network operating system-independent and support X.400 messaging,
X.500 directory access, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol, Multipurpose Internet Mail
Extensions, Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions and Lightweight Directory Access
Protocol.


About 85 percent of FAA administrative networks run Novell NetWare, roughly 14 percent
run Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 and 1 percent run Unix, MacNab said.


One mandatory requirement is “to redirect messages to alternate client devices
such as pagers, personal digital assistants, smart phones, cellular phones” and other
portables, according to the requirements document.


FAA officials said they want the new mail system to give notice of delivery or
nondelivery. They said they want the post office to be encrypted and digital signatures to
be authenticated and attached to appropriate messages.


Among the highly desirable features FAA officials said they want is the ability to
search and retrieve information in e-mail in response to Freedom of Information Act
requests. Post offices should be backed up in ways that conform with National Archives and
Records Administration requirements.


FAA also asked for an extra: standards-based calendaring to report conflicts, double
scheduling and unavailability across sites.  

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