Army researches messaging and disaster recovery apps for AKO

Army researches messaging and disaster recovery apps for AKO

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.'The Army Knowledge Online portal is integrating new applications for users, said speakers at this week's Army Small Computer Program's IT Conference.

Among the new features are purchasing, messaging and collaboration applications, and disaster recovery capabilities.

The portal will provide users access to the ASCP MarketPlace Direct e-commerce program. MarketPlace Direct lets Defense Department and civilian agencies buy IT products and services from established schedule contracts.

Marian Keitelman, product leader of MarketPlace Direct, said the site will use Secure Sockets Layer and could employ the Army's reverse proxy program, an added security measure that protects against hacker attacks.

Users who are logged onto AKO can access the e-commerce site directly, without having to log on again, Keitelman said.

Some accounts on AKO will run the newest version of Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, others will continue to use Sun One Messaging Server, which AKO now uses.

Exchange offers features that the Sun messaging system cannot match, said Col. Timothy Fong, chief technology officer for the Army Knowledge Office. Exchange Server 2003 messages have a richer text and more security features than Sun One, he said. Individual commands will decide which messaging system to use because not all users need the extra features.

Fong also said the Army will run two pilots later this month. One will test IBM Lotus Sametime software to enhance user planning and collaboration. Its features include virtual meetings, whiteboarding, and voice and video over IP.

The Army also will test AKO's disaster recovery capabilities. Fong said the first data recovery operation will start later this month, although he declined to reveal where the Army would host the backup capability.

'The objective is to have two identical sites so you don't know where your traffic is going,' he said.

The Army now has 1.4 million accounts on AKO. In addition to hosting Army business applications, the portal lets soldiers view pay statements, apply for changes in personnel status, find news, and chat with other users via instant messaging.

The Army uses an instant messaging app from Bantu Inc. of Washington, as do the Navy and Air Force. Fong said the Army is researching an initiative to extend its IM capabilities to the Navy and Air Force so soldiers can chat with other service members.

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