Interior wants to take 88,000 e-mail users to the cloud

The Interior Department is looking to take e-mail and collaboration services to the cloud, supporting 88,000 users across all DOI bureaus and office.

The Interior Department is looking to take e-mail and collaboration services to the cloud, supporting 88,000 users across all DOI bureaus and office.

DOI officials have concluded that the use of a cloud-based e-mail service would result in faster implementation of the required services across all bureaus and offices, according to a request for information to identify potential vendors released Oct. 28.

The move to the cloud will also reduce migration costs and engineering risk as well as improve levels of service and offer a predictable cost model on an ongoing basis, DOI officials said. Cloud computing is an on-demand model that gives users access to a shared set of computing resources with minimal management intervention and service provider interaction.


Related coverage:

GSA wins race to the e-mail cloud

5 pitfalls that can scuttle a move to the cloud


Many agencies are migrating e-mail and collaboration services to private or public cloud providers to reduce costs and better equip a more mobile workforce, enabling employees to access information from anywhere and any device.

Most notable among the agencies moving to the cloud is the General Services Administration, which over a six-month period successfully moved 17,000 e-mail users to Google Apps for Government, a secure, cloud-based e-mail and collaboration platform. The Agriculture Department is moving 120,000 users to Microsoft Online Services, consolidating 21 different messaging and collaboration systems into one.

Interior appears to be taking some tips from GSA’s play book, seeking information about how quickly vendors can migrate 88,000 users and 120,000 mailboxes into a consolidated single e-mail platform as required by the project. “How many clients can be migrated per day, week, month? Can you meet a 6 month implementation schedule?” the RFI asks.

Interior officials also want to know what migration phasing methodology potential vendors recommend. “Can DOI migrate all at once or is a bureau-by-bureau phased approach necessary?”

The RFI also specifies a government-only cloud with data centers located within the continental United States, citing issues that are becoming increasingly important for government agencies. Many major cloud service providers have built segregated physical sets of servers for government customers housed within U.S. borders.

DOI has identified the following requirements that must be met by a messaging and collaboration system in order to support its mission within its current environment. The following are minimum required services for the software-as-a service offerings:

  • E-Mail, including calendar, task management, mobile device support and deskless user (webmail) support.
  • Archiving.
  • E-Discovery.
  • Instant messaging.
  • Desktop video conferencing.
  • Collaboration services, including Web-based tools and services to assist users in managing information and collaboration with others, real-time Integration with web-based collaboration systems.
  • Mobile device management.
  • Compliance with security requirements defined by the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) along with enhanced DOI-specific security requirements.
  • Dedicated data storage infrastructure (both physically and logically) to DOI or to DOI and other federal government customers only.
  • Dedicated computing infrastructure (both physically and logically) to DOI or to DOI and other Federal government customers only.
  • Redundant implementation of at least two data centers located within the continental United States.

“It is expected that the vendor shall provide a seamless integration between the current desktop operating systems licensed to DOI, and the vendor’s own 'cloud' based e-mail and collaboration solutions,” according to the RFI. “DOI plans to use Microsoft Outlook as the front end client and does not currently utilize a specific collaboration (video and chat) software package.”

All responses must be received no later than 10 a.m. EST Nov. 14, be in an electronic format, and be e-mailed to the contracting officer Gregory Ruderman at Greg.Ruderman@aqd.nbc.gov; and contract specialist is Brian Baker at Brian.Baker@aqd.nbc.gov.

E-mail and collaboration services are considered low-hanging fruit for government IT managers who are starting down the road toward cloud–based services. But it is not an easy task. Agencies must carefully plan the move and communicate with all levels of management and agency employees. And everyone should understand the intended benefits of the change, government and industry experts advise.

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