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New e-mail service will create efficiencies, capabilities

May 4, 2011

By Erin O. Stattel, Army News Service

ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, May 4, 2011) -- E-mail users on Army networks can expect big changes heading their way soon, if Enterprise Email has not taken root on their systems already.

More than 14,000 Army users have already completed migration to the new e-mail provided by the Defense Information Systems Agency. By the end of the year, all Army users, in addition to DOD personnel assigned to Army-hosted combatant commands, will migrate to the new Enterprise Email system.

The first migration phase included members at the Army CIO/G-6; NETCOM/9th Sig Command; 7th Signal Command; the Research, Development and Engineering Command; 93rd Signal Brigade; Fort Riley, Kan.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; Rock Island, Ill.; and Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

As the Army partners alongside DISA, the first major, multi-installation migrations are expected to start in June. This will include 10,000 users at Army headquarters in the Pentagon.

The new system will enable users to have military e-mail access worldwide, and allow users to keep their accounts even after transferring to different agencies within the department.

"Right now the global address list is small for individual users and for the Army there is no visibility on other services' addresses. Upon migration to Enterprise, 3.9 million addresses will appear in the GAC immediately," said Mike Krieger, Army deputy chief information officer for the G-6. "This will also allow us to share calendars with outside entities and this migration will allow us to have unlimited storage."

Compared to the projected cost savings, any headaches associated with the migration are negotiable, officials said May 3.

Krieger, who was joined by Air Force Maj. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, vice director of the Defense Information Systems Agency during the roundtable, indicated that the migration will help the department realize a considerable cost savings long-term.

"The bill to the Army will go down every year," Krieger said of the $52 million spent on the project this year. "We brought this in on budget and we are delivering it on budget."

Officials believe the effort will produce efficiencies beginning in fiscal year 2012 and generate annual savings exceeding $100 million in years to come.

Krieger and Hawkins estimated the cost per user per year to be $52 on the high end and lower as more users with less security needs enter the system.

One of the biggest benefits to users will be the availability of their e-mail at any Army facility, provided they have their CAC card on hand.

"At whatever post you are at, you can just put your CAC in the reader and get your e-mail," Hawkins said.

A challenge associated with migrating hundreds of thousands of e-mail users to the new service is creating the right patch in order for the migration tool to properly perform the data transfers. According to Krieger, Microsoft has created patches to bring the migration tool up to speed.

"We have made a lot of refinements to the migration tools and Microsoft has been very responsive, so right now the migration tool is working at about 95 percent," Krieger said. "But the real problem we have is when users do not identify themselves as dual personas."

Krieger explained that civilians or contractors who may also wear a uniform as a Reservist or Guardsman will be forced to use the correct e-mail address for whichever role they are fulfilling at the moment.

"You must have a unique username throughout DoD and dual-persona people will be required to properly identify themselves within the system," Krieger said of the new e-mail system.

How can you prepare for your organization's migration to Enterprise? Start off by cleaning out some of that saved e-mail. Technical experts advise Exchange users to shrink their mailboxes down to 50 megabytes.

By the end of December 2011, all of the Army will migrate, along with Transportation Command, European Command and Africa Command. Enterprise Email is leveraging Army-owned Microsoft software licenses and the DOD cloud provided by DISA. The migration covers 1.4 million unclassified network users and 200,000 secret network users.

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