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DISA’s Enterprise Email Reaches 1 Million Users

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

FORT MEADE, Md., March 19, 2013 – The Defense Information System Agency’s Enterprise Email System passed a milestone recently when it reached 1 million users, said John Hale, DISA’s chief of enterprise applications.

Up and running two years after it was initiated in 2007, Hale said in an interview with The Pentagon Channel the system began as a way “to create a single solution with the Defense Department so we could converge all the disparate email systems being run by individual organizations.”

Hale said DISA sought a “single enterprise solution” to create cost-efficiency in DOD from a consolidation effort and increase collaboration and communications among warfighters.

The system saves millions of dollars for DOD by leveraging the buying power of the entire department, according to a DISA press release. Enterprise services cut costs by consolidating system hardware requirement and maintenance, cutting unnecessary and inefficient administration and resource allocation, the release noted.

“For the warfighters, using [the system] means wherever they are, they can use their email, whenever they need it. It is not necessary to start a new email account when you move or deploy. It is as mobile as the service member,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronnie Hawkins, DISA director.

DISA says the Enterprise Email System is “one of the largest independent email systems in the world.” A Global Address List is included with the system, and it contains all 4.5 million DOD common access card holders, Hale said

Because the list contains millions of names, the system makes it easy to find people, since it is divided by bases, posts, camps, installations and major organizations, Hale said, although users can scroll the entire list.

The changeover to the Enterprise email System is not mandatory for DOD organizations, but for those who do convert, the conversion is “completely invisible to the end-user,” Hale said.

And since the system is not mandatory DOD-wide, Hale said some defense components convert half their email to the system, and keep the rest on the existing system.

“If only half of an organization has migrated, the email addresses in the [global] are all up-to-date in real time, so as people migrate, their email addresses are corrected,” he said.

Among major Defense components that have converted to the system are the Joint Staff, European Command, Africa command, the Army and DISA.

The Enterprise Email System also can store data.  “The Enterprise Email System offers 4 gigabytes of storage to every user on the system,” Hale said. “Unless you’re a mobile user, what we call a basic-class user, and those get 512 megabytes of online storage.”  The vast majority of business users who work at their desks will get 4 gigabytes of storage, he said.

A limit of 20 megabytes per attachment exists with the Enterprise Email System, but such large files can be sent to a “cloud” system, he added.

“We launched a capability called Enterprise File Sharing Service, which is a completely separate enterprise file service, and allows you to put files into a drop-box capability on the web site, and then you can email the link to your users,” he said.

The system’s mobility is an advantage, offering a BlackBerry infrastructure for all of DOD, Hale said.

“We have about 82,000 BlackBerrys on the solution today,” he said. “Organizations administrators who manage their BlackBerrys will still manage them, using our solution. We simply provide an administrative console,” to the administrators.

“We now have over 700 Android, IOS and Windows mobile devices, too. We’re putting [them] through their paces and we anticipate fulfilling those capabilities,” he said.

For organizations that are unsure about making the switch to the Enterprise Email System, the change is more about culture, Hale said.

“Organizations have traditionally done everything themselves, where they’re in control. By making the move to do the Enterprise Email System, they’re giving up a little bit of control by going to an enterprise solution,” he explained.

“We think the Enterprise Email System is the core foundation for what we’re envisioning as key enablers for the Joint Information Environment,” Hale said.

Along with DISA’s other enterprise services, such as the DOD enterprise portal service, and Defense Connect Online, their web-based collaboration is “setting the groundwork in DOD for cloud-based enterprise services,” Hale noted.

DISA is expected to reach 1.5 million email users by summer’s end, Hale said.

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