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Commerce prepares for move to cloud email

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The Commerce Department is preparing to move part of its email and collaboration infrastructure to the cloud, according to solicitation documents posted Friday.

The National Institute for Standards and Technology is leading the cloud email transition for the department and will be the first division to make the move, according to the request for proposals. NIST sets governmentwide technical security policies.

The office of Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank will follow NIST to the cloud under the proposed indefinite delivery-indefinite quantity contract, according to the RFP. More divisions may come after that.

In addition to basic email, Commerce’s cloud contractor must provide instant messaging, calendar functions, desktop video conferencing, web-based collaboration tools and e-discovery tools that can dig up buried information in response to legal requests, the department said.

The department is seeking tools that are “standards-based, browser-agnostic, interoperable, and multi-platform,” according to the solicitation.

Federal agencies, including the General Services Administration and Commerce’s own National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have already moved their email and collaboration systems to the cloud as part of a governmentwide push. Other agencies have announced plans to follow suit in recent months, including the Labor Department, which solicited for cloud email services earlier this month.

The government plans to move about one-fourth of its $80 billion information technology budget to the cloud with projected savings of about $5 billion annually. Cloud storage is typically cheaper than storing computer programs in onsite data centers because clouds can pack information more tightly and customers pay for cloud storage as they would a utility, only paying for what they use.

NIST supports about 5,600 email users at its two campuses in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo., who will be the first to use the new cloud email system. The secretary’s office, which will transition second, has about 1,500 email inboxes, the department said.

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