The Army will begin migrating to an enterprise e-mail service in the middle of February with 1.4 million unclassified and 200,000 classified accounts moved by the end of the year, according to a report by the Army News Service.
Top information technology officials in the Army, including the chief information officer staff, will have their Microsoft Exchange accounts moved first, essentially making them guinea pigs, said Herman Wells, who is managing the transition and is enterprise services director of the 7th Signal Command (Theater) at Fort Gordon, Ga. "This is different from the way some information technology upgrades have been done in the past. The high-ranking officers and civilians were last. Everyone else had to put up with inconveniences while software problems were worked out. Not so this time." The e-mail accounts of Army headquarters staff will switch in March.
The Army initially plans to migrate 2,000 users to the new system. This will allow the service to refine the process and ensure a smooth transition, said Brig. Gen. LaWarren Patterson, commanding general of the 7th Signal Command (Theater). It will help validate migration techniques, e-mail functionality and system management procedures, he said.
The service expects to save $100 million a year as a result of the switch to an enterprise e-mail system, and aims to give end users more capability, including an increase in mailbox storage from 100 megabytes to 4 gigabytes on the new system, said Neil Guillebeau, a spokesman for 7th Signal Command (Theater). One gigabyte of storage equals the amount of paper that can be stored in two, four-drawer file cabinets, or roughly 20,000 pages.
In addition, the new enterprise e-mail system will provide:
-- Access to e-mail anywhere, at any time, from any authorized, Command Access Card equipped computer
--Active e-mail accounts during duty station moves and unit relocations
--Sharing of individual, organizational and resource calendars across the enterprise
--A universal directory that can locate e-mail addresses and the contact information of Army personnel and other Defense Department employees.
Migration will occur during off-duty hours in an automated process that will copy current e-mail and calendar data from each user's local e-mail account into their enterprise e-mail account, according to an FAQ from 7th Signal (Theater), available to users with an Army Knowledge Online account.
All Army personnel will have to change their e-mail addresses, to include a new "persona extension" that will help identify whether users are active-duty military, Army civilians, reservists or contractors. The FAQ said, "This extension is critical for users with multiple personas (such as a military reservist who is also a contractor) in order to distinguish between their accounts."
When the transition is complete, everyone in the Army will have an e-mail that contains a first name, middle initial and last name, followed by numbers for similar names, for example, email@example.com. Using this example for military reservists and contractors, the accounts would be firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com, respectively.
Wells said end users can help smooth migration by cleaning up their mailboxes as much as possible. "Delete messages and calendar items that are no longer necessary to keep. The smaller the mailbox, the smoother the migration," he noted.