DISA puts millionth user onto DoD enterprise email

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Correction appended.

The Defense Information Systems Agency has migrated the millionth user to its Microsoft enterprise email solution, making the offering "one of the largest independent email systems on the globe," agency officials told reporters in a March 13 presser.

The Army will complete its years-long migration of 1.4 million unclassified email users by April, said John Hale, DISA chief of enterprise applications; it currently has migrated approximately 967,000 users. The next 20 days will see the Army switching users over at a rapid pace since the service's migration plan was to tackle the most difficult, and therefore most time-consuming, accounts first and save the easier accounts for later, he added.

DISA charges $39.64 annually for each account, which comes with 4 gigabytes of storage, said Alfred Rivera, DISA principal director of enterprise services. "We've been very competitive in this marketplace, if not equal or better to industry equivalents," Rivera said. The rate is based on direct and indirect costs with no markup and DISA buys capacity to support the solution on demand, he added. "We don't have any capital expenditure upfront," he said.

Apart from native public key infrastructure support, DISA's solution is no different from Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) commercial offering, Hale said--a fact that could allow DISA to contract out support for running it in the future, he added.  

The Army will avoid costs of $70 million annually by utilizing the DISA service, Rivera said, adding that the number has been "demonstrated to the auditors as well as to the financial community." Previous, higher, Army savings estimates were exaggerated, Army officials acknowledged in an April 2012 report.

Other users of the email solution include the Joint Chiefs of Staff, European and African commands, as well as DISA itself. DISA is in talks with the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Finance and Accounting Service to migrate to the solution, Rivera said.

The Air Force is piloting the email service through its Reserve and Air National Guard units. The Navy Reserve Command has switched to it as well in October.

The Air Force has not yet made a final decision on whether to utilize the DISA offering, but DISA is in "deep discussion" about how and when the service might migrate over, Hale said. DISA officials are also talking with the Navy, which is close to making contract awards for its Next Generation Enterprise Network acquisition. NGEN's scope is far larger than just email, Hale noted, meaning that Navy utilization of DISA enterprise email wouldn't be a substitute for NGEN.

Correction March 13: An earlier version of this story misstated Defense Logistics Agency and Defense Finance and Accounting Service adoption of Defense Enterprise Email. As of now, DISA is talking with the agencies about DEE adoption but the agencies have yet to make a final decision.

For more:
- read a DISA press release about the million user milestone

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