Army ahead of schedule on email transition, IT leaders say

Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-6 Lt. Gen. John Morrison mentored high school students attending the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Conference held virtually. (DOD photo)

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The Army’s migration from the Department of Defense’s custom email system to a Microsoft Office 365 platform is ahead of schedule, with more than 50% of the service’s accounts transferred so far, top IT officials said.

“Over 50% of our Army has transitioned from legacy and into the Army 365 environment,” Lt. Gen. John Morrison, the deputy chief of staff and Army G-6, said during a media roundtable Tuesday. “We expect by end of this calendar year we will be approaching 60% and maybe even over that.”

The new Army 365 (A365) system is a part of a broad shift to give soldiers, civilians and contractors cloud-native tools that can be accessed anywhere, along with storage and collaboration tech. The shift falls under the larger adoption of cloud back-office tools through the DOD’s Defense Enterprise Office Solutions (DEOS) contract. The Army’s system, however, has enhanced security measures on top of the normal commercial system

While the Army is currently “ahead of schedule,” Morrison said that the March deadline to get everyone a new email account and off of the legacy Defense Enterprise Email system (DEE) may get pushed back.

“The transition off of DEE has always been condition-based,” he said.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) runs DEE, which supported Army emails before the coronavirus pandemic forced a surge in telework capabilities and the need for better collaboration tools. Morrison said he spoke with the director of DISA to ensure that everyone who needs access to email will continue to get it.

The Army purchased roughly 200,000 fewer licenses for the Microsoft-based platform than there are members of the service as a cost-saving measure. Army CIO Raj Iyer said in a previous interview with FedScoop that not everyone in the Army needs a full suite of email tools and an “alternative” email solution will be acquired to ensure everyone had access to an email account.

“We are well on our way to implementing the alternate solution,” Iyer said, noting that no other details could be released because the Army is still in the process of contracting for a solution.

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Army, Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), email, john Morrison, Microsoft, raj iyer
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