Readers scorn Army's planned e-mail move

Skeptics say layers of management will impede implementation

A Defense Systems story about the Army’s plan to move its enterprise e-mail operation to a cloud computing environment that will be managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency brought strong responses from readers who have first-hand experience using the service’s existing e-mail services and also from those with experience with other military e-mail systems.

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Army moves e-mail to DISA cloud

The Army’s high-profile initiative to move its e-mail to DISA’s cloud was announced Oct. 25 by Army CIO Jeffrey Sorenson at the 2010 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C. After trying unsuccessfully for several years to provide service-wide e-mail through Army Knowledge Online, the Army decided that partnering with DISA would be the most efficient approach moving forward.

A few readers frustrated with the existing arrangement, and skeptical that the new arrangement will be better, piled on the vitriol.

An anonymous reader said that the inefficiencies experienced by users of AKO and Defense Knowledge Online do not justify the estimated savings.

“To get a single e-mail through DKO expends something like 30 seconds of locked up Internet Explorer….The Army is trying to reduce suicides through training while ignorantly compounding the stress level for DOD workers through stupid consolidations like this one.”

Another reader took direct aim at DISA alleging that the agency has a mixed track record and therefore is not the best option to host Army’s enterprise e-mail.

“I am sorry, but having DISA involved only means more layers of useless self-serving management which will foul the complete system up,” writes Keeg, who points to Defense Connect Online and SharePoint as examples.

Another anonymous reader pointed out that the story left out a number of important details regarding DISA’s implementation and hosting plans, including the total cost of providing the service to the Army, which systems integrator will be in charge of providing the service and what contract vehicle was or will be used for the award.

T. Delahunt implored Defense Department officials involved with the transfer of services to notify the Army National Guard as soon as possible. “Someone share this breaking news with [them] before they blow $45 million deploying their own Exchange 2010 enterprise solution.

A lengthy response from Ron called Defense Systems to task for not mentioning that the Navy and Marine Corps have been using consolidated e-mail for more than a decade as part of the groundbreaking Navy-Marine Corps Intranet project. He notes that NMCI was and still is the largest federal government IT centralization and outsourcing project.

“Lessons learned by the NMCI project have been passed to other government agency efforts, including the departments of the Army and Air Force, to consolidate and outsource IT services.”

After citing statistics that show the scale of the undertaking, Ron said, “Is it perfect? No. Were lessons learned. Yes.”

About the Author

William Welsh is a freelance writer covering IT and defense technology.

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