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Cloud Computing: Shrinking Budgets and Increased Efficiencies Lead DoD to Transition Unclassified Email to the Cloud

By Dick Weisinger

In an effort to save money and to modernize systems, the Department of Defense (DoD) has embraced the cloud for handling unclassified emails.  In early March, the DoD migrated the one-millionth user onto a new cloud-based email system, DOD Enterprise Email (DEE), and is expected to grow to 1.5 million users within the next sixty days.  The system is used by the Army, the Joint Staff various combatant commands, and other military agencies, although 967,000 of the current users are from the Army.  DEE is hosted by the Defense Information Systems Agency, known as DISA, and DISA is the main service provider of high-end applications to DOD.

John Hale, DISA’s chief of enterprise applications, said that ”It’s been a long road to get to where we’re at today.  This is just the first major milestone we’re going to hit as we move forward with the rest of the enterprise services to continue to gain efficiencies within the department and save the department money overall in this austere budget environment we’re in…  The solution was built … with security in mind, and that’s one reason it leverages our current DOD private cloud as its native platform, … because a certain amount of security comes with that environment.  As information technology increases in complexity and users demand more and more instant capabilities, security is … at the forefront of everything we do to ensure our nation’s defense information is kept safe.”

Many see the move to cloud with DEE as the first step for the DoD to move other enterprise applications to the cloud.  Mike Krieger, the Army’s deputy chief information officer, said that “We have made more improvement on business processes between the Army and DISA than you could imagine… The biggest thing that enterprise email [DEE] has done is establish some discipline in the Army and DISA on ITIL business processes. We didn’t have that… Enterprise email has little to do with email. The discipline and ITIL business processes that we’ve established between the Army and our partner are huge.”

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