Air Force is next to move to DoD enterprise email

Thursday - 3/22/2012, 10:25pm EDT

Teri Takai, Chief Information Officer, DoD

Download mp3

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The number of military services preparing to move their email systems to the Defense Information Systems Agency's cloud is growing.

The Air Force has committed to following the Army and using DISA's enterprise email services, and the Department of the Navy is in discussions as well, said Teri Takai, the Defense Department's chief information officer.

"It's our intention that at the completion of Army, Air Force will begin to move to the enterprise email. We are working with the Navy now," Takai said. "It's very important we move across DoD and email is, in many ways, a forcing function. What we need to get to is a single directory and with that a single identity management solution."

And that identity management system would open up a host of new services and cyber protections for DoD.

"This would give us the opportunity to create a directory to implement many of the collaboration tools we have today on an enterprise-wide basis," Takai said. "I could see a situation where if we have to set up operations someplace brand new, rather than building tools from the bottom up and have to bring in hardware and set up new services, we could plug into the enterprise services, and people would have functionality very quickly."

She added the services are using different collaboration tools currently but few in a DoD-wide approach.

Takai said the Army's experience is key to alleviating concerns by the Air Force, the Navy and other DoD agencies.

In addition to the Navy and Air Force, Army CIO Lt. Gen. Susan Lawrence said at a conference earlier this week that the Pentagon's Joint Staff and the National Security Agency have asked to come on board enterprise email. DoD joint combatant commands, including the U.S. European Command and the Africa Command, are part of the current migration. DoD's Southern Command has asked to join in as well.

One piece to the cloud puzzle

The move to enterprise email also is part of a larger effort around cloud computing, which includes data center consolidation. Takai said DoD already has closed 57 data centers in 2011 and scheduled 97 more to close in 2012which is up from its original goal of 67. In all, Takai said the plan is to decrease the number of data centers across DoD to 480 from 772 by 2014.

"What we are finding as we are going into the data centers, we are getting more familiar and comfortable with what each of the data centers are doing," she said. "The services are doing a terrific job at looking not only at floor space but applications and duplications in the applications we are running as well as virtualization. As we are getting into more detail, we are finding opportunities we didn't recognize when we did the first look at the number of data centers."

New cloud strategy

DoD soon will issue a cloud computing strategy and a corresponding set of standards for industry. Takai said the strategy could be out by the end of April.

"It really does address all aspects of what we believe DoD needs to look at in terms of cloud computing," she said. "First of all, we believe cloud computing and the whole concept of services is a very important concept for us going forward, not only from the standpoint that it gives us the opportunity to get capabilities out more quickly, but we will be able to protect that capability in a much better way than we can today where our functionality is distributed all over across 15,000 networks."

Takai said DoD initially will move to private clouds, but over time DoD would like to use commercial cloud capabilities, which is where the new document comes in.

She said FedRAMP, the cloud computing security standards program, will play a key role in this effort for DoD.

All of these efforts point to key changes at DoD.

"We are moving to more standardized, more service-oriented architectures," Takai said. "We will be looking less to building capabilities from what I call the ground floor up or the entire stack. We will be starting with the standard platforms we have and how we build capabilities on that much faster."

RELATED STORIES:
Army tired of waiting for new mobile devices

DoD to save $3B with data center consolidation

Army cloud email a 'pathfinder' to enterprise services

Enterprise email forcing broader changes for the Army