Oct 01 2015

DOD Seeking Advice in Creating Cloud-Based Email System

The Pentagon is interested in adopting an upgraded cloud-based email system.

Accepting new technology is often driven by necessity. For example, if you buy the latest iPhone, you have to adapt to the functions and upgrades to use it. Recognizing the long-term benefits of the cloud, the Department of Defense is considering a next-generation unclassified email system that would reside exclusively on the cloud.

As the DOD’s IT division, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) wants to retire the DOD Enterprise Email system in favor of a modern, cost-effective alternative. In place since 2012, Enterprise Email services 1.6 million users, and the Pentagon is interested in a new system that could handle nearly three times that. DISA posted a request for information on cloud-based email systems that balance the cloud’s performance and cost advantages with security concerns regarding how it might expose DOD systems and information.

The DOD may consider two options, Nextgov reports:

The first is an on-premise deployment approach in which a commercial vendor would offer cloud-based email services from within DOD facilities. In this scenario, DOD emails are stored within DOD facilities and vendors would have to define requirements for hosting data within those facilities.

In the second – and likely, more cost-effective – scenario, the commercial vendor would offer cloud-based email and calendaring services from within its own facilities, with a secure connection between DOD networks and the cloud sharing data back and forth. In this scenario, DOD does not have to pay for hardware or managing data centers, which are typically large expenses.

FedScoop reports that this decision comes as federal agencies have been challenged to upgrade their IT systems (with specific regard to cybersecurity) in the wake of the Office of Personnel Management hack, which was recently revealed to be worse than first thought.

The DOD has received criticism for using data management systems that are susceptible to cyberattack, a problem that could be resolved in part by moving its email system to the cloud. Any new email system should meet the staunch cybersecurity guidelines for cloud computing developed by DISA.

The DOD request for information will close at 5 p.m. EST Oct. 15.


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