For many federal agencies, migrating email systems to the cloud has been the first step in a journey that IT leaders hope will bring them to greater efficiency and cost savings. At the Energy Department, that journey now involves controlling the sprawl of cloud email.
The agency is moving to consolidate its enterprise email systems, thanks to $15 million in funding it received from the Technology Modernization Fund Board.
Currently, DOE operates 64 separate email systems (of which 45 are on-premises), servicing approximately 184,387 mailboxes across the agency. In fiscal year 2018, DOE planned a limited move of 19 on-premises systems to cloud-based email systems. The TMF-funded project will accelerate the implementation of the agency’s enterprisewide cloud email system.
That will allow it to reap large-scale operational benefits and cost savings via the consolidation, upgrade and migration effort for the 26 remaining on-premises systems.
“Historically over the years, quite frankly, email just grew up organically over time at the department,” Energy Department CIO Max Everett told Federal News Network. “One of the results of that is we have a large number of email systems running around across the department. While headquarters and other areas have already moved onto cloud email, we had a number of different sites, for a lot of different reasons, some of them just geography, staffing, budget and other things, that had not made the move to cloud email.”
Everett said that consolidating those systems will help with collaboration, especially for an agency that has a wide variety of missions spread across the country.
DOE Sees Numerous Benefits in Cloud Email Migration
The department received its first installment of the TMF loan, $4 million, in late 2018. Everett told Federal News Network that the additional funds will help about one-third to one-half of the department migrate to cloud-based email systems. Additionally, he noted, even without the extra funding, from July to December, DOE moved about 6,000 email accounts to the cloud.
According to the TMF, without this funding, DOE would need to conduct the migration of the remaining systems in a piecemeal fashion, subject to funding availability. The new project will be funded as a single effort and can be completed in three years, according to the TMF board and DOE.
By the end of the project, the department will have migrated all on-premises email systems to Software as a Service cloud email.
“DOE anticipates it will have a greater ability to serve its mission more quickly across sites and capabilities, which will positively impact the American people,” the board states. “The operational benefits of this project include cost savings, increased efficiency, improved cyber posture and decreased operational risk.”
The migration will happen in two phases. Some users will be move from an on-premises email system to one in their own cloud, and over time DOE will further consolidate email systems in a federated cloud, according to Federal News Network.
The TMF funding will also allow the agency to change how it approaches managing technology, Everett said.
“We are trying to understand what is our cost per service, for email, for a desktop and for all these different services that we do. That is really how we should be managing our IT,” he told Federal News Network.
“Cloud email is a really great one. As someone who in his previous life actually administered Exchange, I knew all the different costs you have for having servers, backups, third party tools, licensing and on and on," he said. "So, when you move to cloud email, it really collapses a lot of those costs into some really basic understandable numbers of this is how much an email box costs. It’s a starter version of how you can get some of those costs shrunk down very quickly.”