WASHINGTON -- A service-wide migration to Army 365 is currently underway to provide Soldiers and Army civilians a cloud-based capability that will bolster collaboration and connectivity, network leaders said Wednesday.
Similar to the suite of capabilities under Microsoft 365, the new Army program will improve information sharing with added cybersecurity measures in place, said Raj Iyer, the Army's chief information officer.
A three-phased approach will transition all Microsoft Teams, email, and SharePoint systems to Army 365 and eliminate the need for the commercial virtual remote environment, or CVR, and other functions, said Lt. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., Army deputy chief of staff, G-6.
"CVR came in handy during COVID-19 when we all had to go remote and telework for the past 15 months," Iyer said. "Army 365 gives us an enduring capability to collaborate across the Army, along with our sister services, the joint force and industry."
As Soldiers and civilians log into the Army 365 environment for the first time, they will see a suite of programs that will far exceed the CVR experience, Morrison said. The system hosts a range of resources to include video and voice teleconferencing, email, instant messaging, and access to shared drives.
"Cybersecurity was baked into the development of this architecture from the beginning," Morrison said. "As we migrate to Army 365, we're treating it like an operation. It is aligned against an operational [command and control] construct."
Morrison added that the goal is to provide an improved user environment. Army Cyber Command and Army Network Enterprise Technology Command have been vital to the rollout and provide an added layer of protection beyond what the commercial market can offer.
The shift to Army 365 will also aid in the divestiture of legacy capabilities, like SharePoint and CVR, by shifting all personnel to a familiar environment to improve productivity, Morrison said. In turn, Soldiers can stay connected or have access to their files regardless of where they are at in the world.
"We are also able to provide user support integrated into … the Army enterprise service desk," Iyer added. "Users in the U.S. will have one place to go to receive [Army 365] support."
The first phase of the Army 365 migration has started with the service-wide transition of CVR and Microsoft Teams capabilities before the mandatory shutdown of CVR by June 15, Morrison said.
"We are asking all users to take a hard look at how they're using CVR and what Teams meetings they established on an enduring basis. They can start to recreate these meetings in the new environment," Iyer said, adding that Teams channels will not migrate over to Army 365.
The second phase will transition government email capabilities to Army 365 before the closure of the Defense Enterprise Email service by the end of next fiscal year, Morrison said. The Army is looking to complete this process long before the suspense date.
The final phase will move all SharePoint services to Army 365, he added. Due to the large quantity of data and the needs of each unit, this transition process will take the longest. CIO and G-6 leaders expect to finish this process sometime in fiscal year 2022.
"The Guard and Reserve will be treated just like our active component in terms of migrating over to Army 365," Iyer said, adding that they have been working closely with National Guard Bureau leaders to understand their requirements.
"CVR was one of those capabilities that [the Guard] leveraged extensively for command and control in terms of their mission support throughout the states," he said. "We want to make sure that there is no loss in capability and they can operationalize Army 365's capabilities from the get-go."
Program officials will continue to test and validate Army 365 moving forward. As it evolves, they will generate user guides and distribute them throughout the force to ensure a seamless transition, Morrison said.
"Army 365 is going to be such a game-changing integrated capability and it pushes the limit on how we can improve our business and operational processes," he added.
"We are going to look for that feedback. We know that Soldier and civilian ingenuity will use this capability in ways we couldn't even imagine. Capturing those lessons learned will be important."