Fort Rucker email enters the cloud
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FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 27, 2011) -- Big changes are coming to Fort Rucker's email system.

Next week, Fort Rucker email users will begin transitioning to Army Enterprise Email, a centralized, cloud-based service managed by the Defense Information Systems Agency. Once migrated, users will notice some significantly improved capabilities, including an online mailbox with a minimum size of four gigabytes -- 40 times the current size limit of 100 megabytes, according to Tom Barrett, director, Fort Rucker Network Enterprise Center.

"The Department of the Army decided to migrate all email accounts to the enterprise email system so that everyone in the Army can be on one email system to better communicate with each other, both generating and operating forces," said Barrett.

Some other benefits of the new email system include the ability to access email from anywhere and at any time when using an authorized device, the ability to share calendars across the entire Army and, ultimately, a global address book containing email addresses from across the armed services.

"Yes, a true global address book," said Barrett. "Besides the Army, the Navy and the Air Force are migrating to enterprise email as well."

"This [move] is DOD-wide, not just Army. But the Army is taking the lead," said CW2 Keith Vinson, Network Enterprise Support Team, 93rd Signal Brigade.

To prepare for migration to the new system, Fort Rucker email users should follow guidance provided by Network Enterprise Center, according to David Bachelder, IT operations manager, Fort Rucker Network Enterprise Center.

"Instructional videos have been posted to the Fort Rucker Intranet for quite some time now and they will guide you through the steps of reducing your email box size and backing up your personal folders," said Bachelder.

"The biggest things users can to do prepare are to watch the videos and decrease your inbox to below 50 megabytes," said Barrett. "The enterprise email migration tool runs best when users are at 50 MB and below, so that's why we stress getting below that 50 MB mark. We're migrating 1,000 users a night to the DISA cloud, and you won't get migrated unless you're below 50 MB."

The Fort Rucker Network Enterprise Center successfully moved their email accounts to the new system earlier this year and experienced very few problems, according Bachelder.

Once migrated to the new system, users will notice some changes to their email.

"You'll have a new email address," said Barrett.

And although users' email addresses will change, they will continue to receive email addressed to their old address for a period of time. It is recommended, though, that users advise friends and coworkers to use their new email addresses once they have been migrated.

"One thing that users will notice is a secondary common access card login. You login with your CAC to your computer and when you open up your email, it's going to ask for your CAC again," said Barrett.

The Army's transition to the enterprise email system began earlier this year. Since then, other installations have migrated successfully, but overall, less than 50 percent Armywide have converted to enterprise email, according to Barrett.

During the summer, the migration effort paused for a period of about three months in order to evaluate progress but has since restarted with successful results, said Vinson.

"Fort Lee (Va.) was the showcase installation as far as us coming out of the enterprise email pause. With the success at Fort Lee, the commanding general decided to move forward with enterprise email. So, Fort Lee was a success. Fort Benning (Ga.) was a success. We're moving down the right path and, from my point of view, the Army is ready for enterprise email," said Vinson.

"As of Oct. 20, we have successfully migrated over 153,000 to enterprise email," said Lt. Col. Anthony Funchess, Network Enterprise Support Team Leader, 93rd Signal Brigade. "At Fort Lee, there was a 97 percent success rate. At Fort Benning, there was a 96 percent success rate and they have migrated over 10,000," said Funchess.

As with any major upgrade to information technology systems, some technical issues are expected during the process. Should users experience trouble, they are urged to contact their information management officer who will be prepared to deal with any issues that arise.

"It's something new, and a lot of people don't like change. Migration to enterprise email will be a smooth process, but users need to be patient," says Vinson. "Something might look a little different to the user, but enterprise email is definitely a good thing."

Fort Rucker email users will be migrated to the Army enterprise email system between Wednesday and Nov. 9. Users can contact their IMO to learn what specific dates their organization will be migrating.