The US Army has decommissioned a legacy email system with four million+ addresses, swapping to the world’s largest Microsoft 365 implementation “Army365”; all part of an ongoing Army digital transformation effort that has also included migrating off legacy ERP systems, including one handling seven million transactions daily.
US Army CIO Dr Raj Iyer hailed the shift, saying the outgoing legacy Defense Enterprise Email (DEE) “served the Army, Joint Staff and COCOMs well for over 10+ years, and it enabled us to migrate hundreds of Exchange servers to one single system back then [auditors said it had saved $78 million per year] but… we are now on a new journey.”
Army365 migration: Goodbye, temporary CVR
The successful migration formalises the Army’s status as the world’s largest user of Teams – included as part of the Army365 deal with Microsoft – replacing a “commercial virtual remote (CVR)” environment also involving Teams that was spun up rapidly for DoD staff during early 2020 when the pandemic forced remote work.
Dr Iyer added: “We are also implementing soft phones and divesting over 75% of desktop hardwired phones and legacy infrastructure for most users… On the roadmap is for whiteboarding capability integrated with Teams and conference room integration for Teams (if we can only get Microsoft to prioritize this in IL5).”
One critic noted however that DoD’s new cloud-based telephony system (DIPS) did not support 911 calls from Teams, with Jon Marcy, CEO of Netmaker Communications, saying: “Until we figure out how to support NG9-1-1 within IL5 Teams DIPS, moving 75% of unclassified voice users to a soft client is going to put the Army into a position of non-compliance with the Ray Baum Act” (legislation that requires that first responders have the necessary information needed to pinpoint the “dispatchable location” of an emergency services call.)
Other recent digital transformation successes in the Army have included taking its Logistics Modernization Program “LMP” system from on-premises servers to a hyperscaler environment in a 24-hour operation.
The LMP, which is used by over 23,000 people across 50 global locations, is an SAP ERP system that underpins the Army’s sprawling supply chain, hosting data on equipment readiness, asset management, arms depots, and more. The system manages seven million transactions daily and is integrated with more than 80 DOD systems.
An earlier 2019 Army report had pointed to familiar challenges around legacy ERP systems that the migration (one of four major SAP migrations by the Army) was designed to tackle, noting that “costs have ballooned.. years of customizing core functionalities and of decentralized hardware and software strategies have made ERP integration efforts costly… support contracts should shift away from buying capacity to buying outcomes.”
The move comes as the Department of Defense (DoD) this week revealed the winners of a replacement to the contentious and ultimately cancelled “JEDI” cloud contract, which was awarded to Microsoft in 2020, triggering legal clashes and a bitter war of words with AWS (which slated Microsoft for “inferior technology”.)
Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle have all won access to the JEDI replacement, the Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability (JWCC) contract; a procurement framework running to 2028 and worth up to $9 billion that will let DoD procure “commercial cloud capabilities and services directly from the commercial Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) at the speed of mission, at all classification levels, from headquarters to the tactical edge”.