Thursday, August 20, 2009

Army Email Getting More Portable?

I came across this article in Federal Computer Week about how the Army has put out a Request for Information(RFI) to unify its email systems. Right now the Army manages them at various command and installation levels. The RFI would be for an enterprise system to manage all email, calendar and other functions for all those using Army email. One benefit supposedly of this would be to reduce the cost to the Army.

One of the problems that the Army current system has is its security level. To access non-classified email you have to log into a computer with a Common Access Card (CAC) Card and pin. The card stays in the computer in order to utilize it. This means that to get your email away from your work site you use your CAC in a laptop or use a Blackberry.

Personally I think a Blackberry presents a whole host of security issues and in fact this whole idea highlights the major problem with the Army's IT set up: security. It has limited functionality and ads considerable cost. An employee if their manager desires email from home or off site requires a laptop or blackberry as well as whatever system they use at work. This increases the cost to the government to outfit each employee.

The proposed system is required to use a CAC so it will require dedicated machines to support. It would be hard to see how much cost savings could be made by this idea unless it maximizes the use of existing equipment and that owned by the employee.

More to come on this as it fleshes out but security will make this hard to implement.

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