The organization that manages and maintains information and communication at Fort Hood was once part of the Garrison Command, called the Directorate of Information Management. Those days are over. As part of an Army-wide effort to consolidate information management and communication, DOIM became the Network Enterprise Center and now falls under the Army Cyber Command, based out of Fort Belvoir, Va.
“We’re not your daddy’s DOIM,” Douglas Babb, director, Fort Hood Network Enterprise Center, said. Babb said as part of the reorganization, the 7th Signal Command was established as part of U.S. Army Network Command, based at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Cyber Command oversees it all.
“We’re operationalizing the network to a point it hasn’t been before,” Babb said, “to a point where it’s under a three-star warfighting commander. The biggest change is where we get our funding stream from, where we get our resourcing from. That’s really the biggest change.
“Is it impacting the customers? Not really,” Babb said. “We’re still providing the core services.”
Work is underway now to upgrade Fort Hood’s telephone system.
“We’ve added a new component to our switching capability. We’re upgrading over half of the remote switching centers that cover geographic areas of Fort Hood,” Babb said. “Once completed, the switch will give us an enhanced capability in numbers and advances in the future like voice-over IP (Internet protocol), for instance.”
He said the installation is in the process of migrating from a copper wire legacy system to a fiber optic, IP-based telephone and data system.
“Initially, nothing will affect folks already having service right now,” Babb said. “Some of the initial changes will be seen in new construction. The capabilities will be wired in as the buildings are built.”
For the rest of the installation, Babb said upgrades will be made to existing facilities “over the course of the next year,” noting the process may take several years.
“The Army and DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency) is looking at it as a ‘Coming to an installation near you,’ sort of thing,” he said, “but as part of their near-term planning.”
Even as an antiquated telephone system is updated, Fort Hood will be moving forward, with the rest of the Department of the Army, to upgrade its email service, as well.
About 20,000 Army users have already completed migration to the new email provided by DISA. By the end of the year, all Army users, in addition to Department of Defense personnel assigned to Army-hosted combatant commands, will migrate to the new Enterprise Email system. Babb said Fort Hood is projected to begin its migration in late summer, though his organization will make the change this month.
“We’ll practice on ourselves,” he said.
The new system will enable users to have military email access worldwide, and allow users to keep their accounts even after transferring to different agencies within the department.
“Right now, the global address list is small for individual users, and for the Army there is no visibility on other services’ addresses. Upon migration to Enterprise, 3.9 million addresses will appear in the (global address book) immediately,” said Mike Krieger, Army deputy chief information officer for the G-6 during a media roundtable event in Washington earlier this month. “This will also allow us to share calendars with outside entities, and this migration will allow us to have unlimited storage.”
Instead of an “@us.army.mil,” all email accounts will be labeled “@mail.mil” in the Enterprise Email system, which will offer a much greater capacity for individual users.
“At the end of the day, the plan is to provide every email user a much larger capacity than what we can currently provide with the technology we have,” Babb said. “We’re going from anything from a 500-megabyte mailbox to 4-gigabytes, which will be a substantial increase for all of our end-users.”
Other Army installations are currently migrating to the new email system. Babb said, in this case, not being first in line is a benefit.
“As other installations go through this process, we’ll be able to take their lessons learned and roll them into our effort here at Fort Hood,” he said.
Babb said Fort Hood will require a sizable pipeline to the storage cache to facilitate all of its email accounts.
“We have to migrate from installation email to DISA, going from ‘inside the wire’ to ‘outside the wire (storage for all accounts will be cached at a separate location),” Babb said. “We’ve got 28,000 email accounts on Fort Hood alone. And that many email accounts heading off post can provide some significant challenges, if we don’t have a robust architecture to support it.”
A challenge associated with migrating hundreds of thousands of email users to the new service is creating the right patch in order for the migration tool to properly perform the data transfers. According to Krieger, Microsoft has created patches to bring the migration tool up to speed.
How can you prepare for your organization’s migration to Enterprise Email? Start off by cleaning out some of that saved email. Technical experts advise exchange users to shrink their mailboxes down to 50 megabytes before the migration. Army-wide, the migration covers 1.4 million unclassified network users and 200,000 secret network users.
(Editor’s note: Erin O. Stattel, Army News Service, contributed to this story.)