July 1, 2019 —
Information systems have a shelf life of 5-10 years before manufacturers no longer support the old products. Like many other government agencies, the Coast Guard’s email infrastructure is still running Exchange 2010, which has reached its end-of-life in January 2020, and will no longer be supported by Microsoft. Rapid advances in hardware and software make fully recapitalizing IT assets on a 5-10 year life cycle expensive, time consuming, and impractical. Additionally, recent emphasis on cyber security has only multiplied the complexity of these challenges.
For many of the reasons listed above, the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security have recognized changes in the commercial market for basic office services, decided to shift their enterprise to the cloud and mandated their tenants do the same.
Why the cloud?
There are several reasons why investing in a cloud solution, also known as “software as a service” (SaaS), makes sense for federal government and military organizations like the Coast Guard. Moving to the cloud is no longer intimidating as it might have been 10 years ago; many of today’s cloud services have been built, configured and certified to the impact level of the information they protect. A cloud solution has become a more attractive choice because it provides better availability, economies of scale, and streamlines future enhancements to software and hardware. Other benefits include:
- Reduced risk of IT failure (Microsoft 99.999% uptime)
- Properly sync mobile devices with email, contacts, calendar, office, etc.
- Future upgrades occur directly with Microsoft, less risk, less error (e.g. MS Office 2019)
- Email and documents journaled in accordance with Federal Records Act of 2014
- Larger mailbox storage, email (100 GB/user)
- Larger personal folder, My Documents (1 TB/user)
- Increased external internet connection bandwidth (~50 times, FY19) improving internet surfing performance
- Increased network bandwidth (650+ funded site upgrades) improving workstation performance