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6/2/2011
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Department Of Labor Considers Cloud Email

Microsoft Exchange-based system may be retired for Web-based email and collaboration.

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The Department of Labor (DOL) is the latest government office to explore the use of cloud computing to consolidate in-house email systems.

The department has put out a request for information (RFI) on FedBizOpps.gov to consider the feasibility of moving its current email infrastructure, which includes eight instances of Microsoft Exchange 2003 and one instance of Exchange 2007, to the cloud.

The DOL is not seeking proposals at this time, but merely is doing market research "regarding the availability and capability of all qualified sources" to provide a cloud-based email that's compliant with National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards for a cloud computing architecture. The system also must meet the requirements of the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), according to the RFI.

The request would suggest that the department is looking to host email in a public cloud rather than a private one. So far federal agencies have chosen both options, although recent research has shown federal IT employees prefer private or hybrid clouds over public ones hosted by companies such as Microsoft and Google.

In addition to typical email capabilities, the DOL also is seeking other collaboration and related services, including e-discovery, archiving, and instant messaging, according to the RFI.

Several government agencies already have moved or are in the process of moving on-premises email to the cloud, and more are expected to follow since U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra introduced a cloud-first policy in December. The policy--a key part of Kundra's 25-point IT reform plan, also unveiled in December--requires agencies to consider a cloud-computing solution first when planning new IT projects to achieve cost savings and other benefits.

The General Services Administration was the first agency to embrace cloud-based email by migrating to Google's email and collaboration service from an in-house Lotus Notes-based system last December. That move has been followed by similar plans by the Army, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Department of the Interior, and other agencies to consolidate email systems on either a public or private cloud.

Security concerns give many companies pause as they consider migrating portions of their IT operations to cloud-based services. But you can stay safe in the cloud, as this Tech Center report explains. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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