The U.S. Military Academy at West Point will upgrade its email services to a cloud-based model, which the academy said will help facilitate projects and information sharing anywhere, rather than restricting email service to network-capable devices.
West Point is serving as a pilot program by switching from Department of Defense-controlled network and email to commercially owned and operated service, according to information provided by the academy’s public affairs office. West Point has slowly been transitioning from USMA.edu email addresses to cloud-based WestPoint.edu email addresses through Microsoft’s Office 365.
The program’s origins trace back to the summer of 2015 when email and network issues caused more immediate problems, but the longer-term complications were defined by tight security measures impacting the way West Point conducted its business.
This new program hopes to be a model for the Army overall of what can be accomplished on a cloud-based model as opposed to running email systems on an in-house network. The belief for West Point is that transitioning to a cloud-based model will help cadets, faculty, and staff to accomplish more tasks and projects while keeping cybersecurity front-of-mind. West Point is unique in being able to spearhead this initiative because it does not handle classified information as frequently as other units in its field.
“Security is paramount, but we also think that enabling IT in a way that people can work in the environment that we are used to now, which is work anywhere on any device, we are getting closer and closer to that as time passes,” said West Point CIO Col. Edward Teague.
The changes for the program will take place through fiscal year 2019, be optimized in fiscal year 2020, and begin data collection and analysis zing on the changes in fiscal year 2021. To help facilitate the changes, West Point plans to upgrade its wireless capabilities across campus, especially in the barracks to help cadets collaborate without the restraints of a wired connection.
Along with the email modernization efforts, West Point has overhauled its website as part of a rebranding effort. Deputy Director of Public Affairs Maj. Ireka Sanders said that the website upgrades have taken “considerable” efforts and teamwork from the entire academy.
“It is exciting to finally see ‘Westpoint.edu’ come to fruition. It is also only the beginning. Every day, the site will be refined and improved to become better, stronger and more precise in hitting our communications objectives,” Sanders said.