Sept. 17, 2020 —
By the end of October, all Coast Guard workforce members –active duty, civilians, and reservists – will have a new email account through Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365). While emails will not turn off unexpectedly, there are some important changes to keep in mind as this transition begins.
The full transition to Microsoft 365 (M365) has several steps, as illustrated in the graphic below. Currently, email migration is the focus of the transition.
“Batch migrations are being conducted by districts and users will receive email notifications leading up to their scheduled transition date with additional information,” explained Lt. Edward Costa of the Office of C5I Program Management, the office responsible for executing the transition to M365.
Users will also receive a notification the day after their migration to solicit feedback. For all intents and purposes, the transition of your email should be relatively painless – as long as you keep a look out for your migration notification!
Benefits of M365:
“Although users may not notice any significant changes to the look, feel, or functionality of email, this phase is a critical step in the overall transition to the cloud environment with future benefits becoming more apparent over time,” Costa explained. “The benefits of M365 are many and will include cloud integration with a suite of Microsoft Office productivity tools that will enhance virtual collaboration and communication throughout all organizational levels.” Immediate benefits of this migration to M365 email include:
- Mailbox Size Increase. Mailbox sizes will increase to 100 GBs, significantly improving email storage capacity and accessibility.
- No More Pesky “.pst” Files. Soon after email migration, “.pst” files will move to the cloud, providing access to archived email in webmail and on mobility devices for authorized users.
- Relocation Ease. Migrated users will no longer be required to have their profiles transferred when relocating to a new unit.
Special Concerns for Parts of the Workforce:
Ultimately, M365 emails will be located within a more stable, secure, and reliable environment. However, there are some important changes that will affect some of the workforce more than others:
- Cutters Will Not Be Migrated. If you are on a cutter, this change does not affect you—yet. Users assigned to cutters will not be transitioned to M365. Since email servers and mailboxes will continue to be hosted onboard the cutter, the transition to M365 at this time is not possible for these individuals.
- Reservists Must Gain Access to VDI or VPN. Revisits who rely solely on Outlook Web Access (OWA), you should act now to gain access to Virtual Desktop Interface (VDI) or Virtual Private Network (VPN) if you do not already have it. To gain access to VDI or VPN, please refer to this Reservist bulletin. Specific information is also being communicated via email notifications throughout the Reserve workforce. Additional information is available through the 2020 Reserve Information/Action Bulletins.
- Outlook Web Access Will No Longer Be Available. Following the user’s migration, OWA will no longer be available from personal or government devices that are not connected to the Coast Guard’s network. Users who rely on OWA should plan to use an alternate means to access email externally, such as VPN or VDI. In order to use VPN, you must use a USCG government furnished laptop. For all other users who do not use their USCG laptop primarily, VDI is a good alternative to OWA.
Change can be tough, no matter how smooth the transition is. If you are someone looking to gain more training or additional information on M365, there are several online trainings available that will guide you through utilizing these new platforms efficiently. They can be found on the bottom left hand corner of the Cloud Office Solutions Program page under the “Help Me Know” training hub. At this time, in order to access a training, you must have CAC access.
Additional M365 status reports will be provided as the Coast Guard continues its transition beyond email migration. The full transition to M365 will facilitate communication, collaboration, and productivity across the Coast Guard. This transition will provide members with the latest version of all Microsoft Office productivity tools, including Microsoft Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access, Excel, and Teams.
This flow chart, posted on the Cloud Office Solutions Office 365 Project page, offers a brief overview of the transition plan to upgrade Coast Guard to Microsoft 365. For questions regarding this process, please see the points of contact above.