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My Coast Guard
Commentary | March 17, 2021

CIO Note: We're starting the next phase of the M365 transition

By Rear Adm. David M. Dermanelian, Assistant Commandant for C4IT

A note from the Coast Guard’s Chief Information Officer, Rear Adm. David M. Dermanelian, Assistant Commandant for C4IT.

With over 99% of all eligible users now migrated to M365 email, we are ready to begin the next phase of our transition to the M365 environment which consists of transferring older email storage Personal Storage Tables files (PST) to the cloud over the next six months. 

As announced in Coast Guard-wide Migration to Microsoft 365 - SITREP 4 ALCOAST 071/21, PST files are an antiquated and less secure method used to store older emails. I’m sure many of you have fell victim to the inherent problems associated with PST files including becoming corrupt or inaccessible when you needed them the most. 

Recall that the enhanced capabilities within M365 bumped up personal mailbox storage from five Gigabytes (GB) to 100 GB. Along with this improvement, M365 also gives us an unlimited storage “Online Archive Folder” in Outlook where emails that are older than two years will automatically be transferred, ultimately serving as a more stable environment and replacement for PSTs. 

Later this month, and similar to the rollout of M365 email, the C5I Service Center will send email notifications to each user leading up to their PST scheduled migration date. Within these notifications, users will receive amplifying information on the automated migration process with the caveat of PST files being temporarily unavailable for approximately two weeks during the transition. Included in these communications is a recommended option to self-migrate, specifically geared for users who are active users of their PSTs and use a complex folder structure that they would like to retain, along with those who prefer to avoid a period of temporary inaccessibility. The notifications will also inform the users where and how to report issues if the PST files do not properly import.

After two successful pilots, the C5I community is currently undergoing the migration process at scale.  We’ll then move on to users within D7, D8, and D9 as well as users transferring this summer. Once complete, the remaining Atlantic Area personnel will resume followed by headquarter and Pacific Area. 

Most users should not experience any significant changes with current email within Microsoft Outlook. The most apparent change will be emails within transferred PST files less than two years old will move to a “USCG-PST” folder in the main mailbox and older emails will move to a “USCG-PST” folder in the Online Archive Folder in Outlook. Moving forward, emails older than two years will automatically move to the Online Archive Folder. Subsequent guidance on how long the Coast Guard will allow users to retain emails will come at a later date, but no limits are being imposed at this time.

Crew members assigned to cutters will continue to leverage PSTs as is; efforts are underway to complete onboard server upgrades throughout the fleet by December. Members transferring to or from cutters will receive specific guidance on transitioning between onboard email servers and M365.

This phase of M365 marks yet another significant milestone towards the Coast Guard’s Tech Revolution. More to follow on CG Teams, OneDrive, SharePoint Online, and expect to hear more from me soon regarding the decommissioning of CVR Teams in June.

Many complexities continue behind the scenes DoD-wide on the M365 front, but again, your C5I Community remains "on it!"