By now you have likely seen several ALCOASTs – not to mention splash screens, emails, and MyCG articles – about Microsoft 365 (M365).
In a nutshell, some cutting-edge tools are being added to your daily routine, and they’ll drastically improve the way you work.
This article is all about the big picture. We’ll walk you through what M365 is, what it means to you, and how it will improve the way you work. We'll also give you an overview of what we’ve done, what we’re doing, and what’s coming next.
A quick note before we get started – the full M365 suite offers a ton of apps that can transform and automate much of our everyday work, while helping us collaborate easier. But getting the entire U.S. military to adopt M365 is a marathon, not a sprint. And like so many other things over the past year, the pandemic put a monkey wrench in our initial plans of a spread out and phased approach to implementation. So please bear with us, we’re working hard to keep the project moving ahead while ensuring you have the most essential tools right now.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
M365 is now DoD365.
First, let's set the stage. The transition to M365 may be the largest transformation the Coast Guard has undergone, technology-wise, in the past two decades.
Microsoft says M365 is “designed to help you achieve more with innovative Office apps, intelligent cloud services, and world-class security.” You got an early peek at some of these tools, when the Department of Defense (DoD) launched CVR Teams to support remote work during the pandemic. CVR will be decommissioned in June 2021 due to security concerns and all military branches will be transitioning to the more secure, permanent version (currently branded as USCG Teams for us), but hopefully you’ve liked it so far! And there’s a lot more on the way.
The DoD is choreographing this large-scale, highly complex initiative across all the service branches in lockstep. The DoD is also evaluating and customizing the M365 suite of products and tailoring it to meet security requirements. When complete, the DoD's 365 product suite will have many of the same tools as the standard commercial version, but it won't be identical.
As a result, the DoD has officially branded its suite of M365 applications as DoD365. Moving forward, the Coast Guard will refer to M365 as DoD365.
Ok, check! Its DoD365 now and forever, but what really is it?
But what IS DoD365, and why should I care?
DoD365 is on the cloud – meaning it runs on the Internet, instead of locally on your computer. So it’s more secure, more stable, and offers infinite capacity and computing power.
DoD365 brings enhanced productivity and collaboration tools, including integrated voice, video, and chat platforms with file sharing, cloud storage, and applications such as Teams, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, SharePoint Online, and OneDrive.
Sounds great, but where is this leading us?
Eventually, you will have secure access to a suite of integrated tools that will allow you to collaborate and exchange information at the next level. You’ll be able to use these tools through either a desktop app or the Internet, whichever you prefer. And you’ll have access from both your work computer and your personal computer.
However, many milestones must be reached before these capabilities can be fully realized.
To hold you over, here is a snapshot of what is happening now and what is on the horizon.
- Email has migrated to the cloud. Almost 100 percent of eligible users are now migrated to DoD365 e-mail. Even if you haven’t noticed much of a difference beyond greater storage (from 5GB to 100GB!), trust us when we tell you there is a lot more than meets the eye. We’ll tell you more on that in the future, but essentially, this was the first milestone in bringing the Coast Guard’s workforce into the DoD365 cloud environment.
- Email Storage Files (PSTs) are moving to the cloud. If you’ve never heard of a PST file, this milestone probably doesn’t affect you. However, it is recommended that you review ALCOAST 071/21 and carefully read the recent all-hands email on PSTs to be sure. As background, the Coast Guard used to use PST files to store information in Outlook, and some members still use this approach. The C5I Service Center has started transferring e-mail PST files to the DoD365 cloud. Please keep an eye out for any communication from C5I, who will support PST file users through the transition. Timeline: Now through June 2021.
- We’re moving from CVR Teams to DoD365 Teams. As a reminder, CVR has been a temporary capability to support large-scale telework during the pandemic. DoD365 Teams (USCG Teams) will take its place. Eventually, DoD365 Teams will offer most of the tools available in CVR – plus a whole lot more. You already have access to a limited version of DoD365 Teams, you can get there through Pixel or the Internet. Please start transitioning yourself – and your team – over to DoD365 Teams. DoD365 Office Home (aka "O Home") is your landing page for Teams and all the new apps. You can also access them through Pixel. Timeline: Now through June 2021.
- DoD365 Teams will be installed on your desktop. The C5I Service Center and CGCYBER are aggressively working to bring you a desktop application that will automatically load when you log on. The desktop application also comes a few additional perks, like better gallery views and screen sharing. Timeline: April or May 2021.
- CVR Teams will be decommissioned in June. That's right - CVR Teams will go away on June 15. Please plan to say farewell to CVR – and get ready to start using DoD365 Teams. Efforts are in place to bring CVR-like capabilities to DoD365, but most will not be ready by June. The biggest gap will be in collaborating with entities outside of the Coast Guard network, so the Coast Guard is driving to integrate phone bridge capabilities into DoD365 Teams by June 15. (Other options are Defense Collaboration Service (DCS), the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN), or submitting a Special Use Information Technology request.) Also, you should act now and save any critical information from CVR Teams on to government-furnished equipment. You can learn more in ALCOAST 156/21. Timeline: June 15.
On the Horizon
- Transition to OneDrive. In a nutshell, OneDrive will replace your “U” drive so you can store your files in the cloud. OneDrive is more stable and more accessible, plus you’ll be able to edit work in real-time with other collaborators. (Say goodbye to version control issues!) If you’ve already migrated to DoD365 email, you can start using OneDrive anytime. We’ll be talking more about OneDrive in the coming months, and you can also find more information at https://cglink.uscg.mil/C5ISC-CG-COS (CAC required to access). Timeline: May through August.
- Portal will be upgraded to SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online will be a more stable environment for the content currently housed on the Portal, which was built using a legacy form of SharePoint. SharePoint Online will also offer great integration with all the DoD365 tools. DoD and Microsoft are still engineering this tool for military use, we’ll let you know when SharePoint Online is closer to becoming a reality. Timeline: FY 2022.
- More apps and tools. Stay tuned, as we’ll be expanding DoD365’s functionality as we move ahead. Timeline: Continuous.
Hopefully you’re starting to understand why this project is considered one of the most complex the Coast Guard has experienced in recent history! So if you’ve played with some available applications in DoD365 to date, and aren’t yet fully impressed, please keep an open mind! More great stuff is coming that will one day make your life much easier.
- CG-6 is partnering with MyCG to make sure you know when we’re approaching a new milestone. We’ll also soon be sharing tips, ideas, case studies and trainings to help you take advantage of all these new tools! (Do you have a case study to share? Please tell us! E-mail MyCG@uscg.mil.)
- DoD365 Office Home (aka "O Home") is your landing page for all the new apps.
- Coast Guard's DoD365 Portal Page includes a training hub, document library, FAQ, welcome videos, links to MyCG articles and ALCOAST messages, user guides and quick-start guides.
- ALCOAST 071/21 covers the PST migration.
- ALCOAST 156/21 outlines your virtual collaboration options.
- Defense Collaboration Service is a free video and phone tool, accessible through the CGOne Network.
- The Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) is the official collaboration service used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is free, available on the web, and cleared for use up to CUI/FOUO.