Saturday, September 5, 2015

Don't blame the user

For anyone that has DISA email, if you are over the email server limit, be prepared to be drawn and quartered!

In an effort to lower costs and streamline usage, the Defense Information Systems Agency this fall will be coming down harder on defense enterprise email users exceeding their mailbox size limits.
The Army has more than 1.4 million enterprise email users, most of which are considered "basic" users with a max mailbox limit of 512 megabytes. Some other users fall under "business class" designation, allocated up to 4 gigabytes of storage space. Until this point, though, those size limits largely went unchecked.

That will change come Oct. 1, according to an Army release stipulating that more than 75,000 Army personnel have exceeded 4 gigabytes, and nearly 8,000 have exceeded 10 gigabytes. The heavy use "makes for a slow, inefficient and costly email system for both the individual user and the Army as a whole."

"Using email effectively is one way that today's Army personnel can help reduce costs and make communications more agile, from the home front to the tactical edge," John Howell, Army Program Executive Officer Enterprise Information Systems product director for enterprise content collaboration and messaging. "Each user has a role to play to help facilitate state-of-the-art access to email from any location, by being mindful of the limits already in place to reduce costs and launch times."

As a tech guy, I can appreciate the fact that having a massive amount of data in your email account that regularly has to be synchronized is a pain the butt.  And, as a tech guy, I think the way we go about enforcing this is stupid.

Apparently nobody asks the first question: why on earth would you use your email as a filing cabinet?

Well, for starters, most people's bosses send tasking via email.  Why?  Because they can quickly share email with people, instead of an Outlook Task (which must be assigned to only one person).  Plus, have you tried updating the task list?  It's a pain in the butt, unlike an email which you can quickly reply to all.

I would love to have a tasking system on SharePoint.  Heck, we even get free SharePoint courtesy of Intelink.  But if you want to modify it to fit your purposes, good luck.  DISA and NMCI won't let you install SharePoint Designer without handing over your first born child.  So instead you are left with a working, but very clunky, SharePoint.  Your boss will then tell you to go back to email.

Since you can't modify SharePoint, you can't make a custom task list that syncs with multiple email accounts, nor can you make custom workflows that would automatically hand a task from one person to another.  Thus, bosses are left emailing tasks and saving the emails...resulting in massive email inboxes.

Another issue is attachments.  Ideally we'd all have a space where we can store files, so we don't use email inboxes.  But that isn't addressed by DISA.  You can get space on Inteldocs, but it can't store PII, plus you get a new email every command, so your Intelink ID changes, not giving you access to your files.  So once again, people end up storing files in their email, since it's the only guaranteed place they can reach them.

Enterprise services are supposed to enable the warfighter and make him or her more productive.  Instead, the end user ends up spending time managing their inbox rather than using advanced tools to help keep them focused on their work.  DISA isn't paying enough attention to the user and has apparently forgotten what it means to be a combat support agency.