California's Enterprise Migration to Cloud Email Moves Forward

California is inching closer to achieving a single system for email and productivity tools across state government. By the end of 2017, the vast majority of email accounts kept by California's state government — perhaps 90 percent or more — will be hosted off-premises in Microsoft's government cloud.

by / February 9, 2017

California is inching closer to achieving a single system for email and productivity tools across the state government.

By the end of 2017, officials say the vast majority of email accounts kept by California's state government — perhaps 90 percent or more — will be hosted off-premises in Microsoft's government cloud.

That will be the end result after the California retires its on-premise CA.Mail system and its off-premise California Email Service (CES). CA.Mail is going offline Dec. 31. 2017, and the CES contract expires in October. So state customers are migrating en masse to Office 365 in the cloud.

"The state and Department of Technology is committed to working with government to define some enterprise standards for technology, and this [email system] is one of the first ones out of the gate: We have a common framework now for how we manage, maintain and secure email," Department of Technology chief deputy director Chris Cruz said on Wednesday.

The migration is well underway. The Department of Technology provided some statistics to TechWire on the progress so far, current as of February:

  • 27 departments (24 CES, 3 CA.Mail) have completed their migration so far, totaling 84,000 mailboxes.
  • 72 departments in all will migrate to Office 365 by December 2017. Of these, there are 170,000 mailboxes (CES: 99,000 and CA.Mail 71,000)
  • 10 additional departments that host their own email are interested in migrating. This would add another 15,000 mailboxes.

These numbers indicate approximately 185,000 mailboxes could be in Office 365 by the conclusion of 2017.

For state customers using the CES system, transition services are being provided for free by Microsoft, via Planet Technologies or other resellers. CA.Mail customers are hiring outside consultants to help with their migration. ENS-Inc., based in the Sacramento area, also is providing services.

There could be several advantages to widespread adoption of Office 365. One is that licensing and renewals for the email and productivity suite will be centrally managed at the Department of Technology; previously, departments agreed to licenses individually and one-by-one. Another benefit should be the features that Office 365 brings the state workforce, such as 50-gigabyte mailboxes, online versions of Office and SharePoint, Skype for Business, 1 terabyte of storage per user, and more.

The common platform also should help standardize California's cybersecurity. Office 365 is compliant with several major security standards — FedRAMP, FIPS, HIPAA, IRS 1075 and will enable two-factor authentication, single sign-on and mobile device management capabilities.

"This is obviously very significant because it gets the state to a single statewide email system and platform, which allows us to secure our data in a much more up-to-date-fashion that meets all the highest levels of security compliance," Cruz said.

So far, California has spent about $35 million to date on Office 365 licenses and renewals for this project, covering 85 percent of the departments that will be migrating.

This article was orginially published on Techwire.

Matt Williams Contributing Writer

Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2