February 1, 2010 By Matt Williams
New York will move all state employees to a single e-mail system within 18 months in a project that state CIO Melodie Mayberry-Stewart said is beginning this week.
Mayberry-Stewart told Government Technology on Monday that the aggressive time frame and the migration's size are probably of unique scope compared to similar e-mail consolidations done by other states.
The e-mail consolidation was announced in a Jan. 28 memorandum from State Operations Director Valerie Grey to state agency heads. Gov. David A. Paterson's Executive Budget estimates that moving to a single e-mail system will save $4 million when implemented. Mayberry-Stewart and the state Office for Technology (CIO/OFT) have been tasked with developing a migration plan.
New York isn't the first to consolidate e-mail systems, although it may be the most populous state to do so. Alabama, Michigan and others have reported cost-savings by doing it; others, such as California, are in the planning or discussion phase.
Mayberry-Stewart said her office will meet this week with the agencies at a kickoff event, to be followed by meetings that will tailor migration plans for the individual agencies.
"Whereas we're standardizing, we know that each agency may have its own unique needs, so that's going to be the challenge -- to address those unique needs while we continue to move forward with enterprise service levels," Mayberry-Stewart said.
In a similar vein, another challenge will be standardizing security practices and how information is used, she added. "That may vary by agency, and we're going to try to standardize on that as much as possible without sacrificing the unique needs of those agencies," she said.
All state agencies will migrate to NYSeMail (pronounced "Nice-Mail"), the enterprise system managed by the CIO/OFT and stored in its data centers. Built on Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, NYSeMail currently is used by 25 state agencies and 50,000 users. The system's features include anti-virus and spam control, Web-based access, calendaring and scheduling, and support on mobile devices.
But another 24 agencies (totaling 93,000 users) currently work on one of at least five other e-mail systems, most which are Lotus or Novell. Those will be migrated. "We don't know what we'll encounter in terms of their own applications that might have been embedded in their own e-mail systems," Mayberry-Stewart said.
The CIO/OFT will iron out service-level agreements with each agency.
Mayberry-Stewart said it's unknown if the CIO/OFT will need to buy additional servers to manage the added users and data. The goal is to keep the project cost-neutral for the agencies, she said.
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