PMO gets help to develop ESnet interface

The federal Electronic Messaging Group (EMG) is trying to make sure that specialized areas are included in the governmentwide electronic-mail initiative and is pulling together the Energy Science Network (ESnet) and Federal Networking Council (FNC) to develop a "functional interface" for the ESnet community.

In a recent letter to senior agency officials, Jack Finley, program manager at the EMG, formerly known as the E-Mail Program Management Office and now a part of the Federal Telecommunications Service, said the three groups will also work together to define and implement federal initiatives in the federal research and educational communities as well as assist in governmentwide electronic-messaging efforts. ESnet provides high-speed, high-bandwidth networking to the Energy Department labs and NASA research centers.

"They are a specialized discipline, and their communications needs are a little different than the average agency," Finley said. "This [cooperation] is to ensure we don't leave anyone out. It does make [our initiative] more comprehensive."

The E-Mail PMO strategy endorses the use of X.400, used by the Defense Message System, or Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol, Finley said. ESnet supports the more rudimentary Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), which is most common in TCP/IP networks.

John Cavallini, deputy director of scientific computing at DOE, said developing a functional interface will ensure that specialized users are not cut off from the rest of government.

"The obvious thing is that we're mainly SMTP-based Internet users," he said. "The direction the E-Mail PMO is taking is more X.400, so I don't think we should throw away the opportunity to interface with the world at large."

By developing a gateway, "the capability would exist for other people to implement," Cavallini said. "We need to build capabilities to make interoperability between the two systems."

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