FAA picks IBM for messaging

The Federal Aviation Administration has chosen an IBM Corp. enterprise messaging system to replace the FAA's outdated e-mail system.

The FAA awarded a contract to IBM under the agency's Next Generation Messaging System (NexGen) program on June 20. The contract is expected to exceed $30 million over its 10-year lifetime.

NexGen, which will be based on IBM subsidiary Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes product, will consolidate more than 850 e-mail "post offices" on servers spread across 379 locations, according to the FAA. When finished, the new system will rely on just 12 server locations, which will improve communications and decrease life-cycle costs, according to the agency.

IBM will consolidate the post offices and servers over the next 18 months, and it may also provide support and maintenance for the new system during the contract's nine option years.

The FAA began seeking a replacement for its current system, Lotus' cc:Mail, last year. A final requirements document for NexGen released in June 2000 calls for the new system to include all of cc:Mail Version 8.4's functions as well as add new functionality, including collaboration, fax and scheduling capabilities.

The requirements document lists three areas — user and technical, migration, and training — ranked in three phases:

* Phase I requirements are features already included in cc:Mail or those ranked as critical for conducting FAA day-to-day business.

* Phase II requirements are features in limited use or not in use that were ranked as a high priority by FAA users.

* Phase III requirements are those ranked highly by a smaller number of users that employ still-emerging technologies or those not supported by open standards.

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