Commerce explores shared e-mail service

The Commerce Department is exploring the idea of migrating its bureaus to a centralized, contractor-operated e-mail service.

Commerce issued a request for information this month for what it termed a departmentwide Shared Service Center. That center would provide e-mail, calendar and instant-messaging services. It would also support the use of mobile devices such as Research in Motion BlackBerries.

The department envisions a “centrally managed infrastructure and the creation of a shared-services model,” according to the RFI. “The initial objective should be the migration of all [department] components to a single electronic communication and calendaring platform.”

The service center would need to provide services for at least 50,000 e-mail, calendar, IM and mobile users. The RFI also calls for the contractor to support Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 as the e-mail server and Microsoft Outlook 2003, Microsoft Entourage, Mozilla Thunderbird and Apple Mail as e-mail clients.

Commerce also wants the contractor to back up e-mail daily and retain two months of off-site backup tapes, according to the RFI. In a disaster, the department wants the contractor to restore e-mail services in two to four hours and make messaging services fully operational within 48 hours.

Commerce is issuing the RFI to identify potential sources and determine market interest. Responses are due June 25. If the department opts to pursue a procurement, it will issue a solicitation in August or September.

Several vendors offer hosted Exchange services, including Apptix, NaviSite and USinternetworking.

Moore is a freelance writer based in Syracuse, N.Y.

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