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EA Status of Communications

The scope of the EA Domain Team for Communications includes four components:

  1. Enterprise-level Approach
  2. Integrated and Interoperable System
  3. Advanced Technology and Functionality
  4. Responsive Training

1. Enterprise-level Approach

Current State:

  • Most agencies have internally standardized on a suite of desktop technologies. Policies to extend standardization throughout the enterprise are broadly written.
  • Two groupware systems are supported across the enterprise for email and calendaring. Forty agencies consisting of 3400 accounts use one system while six agencies consisting of 3600 accounts use the other. A third enterprise system is used to support 2000 accounts that only have a requirement for email (primarily within local government). Six agencies consisting of 1600 accounts continue to support their own stand-alone servers for email and calendaring.
  • An enterprise solution exists for faxing that is used by about fifteen agencies. A few agencies run their own stand-alone servers for faxing.
  • Technologies such as instant messaging, desktop audio/video conferencing, presence detection, white-boarding, and application sharing have not been deployed at an enterprise level. Projects to implement such systems are pending based upon whether Enterprise Architecture will support the concept of a single enterprise solution for groupware.
  • A number of collaborative applications exist, but their benefits rarely extend beyond the boundaries of a single agency.
  • Office automation software varies by vendor and version throughout the enterprise. In some cases, it varies within individual agencies. Volume-licensing discounts via enterprise-level contracts exist for some vendors, but purchasing options are often confusing and are not typically coordinated among agencies. When collaborative applications are deployed across agency boundaries, redundant licensing is often required.

Future State:

  • A single, standardized suite of desktop technologies across the enterprise for groupware, word processing, spreadsheets, presentation design, desktop publishing, desktop database support, and web browsing.
  • A single, standardized set of technologies across the enterprise for groupware functionality such as e-mail, calendaring, faxing, instant messaging, desktop audio/video conferencing, presence detection, white-boarding, application sharing, and collaborative applications.
  • An office automation system that keeps current with software versions and leverages volume-licensing discounts via enterprise-level contracts.

Gap Analysis:

  • Define clear statement of “Why” (Vision & Goals)
  • Survey usage of existing office automation suites and groupware components within state government
  • Research industry vendors and trends related to office automation suites and groupware components
  • Consider various migration paths, tools, and services
  • Evaluate licensing options and funding sources
  • Seek input from Gartner Professional Services
  • Select a single office automation suite
  • Select a single enterprise groupware system
  • Update ND State Policies & Standards accordingly
  • Implement migration to a single enterprise groupware system
  • Implement migration to a single office automation suite
  • Implement advanced groupware components such as Instant Messaging, Desktop Audio/Video Conferencing, Presence Detection, White-boarding, and Application Sharing

2. Integrated and Interoperable System

Current State:

  • Our history has been to create systems that function well within the boundaries of a single agency and then rely on gateways and converters to interoperate among agencies. Even the enterprise systems that exist split state government into two pools of users.
  • Email integration works fairly well among state agencies. However, functionality quickly breaks down when dealing with such things as calendars, shared resources, advanced features, rich formatting, and directory integration.
  • An enterprise approach to groupware has already greatly reduced the need for individual agencies to provide hardware, licenses, and administrative expertise at the server level. However, the combination of stand-alone servers in agencies and multiple enterprise solutions continues to cause duplication of resources and added complexities.
  • It is difficult to implement new technology into the enterprise without compounding its complexity. Often, adding a single feature can only be accomplished by implementing software from multiple vendors or by compromising on desired functionality. While reacting to emerging opportunities, problems, and threats, option are limited, timelines are lengthened, and costs are increased.
  • Both of the enterprise groupware systems benefit from the use of a “global” address book. However, these proprietary directories are completely independent of one another and therefore require manual synchronization. Each agency still running a stand-alone server also has its own independent directory structure.
  • In most cases, users authenticate against one directory for their workstation resources and against another for groupware functionality. An enterprise directory service has been deployed in an effort to consolidate these processes; however, agency participation has been limited because of resource requirements.

Future State:

  • An office automation system that includes feature-rich functionality beyond basic industry standards and achieves 100% integration and interoperability throughout the enterprise. Systems must also be highly compatible with those outside of the enterprise.
  • An office automation system configured with nominal complexity so that administration and support efforts can be minimized, training can be leveraged, and job duties can be refocused to reduce redundancy. An efficiently designed system that allows for the rapid deployment of new technology and positions the enterprise to react quickly to emerging opportunities, problems and threats.
  • A groupware system that utilizes a single directory for authentication, access control, directory lookups, and distribution lists.

Gap Analysis:

  • Create detailed migration plan
  • Implement migration to a single enterprise groupware system
  • Implement migration to a single office automation suite
  • Implement advanced groupware components such as Instant Messaging, Desktop Audio/Video Conferencing, Presence Detection, White-boarding, and Application Sharing 

3. Advanced Technology and Functionality

Current State:

  • Support for advanced technologies is limited. Resources set aside for groupware initiatives are depleted by the support requirements of our distributed, multi-vendor environment. As a result, new technologies tend to compound complexity, cost more than they should, and fuel turf-wars among agencies.
  • Reporting/monitoring tools are limited within the boundaries of each system. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to obtain a consolidated view of the entire enterprise.
  • Anti-virus protection has been deployed at various levels. Roughly half of the agencies utilize an enterprise system to keep workstations and servers updated with anti-virus protection. From an email perspective, all messages sent into state government are scanned for viruses immediately after passing through the firewall. An additional layer of protection has been installed on each of the enterprise groupware servers. Multiple layers of protection offer the best defense against viruses. However, duplication of resources occurs when various clients need to be supported in order to protect a multi-vendor environment.
  • Unsolicited commercial email, or spam, is on the rise. A project to evaluate anti-spam software has received the approval of Enterprise Architecture and is underway.
  • Devices acting as open email relays need to be secured or the entire network risks being “blacklisted”. In regards to State Government, a firewall and a set of secure email relays have virtually eliminated the chance of open email relays. However, devices used by Higher Education and Local Government are generally not protected from becoming open email relays (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Future State:

  • A groupware system that supports advanced technologies such as remote clients, PDAs, wireless communication, signed/encrypted messages, voice-over-IP, blast-faxing, and a "Unified Inbox".
  • A groupware system that includes reporting/monitoring tools, anti-spam/anti-virus protection, and control over devices acting as open email relays.

Gap Analysis:

  • Implement an enterprise anti-spam solution
  • Implement measures to prevent “open email relays” within the enterprise
  • Implement tools for enterprise monitoring and reporting of groupware components
  • Explore and implement advanced technologies such as remote clients, PDAs, wireless communication, signed/encrypted messages, voice-over-IP, blast-faxing, and a “Unified Inbox".

4. Responsive Training

Current State:

  • Central Personnel has identified local businesses that provide product-specific office automation training at a per-user cost to agencies. Any advanced training specific to the state's environment is left up to the discretion of each agency

Future State:

  • An enterprise-level training program that covers basic office automation functionality with supplemental training provided by agencies

Gap Analysis:

  • Develop an enterprise-level training program

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