Active Directory and Exchange migrations on way to Grand Forks

  • Published
  • By 319th Air Refueling Wing
  • Communications Squadron
To some, a computer on the desk and the ability to log on to a network are things commonly taken for granted. While a lot goes on behind the scenes to ensure e-mail gets delivered to the right place, the "behind the scenes" part is the daily battle against viruses and malicious attempts to disrupt access to Air Force networks.

Over the years, unique mission requirements and operational concerns drove major commands and various other organizations to stand-up and operate individual e-mail and network services. This "county-option" approach to networks lacked standardization, adequate security, and was very expensive to operate and maintain. More importantly, there was no enterprise situational awareness or "single" organization or commander responsible for the network.

As the Air Force continues transforming its cyber operations, a project called Active Directory and Exchange will change this environment and establish a "centralized" user directory and e-mail service for all Air Force network users. The goal of ADX is to collapse all existing stand-alone environments into a single structure within the AFNet under the operational control of a single commander.

With a projected start date of January 11, Grand Forks will become the first base in AMC and only the fifth base in the Air Force to migrate its users to the AFNet. While this change is relatively transparent, the migration to centralized services will significantly improve network security, standardize the cyber environment, and reduce operational costs by eliminating redundant systems and services. All 319th ARW personnel will be migrated during the four weeks the install team is here.

The most visible change to Grand Forks network users will be in the format of their e-mail addresses. The migration replaces the old e-mail address with a standard e-mail address, allowing central management of these accounts, and is an address kept for the duration of a career, employment, or affiliation with the Air Force regardless of the base or organization assigned. ADX builds on the successes of the "E-mail for Life" program, and as additional bases migrate into the AFNet, will provide Airmen log-on capability to any connected Air Force computer without having to re-register for computer access when they deploy, go TDY or PCS.

Simply stated, Airmen will have an account that is always active, and through the use of their Common Access Card, will have around the clock access to e-mail and network services such as the Air Force Portal, Air Force Personnel Center, Defense Finance Accounting Service, and any other site requiring authentication regardless of duty location, eliminating the need to de-activate or create accounts.

As Grand Forks approaches its projected start date, a team of Air Force Network Integration Center, 690th Network Support Group, and 319th Communications Squadron technicians are busy preparing equipment and resources to facilitate the migration of almost 3,500 users.

More information will be coming from in future articles and e-mails from the 319th Communications Squadron.