Change is coming

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt, 45th Space Wing Public Affairs

Airmen are seeing a change to their Outlook accounts that mirrors the capability that they have come to expect with their personal email.

Beginning April 5, 2017, the base begins fully migrating to the Cloud Hosted Enterprise Services system, under the Collaboration Pathfinder project, increasing storage to 1,000 times of the old capacity.

The project’s goal is to outsource collaborative tools such as email, Skype for Business and SharePoint to a cloud-based service, which reassigns communication resources to benefit Airmen by allowing them to use their time more efficiently.  

“One of the key advantages to our users is that they do not need to worry as much about running out of online storage. This frees up time they previously spent managing email and maintaining their Personal Storage (PST),” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Davis, 45th Space Communications Squadron commander. 

The new system is reliable and users can work from almost anywhere using a common access card, according to 1st Lt. Sarah Wolfson, 45th SCS operations flight deputy.

Email is the first of the Microsoft Office 365 services that Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station is implementing as part of the cloud-based service. Skype for Business will replace Lync, allowing users the opportunity to continue to collaborate with others in real time, and will be announced at a later date.

The roll out of the new SharePoint site will also be announced at a later date, according to Harold Jones, 45th SCS operations flight chief.  SharePoint will provide the Air Force with a standardized platform to host applications and allow team collaboration at every level, from small work centers to major commands. 

Users should be aware of the changes and take the appropriate steps for the migration.

In order to prepare and be proactive, users should remove any customized ‘inbox rules’ that they have set up on their email because it may hinder their account from fully migrating, according to Jones.

“An example of this is when a user has a rule that automatically moves incoming email from their inbox to a folder on their local computer,” Wolfson said. “Users can see what rules they have in place by going into Outlook, clicking on the “File” tab, and selecting “Manage Rules & Alerts.” 

For those who do not have any rules in place no further action is needed by the user, according to Wolfson.

“Your inbox will look the same but it will have a significant amount of storage,” Wolfson said.

One of the primary changes that users will first notice after they open their Outlook is that they will see a Microsoft Office 365 notification pop up indicating the migration has taken place, according to Wolfson.    

When the migration is fully implemented, nearly 6,000 user accounts here will be able to hold about two-million emails in their mailbox and another two million in an archive. Users will see their mailbox storage capacity increase to a 100-GB limit from the previous 90-MB storage limit. 

To ensure a smooth transition, users should look for 45th SCS Communication Focal Point (CFP) generated eAdvisories for migration related information, which is an email message to the base populace. 

Users should follow the End-User Migration Guide, sent via email, and loaded onto their computer desktops, according to the 45th SCS.

Questions and issues that cannot be resolved using the migration guide should be referred to the CFP by calling 321-494-2666.

The following are key highlights offered by the 45 SCS on what to expect before and after the migration:

Before the migration:
1. Check for and temporarily disable Exchange/Outlook rules before the migration.
For example: In Outlook, click "Rules" on the ribbon, click "Manage Rules and Alerts" and uncheck all of the boxes and then click "OK."
2. Someone in your office should print the CFP-provided instructions and everyone should follow them.
3. Good app on iPhones and iPads will stop working around the time your account migrates. Call the CFP at 321-494-2666 to schedule a time for them to help you set up your mobile device again.

During the migration:
Users will see an initial pop up in their Outlook as shown in the graphic. Users will need to click on “Work or school account.” From there, users will replace the Electronic Data Interchange Personal Identifier (EDIPI) number, which is the string of numbers followed by @mil in the username box with their email address, and then leave the “password” field blank. Finally, users will select “sign in” to login into Microsoft Office 365 for the first time.

After the migration:
1. Your email address will stay the same.
2. Your inbox will be 500x to 1000x larger.
3. The search function seems to give more comprehensive results for email on the server.
4. Don't worry that there's "no password" on your email; others can't log into your account.
5. The URL to access Outlook Web Access (OWA) webmail will change.  The 45th SCS suggests bookmarking these:
-- New off base URL:
-- New on base URL:
6. After the migration, to use Outlook when not on the AFNet (i.e., not at work), you'll need a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection.
-- To open a VPN connection, go to your desktop and double-click the "USAF AFNET SSL VPN" icon.
-- At home, you can connect via Peterson AFB.  To select a VPN destination, such as Peterson, click "Properties" and follow the prompts.
-- To start the VPN, click "Connect" and follow the prompts.
7. After the migration, if your email is down in Outlook, open a trouble ticket with the CFP and use webmail until a Client Systems Technician (CST) can resolve your ticket.
7a. The following are a few suggested updates that will improve your experience with OWA webmail:
--Go to one of the new webmail URLs and click Options (it's the gear-like icon in upper right corner).
--Under "General" click "Region and time zone" and set it to EST and then click "Save."  This changes your OWA time zone to Eastern.
--Under "Mail" click "S/MIME." If you don't see a sentence in the second paragraph that says, "This computer has the most recent version of the S/MIME control installed," then follow the onscreen instructions to load the S/MIME controls so you can send and receive signed or encrypted email in OWA.
--Under "Mail" click "Layout" then click "Message format."  Then uncheck "Always show from" and then click "Save."  This resolves an OWA digital signature issue.

Click here to read more about the migration: Air Force begins migrating email to cloud-based system in 2017