US Defence dept rolls out microsoft team and office 365 environment for upto 4 million people

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The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is having people work remotely through a temporary work environment based on Microsoft Teams (via Computerworld). It’s called the Commercial Virtual Remote (CVR) environment, and it is a DoD-only deployment of Microsoft Teams and several Office 365 tools. The CVR environment will allow a large number of DoD employees to work remotely during the current health crisis. Up to four million military and civilian workers could work in the environment. 

DoD employees will be able to chat, make video calls, and share and collaborate on documents using the CVR environment. While other deployments of Microsoft Teams are restricted and not allowed on some devices, the CVR environment will be accessible on personal devices and mobile devices on commercial networks. 

The DoD has restricted what types of information can be shared through the CVR environment, though. Specifically, the CVR environment can be used for information classed between IL2-IL4, which means the data is cleared for public release. For comparison, the Air Force’s Cloud Hosted Enterprise Services Teams environment can be used for data classified up to IL5. The highest level of classification is IL6. 

The DoD started rolling out the CVR environment on March 27, 2020, and has already activated 900,000 user accounts as of April 13, 2020. In a single day last week, more than 250,000 accounts were added to the CVR environment. DoD CIO Dana Deasy said, “This is the largest rollout ever implemented in this short amount of time” in a briefing on Monday. 

The goal is to be able to provide access to up to 4 million staff, though that figure won’t reflect the CVR environment’s daily active user count. Larry Cannel, a research director at Gartner, told Computerworld, “Four million appears to be a projected number and certainly will not reflect DAUs [daily active users]. Nevertheless, this is a massive environment.” The CVR environment is separate from the DoD’s other implementations for Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, meaning it’s separate from both the $7.6 billion contract to deploy Office 365 and Microsoft Teams across the DoD that was awarded to General Dynamics as part of the Defense Enterprise Solutions (DEOS) program and the JEDI cloud contract that could be worth up to $10 billion. 

The CVR environment has some notable differences when compared to other military implementations of similar technology. One example is that it can be accessed without requiring a VPN login. 

Earlier this month,  It was reported that the DoD was reportedly quickening its deployment of Microsoft Teams due to the current global health crisis. The screenshots shared for that report line up with this new information about the CVR environment, though we now have greater context to how the CVR environment is separate from other contracts and that is is a temporary environment. The CVR environment will be available for six months, according to documentation from the U.S. Air Force. 

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