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10/31/2011
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DOD Approves Dell Android Tablet For Use

Dell's Streak 5 tablet is being tested for use on defense networks, where the RIM BlackBerry currently prevails.

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The Department of Defense (DOD) has approved the use of Dell's Android-based mobile OS on its networks, paving the way for widespread use of Android-based smartphones and tablets throughout the military.

The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) has published a Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) for the Dell Android mobile platform, according to a Dell blog post by Joe Ayers, an executive with Dell's government business.

The agency used Dell Streak 5 tablets to achieve the certification, anticipating adoption of next year's line of Dell's Android devices throughout the military, Ayers said.

Dell released the tablet device in 2010, although it is no longer being sold commercially because its form factor was not "ideal for consumer use," according to a Dell spokesman. The form factor works for the military, however, he said.

[Read how a government initiative promises to coordinate the adoption of mobile devices in Mobile Government: Feds Seek Improved Strategy, Coordination.]

Dell worked with Good Technologies to secure the OS so military personnel will have secure access to email, documents, and a partitioned system of Android and other business applications, according to Ayers. The DOD can send information securely from Microsoft Exchange-based servers and network operations centers through Good's mobile device manager to Streak 5 devices.

Currently, only Research in Motion's BlackBerry smartphones devices are widely used on defense networks. The initial approval of Dell's Android OS is mainly to test the use of the devices on the network; next year the military plans to broaden their use.

"With access to the Android ecosystem, members of the military will have access to information on their PCs or desktops, command and control programs, and a number of different powerful solutions that enable members in the military to operate with similar capabilities as those in controlled environments," according to Ayers.

DISA did not immediately respond to a request for information Monday.

The military has been exploring the use of both Android- and Apple-based smartphone devices, but most implementations have been branch specific.

The Army, for instance, has piloted programs using both types of smartphones for soldiers in the field. The Navy said recently < href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/mobile/231500613">it's working on the approval of iPhones, iPads, Android-based mobile devices and BlackBerry-based tablets on the unclassified networks of the Navy and Marine Corps. And the Coast Guard in August became the first military arm to officially approve the use of iPhones and Android-based smartphones for its personnel.

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