DOD Pushes Military's Mobile Strategy Forward - InformationWeek

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10/26/2012
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DOD Pushes Military's Mobile Strategy Forward

Defense Department is serious about getting smartphones into soldiers' hands, according to new mobile device management and app store vendor solicitations.

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The Department of Defense has pushed forward toward implementing an enterprise-wide mobile device strategy, as the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) announced that it's looking for mobile device management (MDM) software and an enterprise mobile application store capable of supporting 260,000 mobile devices.

The release of procurement documents Oct. 22 indicates that the Defense Department is serious about the enterprise mobile strategy it announced in June 2012, and that it aims to deploy large numbers of smartphones to soldiers across the military sooner rather than later.

DISA is looking for MDM software that will: work with, at a minimum, iOS and Android devices; remotely manage software and configurations on employees' mobile devices; and remotely wipe devices when lost, stolen or compromised, among other features. There have been other recent sizable MDM contracts in government: the Department of Veterans Affairs recently signed on with vendor AirWatch to manage 100,000 devices.

[ RIM's best days in Washington may be in the past. See BlackBerry Loses Its Grip On Federal Government. ]

DISA is also looking for an app store to enable employees to search for and download enterprise mobile apps. Enterprise mobile application stores are increasingly popular across the military and the rest of the federal government.

The mobile device strategy that DOD announced in June indicated that the military was seeking a "common vision and approach" to mobile. Among the strategy's goals are to "[i]nstitute mobile device policies and standards," a goal that a large mobile device management deployment would support. Another goal is to "[p]romote the development and use of DOD mobile and Web-enabled applications." An app store would support that goal.

DISA indicated in a new five-year strategic plan released in September that "secure mobile capability leveraging commercial mobile technology" would be among the agency's key focuses over the next several years.

While DISA is not DOD headquarters, the military has long used the agency as a network service provider, and is now increasingly using DISA as a service provider in other venues as well, such as cloud computing and email. Earlier this year, agency officials touted DISA as a focal point of DOD's enterprise-wide mobile strategy. DISA made a nod to this possibility in the Oct. 22 procurement documents, noting that the MDM and app store could both later expand to meet the needs of the entire military.

As of June, according to the Department of Defense, the military already had 250,000 "commercial" mobile devices, including several thousand iOS and Android devices, across both production environments and pilot tests. Other enterprise-wide steps the agency is already taking include carrying out an inventory of mobile devices and wireless service contracts.

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