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Defense Department Aims for BYOD


TMCnews Featured Article

March 07, 2013

Defense Department Aims for BYOD

By Susan J. Campbell, TMCnet Contributing Editor

A number of mobile commercial solutions can enhance the enterprise environment, granting users greater capability, mobility and accessibility regardless of device or location. Now, it appears the federal government is following suit. 

According to a recent Reuters (News - Alert) report, 600,000 users within the Defense Department will be able to leverage tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices for the sharing of protected and classified data via the latest commercial technologies. 

Major General Robert Wheeler, the deputy chief information officer with the Defense Department, said that the agency aims to extend access to the latest technologies through secure methods while also remaining device agnostic. 

While the majority of government mobile users within the Defense Department are BlackBerry users, the change in policy could make it a fair fight for Apple (News - Alert) and Android to claim more of the market. After all, there are 470,000 BlackBerry users and only 41,000 Apple users. Apple has for years wanted to take more of BlackBerry’s (News - Alert) government sector.

The new system relies a robust mobile device management platform that will allow commercial devices to transmit heavily protected data. Such a platform also provides great visibility into user behavior, control over the device regardless of its location and the ability to extend policy enforcement to all users.

The decision to purchase new devices and provide services to users will be based on need. At launch, users will not have the flexibility to purchase their own mobile devices for use on the Pentagon’s networks. Ultimately, however, a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy is in the plan.

Teri Takai, chief information officer for the Pentagon said in a statement that the plan put will focus on aligning the various mobile devices, initiatives and pilots across the department under common objectives. Such an approach ensures these activities will ultimately benefit the war fighter. It also ensures the workforce is relevant when cybersecurity and information accessibility are critical elements in missions.

The Defense Department, as part of its implementation plan, has asked companies to submit proposals to provide mobile device management to meet the department’s needs. Proposals should include an application store that allows users to gain access to the programs they need to use on their devices.

This move is a critical one for the Defense Department as they are taking a first step toward mobile flexibility. The mobile device management platform is key, yet many an organization in the commercial sector has ignored this important step. According to survey findings featured in this TMCnet article, 54 percent of companies have already adopted a BYOD strategy. The percentage of companies adopting mobile device management solutions is much lower, indicating a gap between accessibility and secure use.

Edited by Ashley Caputo

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