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DISA awards $16 million contract to manage smartphones, tablets

Jun. 28, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  

The Defense Information Systems Agency has awarded a potential $16 million contract to Digital Management Inc. (DMI) of Bethseda, Md., to provide software that can centrally manage smartphones and tablet computers and control which apps are used on those devices.

The software, known as a mobile device management (MDM) solution, would manage at least 162,500 devices at the outset, with the potential to support 262,500 by the end of the contract, according to a solicitation released last fall. DoD has projected it will ultimately support 8 million devices, including all department-issued mobile devices and computers.

This contract “is the next major step forward in DOD’s process for building a multi-vendor environment, supporting a diverse selection of devices and operating systems,” DISA said in a news release Friday.

BlackBerry’s strong security features have made it the most widely used smartphone in the U.S. federal government for years, especially at DoD. But that is quickly changing as feds press their agencies for alternatives.

The announcement comes a month after the Defense Department approved government-issued iPhones and iPads to operate on the Pentagon’s network, specifically devices using Apple’s iOS 6 operating system. Last month, DoD also approved Samsung’s Android Knox, BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.

DISA’s mobile device management solution will enable system administrators to update and delete applications on mobile devices remotely. Mobile device users will be able to download and install approved software applications through a departmentwide Web portal.

DMI will begin work July 9. The contract has a base period of one year with an award amount of $2.9 million, DISA announced Friday. There are four six-month option periods that could bring the contract ceiling to $16 million. DMI supports several agencies and major companies, including the Agriculture and Heath and Human Services departments, Toshiba and Nike.

According to the latest data provided by DoD, the department currently has more than 600,000 commercial mobile devices in use and in a pilot test phase, including 470,000 Blackberrys, 41,000 Apple devices and 8,700 Android devices.

In its solicitation, DISA said the new solution would not be required to support BlackBerry and Windows devices, but that seems unlikely considering the large number of Blackberry’s being used today by DoD and the fact that DISA is currently reviewing Windows smartphones and tablet computers for department use.

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