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Pentagon preps for large-scale mobile rollout

Dec. 11, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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An airman use a tablet computer to perform a pre-flight inspection on an HH-60G helicopter. (Air Force)

In less than a month, the Pentagon is expected to roll out initial capabilities for centrally managing its growing inventory of smartphones and tablet computers.

That’s good news for mobile users anxiously awaiting approval to connect Android and Apple devices to Pentagon networks on a wider scale. In May, the Defense Department approved government-issued Apple devices using the iOS 6 operating system to connect to its networks, so long as they are operated within the confines of mobility pilots or a mobile device management (MDM) solution, once that is in place.

Likewise, the Samsung Knox version of Android was approved for use on DoD networks, pending the rollout of an MDM solution, said DoD spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart.

The MDM and mobile application store (MAS) capabilities are being provided by Bethesda, Md.-based DMI and offered through the Defense Information Systems Agency as an enterprise service to DoD users. DISA expects its MDM capability will support up to 100,000 users this fiscal year with the potential to scale up to 300,000 devices over the three-year contract.

DISA will also support BlackBerry devices with the existing Blackberry Enterprise Server, Pickart said.

The reality is that not everybody in DoD is going to have a DISA-provided device, Paul Brubaker, the Pentagon’s director of planning and performance management, said at an information technology conference this month. But they’re going to have devices, Brubaker said, in response to questions about DISA accommodating DoD’s mobile workforce.

The Navy, for example, authorized SAIFE Technologies to test its Mobility Suite communications software on the Navy Special Communications Requirements Division’s RDT&E network. The suite includes an MDM capability, and the company is hopeful its product will be approved for use across the Navy.

Pickart said DoD is delaying providing new Apple and Android devices until the MDM and MAS capabilities are ready in January. “We will provision new devices as rapidly as possible starting in January 2014,” he said.

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