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Agriculture installs BYOD capabilities

Jan. 22, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
USDA is preparing the ground for BYOD. ()

The Agriculture Department is one step closer to supporting employees’ personal devices on its network.

The department recently installed software capabilities to manage more than 100,000 government-issued and eventually personal Apple, Android and Windows 8 devices across its 29 agencies. Technology firm DMI, which is providing the mobile device management solution, said thousands of those devices are being supported today.

“USDA is working at analyzing all facets of BYOD [bring-your-own-device] before it is approved,” said Kathleen Urbine, senior vice president of DMI’s Enterprise Solutions Group. “There are many underlying issues with BYOD and most of them are outside of the technical elements. Things like, but not limited to privacy, work hour expectations, [and] data and voice costs.”

DMI was awarded a task order under a five-year, $20 million Next Generation Mobility contract. In June, the Defense Information Systems Agency awarded DMI a separate $16 million contract to support the military’s Android and Apple devices. DISA’s solution will support up to 300,000 devices.

For now, Agriculture is focused on serving it’s internal user base, but the department is considering how it could offer mobile device management capabilities to other civilian agencies.

In its request for proposal, Agriculture said it “needs to build a solid foundation for executing a mobile strategy, combining device management, application delivery, and Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) concepts.” The goal: empower mobile users, while improving IT insight and cutting costs.

Agriculture’s solution includes an integrated MDM, Mobile Application Management and Enterprise App Store. The app store serves as a central store for work-related applications. “This is not a store where you will find Angry Birds, but you would find office productivity applications,” Urbine said.

Another feature, called the Enterprise Mobile Management Center, includes a web-based portal with self-service tools for employees to access support services. For example, they can locate or reset their device passcode without contacting the helpdesk. The center is also a collaboration hub for asking and sharing information with other users or administrators, Urbine said.

The solution enables administrators to enroll, secure, configure, monitor and manage mobile devices and apps.

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