It's been nearly two years since the Defense Information Systems Agency awarded a $16 million mobile device management (MDM) contract to Digital Management Inc., the first wide-scale program to embrace mobility within the Defense Department. In the months since, DISA has worked to onboard users into the program while other defense organizations have pursued some mobility options of their own.

In many cases, it's been a process of trial and error — and many lessons learned along the way — to get smartphones and tablets into the hands of troops and civilian personnel. Today, under DISA management alone, some 83,000 users have BlackBerry devices, and the agency so far has 14,400 users from the Army, Air Force and other defense agencies in the MDM program using BlackBerry, iOS and Android devices.

"We're continuing to build our user base and the number of devices managed at the unclassified level. We're seeing a jump in users as the curve and processes [flatten]. It's not just about MDM; it's a mobile ecosystem for us and DoD," said Kimberly Rice, DISA DoD mobility program manager.

Unclassified DISA MDM users include DISA personnel; the Army; the Air Force's Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command, Air National Guard and Air Force Global Strike Command; the Defense Threat Reduction Agency; and some combatant commands.

By the end of the fiscal year, another 30,000 to 40,000 users are projected to be operating under the unclassified MDM program.

On the classified side, secret users are undergoing a limited deployment with a 2.0 release that "is significant because it does two things for the department: It gets a new secret device introduced, and it introduces MDM into the secret architecture," Rice said. "That's a big success story for us because we've stood it up [and] we're in production now. We have a few capabilities that need to get finalized, and we're targeting the end of May or beginning of June for full deployment on the secret side."

So far, the secret program has roughly 450 users under a pilot effort and the limited 2.0 deployment. Rice declined to give specifics, but said the users are leaders from across DoD and the federal government.

In both programs, though, the numbers of users and devices can be erratic. Leaders at various organizations are watching how successful other efforts are, while at the same time DISA juggles multiple, often competing, priorities.

Read the full report at C4ISR & Networks.