Feds Want Single Mobile Management Platform - InformationWeek

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2/11/2013
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Feds Want Single Mobile Management Platform

To help accelerate federal adoption of smartphones, General Services Administration plans to offer a government-wide mobile management tools platform.

10 New Mobile Government Apps
10 New Mobile Government Apps
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The General Services Administration, which acts as a service provider for other federal government agencies, plans to set up a government-wide mobile application and device management platform, according to newly issued procurement documents.

The plans would follow through on one of the obligations of the White House's broader Digital Government Strategy, a year-old initiative to transform the way government works and delivers digital services to the public.

By fulfilling the White House goal of building a government-wide mobile management platform, the GSA also will start help accomplishing related Digital Government Strategy goals. Those include establishing government-wide mobile device and service contracts, developing government-wide mobile security baselines, and accelerating the government adoption of secure mobile technologies at a low cost via a bring-your-own-device model, among other ways.

[ See why Feds are pushing for baseline mobile security measures. Read GAO Urges Action On Mobile Device Security. ]

The procurement documents come at a time when many agencies are struggling to keep up with the pace of change in the mobile world. Many agencies are reconsidering their long-time reliance on the BlackBerry, which relies heavily on the proprietary BlackBerry Enterprise Server, a platform that until recent updates did not support other mobile operating systems. Agencies are looking toward bring-your-own- device strategies, deployment of Android and iOS devices, and construction of their own application stores. As a result, numerous other agencies already have begun the journey toward mobile device management platforms.

The GSA's managed mobility platform would include a host of requirements and desired capabilities, including biometrics and identity card support, multiple operating system support, monitoring tools, device provisioning, mobile app stores, security and compliance reporting, mobile app reporting and more.

Specifically, the GSA seeks a platform that: -- supports more than 10,000 mobile devices, -- supports encryption of both data at rest and data in transit, -- includes tools to remotely lock and wipe devices and enforce security policies, -- is certifiable at the "moderate" security level under the Federal Information Security Management Act, and -- controls the hardware of devices, among other requirements.

According to the procurement documents, the managed mobility system could consist of multiple tools, but would have to be mapped to existing government contract vehicles. Use of an existing contract vehicle could accelerate the deployment of the mobile management system because it means GSA and other agencies will not have to navigate the full and sometimes arduous government contracting process.

The procurement documents set out a number of use cases for the mobile management platform. In one, the platform heavily manages an agency-issued device. In another, the platform uses whitelisting, virtualization, automatic policy control and authentication to manage a personally-owned Android device as part of a bring-your-own-device policy. Others include managing lost or stolen devices, deploying new applications, blocking websites, and intervening to fix security problems.

Mobile applications are the new way to extend government information and services to on-the-go citizens and employees. Also in the new, all-digital Anytime, Anywhere issue of InformationWeek Government: A new initiative aims to shift the 17-member Intelligence Community from agency-specific IT silos to an enterprise environment of shared systems and services. (Free registration required.)

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