By Victor Akinnagbe, Microsoft Chief DoD Architect, and Jason Opdycke, Microsoft Air Force Architect
Back in June, the Defense Department unveiled its Mobile Device Strategy, designed to maximize the productivity and flexibility benefits of mobile devices, wireless infrastructure and mobile applications. The strategy acknowledges a new reality across DoD – that the use of commercial mobile technologies - like Android Phones, Windows Phones, iPads and other tablets - are rapidly gaining momentum.
The days of everyone using the same work-issued device are over. There are currently more than 250,000 commercial mobile devices being used within the DoD, running on various operating systems and leveraging a variety of different applications. The traditional model of developing custom hardware and software applications for every mission need is expensive and inefficient, which is why the DoD has smartly embraced the consumerization of IT. Defense Chief Information Officer Teri Takai said it best: “This strategy is not simply about embracing the newest technology – it is about keeping the DoD workforce relevant in an era when information and cyberspace play a critical role in mission success.”
The biggest challenge will be managing this exploding ecosystem of new devices in a way that ensures security and interoperability different technologies, which is why the strategy calls for a “federated mobile device management service to ensure security, maintain compliance and support device synchronization.” To accomplish this, DoD organizations must move from a device-centric to a user-centric approach to mobile management. The focus can’t be on the device because of the variety and rapid turnover of the technology being used by the military’s workforce. The issue needs to be addressed at the enterprise level, using modern unified management, security and access controls.
The good news is that available technologies can help DoD organizations achieve these goals through simplified IT administration. For example, Microsoft System Center puts the focus of mobile management back on the user, enabling device configuration and application access based on a user’s identity – without the need for administrator setup. Devices that run Windows 7 come equipped with much needed enterprise encryption, data recovery, authentication, access control, and antimalware protection solutions. And now DoD IT leaders can even manage their mobile fleet from the cloud with tools like Windows InTune.
Emerging technology is making it easier than ever for DoD organizations to securely manage the consumer device explosion while meeting compliance mandates. For more information on the latest tactics in enterprise mobility management, check out this great paper on flexible work styles.