USDA expects to manage 100,000 mobile devices

Expecting the use of on-the-job mobile devices to explode in the coming years, the Agriculture Department has put out a call for an end-to-end mobility solution.

The Next Generation Mobility solicitation requests a three-part solution that manages goverment-furnished and employee-owned mobile devices as well as an app store for both in-house and commercially developed tools. Further, USDA requires a container solution that secures government data on mobile devices, keeping it isolated from personal data.

Recognizing that mobile technology is constantly changing, USDA is looking for a solution that will help it manage a growing field of employee-owned industry supplied mobile devices. The department wants to build a solid foundation for empowering its mobile users while "improving IT insight, gaining control and cutting costs," the department says.

According to the solicitation documents, USDA expects to support over 100,000 devices in the next few years, running BlackBerry, iOS, Android and Windows 8 operating systems. Currently, USDA supports 3,600 mobile devices (phones and tablets) running iOS, Android 2.2+ and some Windows OSes via McAfee’s Enterprise Mobility Manager.

Additionally, USDA requires that the system must be securely integrated with its existing network architecture, Active Directory structures and Office365 solutions. In September 2011, the USDA completed a migration of 120,000 employees to Office 365, offering them e-mail and collaboration services in a secure cloud infrastructure.

For the cloud-based portion of the Next Generation Mobility system, the department does not necessarily require that the hardware and software components run completely within USDA data centers and network. It will also consider a cloud solution, where the components would run in the vendor's cloud data center or a hybrid solution, where assets are distributed across USDA data centers and the offeror’s cloud data center. 

Regardless of the proposed cloud solution, USDA intends to perform "all device, app store and container management via the provided console. This includes performing the day to day administrative functions associated with administering mobile devices (enrollment, setting policies, wiping devices, etc.), applications and container services," according to the statement of work.

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