Army seeks mobile management systems to run its wireless network

The Army has asked for input from commercial vendors about how to administer and manage its nascent mobile network.

The consumerization of technology is not a only civilian trend. The military is also grappling with how to manage the impact of the mobile and smart-phone revolution on its rank and file. 

But successfully equipping all or most of the Army’s soldiers with commercial mobile devices is only half the battle for the service and the Defense Department. 

The Army will first have to put an architecture in place to manage all of this gear — everything from tracking their locations to administering security and updating services and applications. 

The Army is reaching out to private industry to help meet that challenge. In a recently released request for information, the Army asked for input from industry about the current state of the mobile device management market. MDM systems would provide an administrative architecture for tracking and monitoring mobile devices and ensuring security compliance for end-point devices. 

The service is interested in validating current MDM features to see if they meet DOD requirements, including: 

  • Software distribution — The ability to manage and support mobile application use including deployment, installation, updates, deletion or blocking. 
  • Policy management — Development, control and operations of DOD enterprise mobile access, connectivity and security policy. 
  • Inventory management — Software, firmware, hardware, and peripheral device inventory management including provisioning and support. 
  • Security management — Enforcing DOD-level device security, authentication, validation and encryption functionality. 

These steps will be important as the Army builds up an infrastructure to manage its wireless devices, said Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, an IT consulting firm specializing in the federal market. 

“You’re moving into the same challenges that a [commercial] carrier has when they manage a large number of users in a wireless service,” he said. 

In fact, many of DOD’s requirements for security, interoperability and robustness are very similar to those of large corporations, Suss said. 

The military's ongoing development and use of wireless systems might not only save the government money but also create new features and functions that would interest the commercial sector, Suss said. 

“The DOD has a natural interest in not just getting these devices for itself but in stimulating the marketplace for ‘heavy duty’ wireless capabilities,” he said.

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