Firms combine mobile dev, code analysis for agency apps

Mobile dev, code analysis tool debuts for DOD, intell agencies

Mobility is still a technology that federal agencies are defining for themselves, with many still playing catch-up when it comes to developing and launching secure applications.

Two companies recently joined forces to help federal agencies meet the need to develop and release secure apps on schedule and within budget. Made available last week, the solution is a joint effort between IT firm CACI and mobile engagement company Appcelerator.

The Appcelerator combines in one tool the Appcelerator Platform’s ability to create native, cross-platform apps in JavaScript and CACI’s Code Analysis Tool (CAT4) to vet apps for unsafe code that could be exploited.

The customer benefits from having app analytics that can be traced to a customer’s investment, said Larry Littleton, CACI’s director of mobility solutions, who added that the tool provides the customers  with “a specific, metric-driven” return on investment.

The two companies are targeting Defense Department and intelligence organizations because CACI’s CAT4 code tool can show compliance with unique federal requirements such as the Defense Information Systems Agency’s Mobile Applications Security Resource Guide.

The apps can be customer-facing or mission-oriented to help reduce paperwork for government workers, said Jeff Haynie, Appcelerator’s co-founder and chief executive officer. To use the tool, an agency would either contract out app development or handle it in-house using the Appcelerator Platform.

CACI’s CAT4, which removes the manual code review process and can work without Appcelerator, can be used in two ways, Littleton said. First, it can serve as a tool for developers, enabling them to perform self-assessed checks during development.

Or, information assurance workers can use “CAT4 reports to review security risk findings as a part of an agency’s IA process,” he said. When CAT4’s analysis finds a problem, “it tells the developer down to the line number how to fix the code,” he added.

The Appcelerator Platform includes baseline analytics so that customers can get feedback during the development cycle and after an app is launched with real-time performance, usage and crash metrics. “You get life-cycle analytics from build all the way through deployment and production,” Haynie said, providing a complete view into how an app is performing.

This is the first time the firms are offering their capabilities together in one package. “CACI has many mobile app development engagements already using Appcelerator across our market areas,” Littleton said. “The partnership expands this relationship to include the insertion of CACI’s mobile app vetting tool CACI CAT4.”  

The move also reflects current market requirements, including getting apps into users’ hands quickly, Haynie said. “I think the whole industry, including the private sector, is shifting to much more of an on-demand, get quick ROI from your investments,” he said.

More collaboration between the two firms is likely, Littleton said. “Android OS, iOS (Apple) and HTML5 are being used as common operating platforms in the Internet of Things (IoT),” he said. “We are excited about the upside potential for the use of Appcelerator to develop and for CACI CAT4 to vet these IoT apps as well.” 

About the Author

Stephanie Kanowitz is a freelance writer based in northern Virginia.


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