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DOD Releases Mobile Device Strategy

June 17, 2012
By Robert K. Ackerman, SIGNAL Online Exclusive
E-mail About the Author

The new plan lists goals and objectives for exploiting commercial technologies.

Advanced 4G mobile service, the use of personal mobile devices and its own dedicated apps are among the objectives of Version 2.0 of the U.S. Defense Department’s Mobile Device Strategy. Released Friday, June 15, 2012, the strategy lists three major goals and several subset objectives designed to bring the benefits of mobile systems to the department.

The strategy notes that the department must consider the type of user and the nature of the function in implementing mobile devices. It identifies three broad user categories: enterprise-wide, executive and tactical support. The tactical support category provides the biggest challenge to implementation, as it has the greatest varieties in uses, security levels and user environments. The enterprise-wide category does have the broadest range of user types.

As listed, the three goals are: advance and evolve the Defense Department information enterprise infrastructure to support mobile devices; institute mobile device policies and standards; and promote the development and use of Defense Department mobile and Web-enabled applications. Each goal features at least three objectives that provide clues to the strategy’s direction.

For the first goal, one of the objectives is to expand the department’s wireless infrastructure. This effort will rely heavily on commercial technologies and standards, including LTE-based 4G cellular infrastructures. Persistent virtual private network technologies will be key to continuous connectivity.

Another first goal objective is to evolve spectrum management. This entails a dual-thrust approach of developing new business processes while pursuing research with academia into new technologies that would improve spectrum use efficiency.

For the second goal, the Defense Department will develop a mobile device policy with standards that allow for necessary security and access features required for military operations. This is part of an effort to establish some degree of coordination and control over the use of mobile systems. The department also will define “acceptable uses of personally owned mobile devices” and personal use of department-owned devices.

Concurrent with these developments will be the establishment of a mobile device management service. This group will provide policy enforcement, enterprise license management, software distribution control and general wireless network oversight, including operation and maintenance.

The third goal focuses largely on adapting the mobile communications revolution to suit defense users, and the strategy cites the potential promise of Defense Department mobile apps. These in-house apps would be less expensive, more appropriate to military functions and faster to the user.

Foremost among the objectives for achieving this goal is the establishment of a common mobile app development framework. This would comprise developer tools, documentation and automated processes to build and test mobile apps. A key element of apps emerging from this framework would be interoperability across operating systems. The framework also would evolve concurrently with commercial advances.

Other related objectives include establishing a mobile app certification process similar to that for standard software applications used on networks. This process must be streamlined to take advantage of mobile apps quickly. Also, the strategy calls for an enterprise mobile app environment, which would include lifecycle management.

Ultimately, future Defense Department information technology capabilities would be “architected with mobility in mind.” This would reduce or even eliminate retrofitting costs, as developers and service providers would Web-enable their products for use on mobile devices.

A public version of the strategy can be downloaded at http://www.defense.gov/news/dodmobilitystrategy.pdf.