DoD opens bidding for secure mobile device project

Tuesday - 10/23/2012, 12:07pm EDT

The Defense Information Systems Agency on Monday issued the latest in a string of recent contract announcements aimed at bringing a new generation of mobile devices into the Defense Department.

The request for proposals ask industry to build or bring a solution that would integrate the secure management of mobile devices together with an internal DoD app store.

DISA officials want the mobile framework to support at least 162,500 devices and scale up to 262,500 by the end of the up to three-year contract, though the agency is open to idea of eventually expanding the mobile device manager to provide service to the entire Defense Department. The agency did not disclose an estimated budget for the contract.

The winning vendor would have to support at least Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems; support for BlackBerry and Windows mobile devices is a plus, but not required, DoD officials wrote in the RFP. The contractor would also be responsible for making sure the mobility platform complies with security requirements such as FIPS 140-2-compliant encryption of data, both on the devices and in transit across networks.

DISA views the MDM contract, set to begin in April of 2013, as a shorter-term solution on a pathway to eventually supporting and managing up to eight million mobile devices under a single DoD-wide enterprise umbrella. DISA officials have previously described a phased approach to an enterpisewide mobile solution in DoD, with new capabilities coming online roughly every 120 days. For the interim project, DISA won't require full compliance with the department's mobility reference architecture.

"The DoD has both long-term and short-term mobility solution requirements. Because the current market landscape is still maturing from a security and architecture perspective, the critical requirements provided for this MDM-MAS acquisition are short-term and are limited in scope to provide the government the flexibility to adjust with evolving solutions," officials wrote in the solicitation. "The current (performance of work statement) is shaped to reflect the capabilities currently available in the marketplace. The overall objective of this effort is to provide mobile capabilities that move the DoD towards implementation of its long term mobility vision."

The MDM and app store solicitation is the latest in a flurry of activity DISA has previously promised would appear at a "fast and furious" pace in the broader effort to move DoD beyond BlackBerrys, the only devices that are widely supported in the department today because of security challenges with iOS and Android.

Earlier this month, DISA spent just shy of a million dollars to buy iPhones and iPads as part of its mobility tests. In a separate solicitation, it asked industry for ideas that would let DoD users authenticate themselves on DoD networks using their common access cards via mobile devices. And the agency expects to issue a request for information within the coming days in hopes of building a gateway that would let DoD's mobility infrastructure securely interface with the networks of commercial wireless carriers.

RELATED STORIES:

DISA puts mobility project into its next phase

Secure app store, more mobile devices coming to DoD