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Enterprise mobility for defense users

Oct. 15, 2013 - 03:45AM   |  
By JOE PORTALE   |   Comments
Joe Portale
Joe Portale ()
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What military commander hasn’t sat in a commercial airport, watched people using mobile devices for everything from checking the weather to responding to email to arming their home security system, and pondered with envy what warfighters could do with that kind of mobile data exchange capability?

The tremendous potential of enterprise mobility to assist warfighters in the execution of their missions is undeniable and readily recognized.

Providing access from mobile devices to real-time sensor data and video, collaboration with command-and-control centers, customized maps and intelligence data — all of these capabilities and much more could provide an order of magnitude improvement in situational awareness and increase the effectiveness of forces at all levels.

That’s why the Department of Defense has made enterprise mobility one of the armed forces’ top technology priorities. But the highly sensitive nature of defense enterprise information systems presents several challenges to building a flexible, easy-to-use solution, including:

■ Enabling an effective mobile user experience.

■ Providing a secure gateway to access enterprise applications.

■ Supporting a full range of mobile devices running all types of operating systems, including iOS, Android and Windows.

■ Preventing unauthorized access to enterprise data if a mobile device is lost or compromised.

■ Supporting the special needs of specific types of mobile users.

■ Developing a cost-effective, scalable solution to meet expanding needs.

Various pilot programs and discrete systems have provided partial solutions, but the Holy Grail of enterprise mobility for the military — a solution that addresses all of the aforementioned challenges — has remained elusive.

Lockheed Martin believes that a solution that captures the full potential of enterprise mobility in the defense community must include a robust mobile device manager (MDM) that protects individual devices, combined with a secure “container” within the devices that holds applications and data, preventing unauthorized access to the enterprise.

To create such a solution, we teamed with AirWatch, an enterprise mobility technology provider.

The Lockheed Martin/AirWatch solution resides on individual devices and manages the secure connection to the enterprise server using defense-grade encryption. It allows the user to access enterprise applications with a single sign-on, encrypts all data stored on the device, and enables the enterprise administrator to manage device users’ access to specific enterprise applications.

The device’s encryption certificate for server access can be revoked if the device is lost or stolen, and locally stored information is inaccessible without correctly entering a password.

Our MDM also manages the client devices that can access the enterprise, enforces password entry to the device, and immediately deletes the container application, user credentials, profile, and encrypted data from the device if it detects that the device’s operating system is compromised.

While providing an effective technical solution to secure enterprise mobility for defense users solves many of the primary challenges, another potential difficulty is the ability of mobile device users to manage the information to which they have access.

How can a warfighter using a mobile device in a fluid battlefield context be expected to sift through a sea of enterprise data and find relevant information?

One part of the answer is context-aware services and |analytics, which ensures that only data specifically relevant to the mission is pushed to the mobile device. The warfighter can also receive notifications and alerts to new enterprise data that has been |created.

Another part of the solution is called responsive design, which formats an enterprise application for viewing on a given mobile device. The container automatically renders legacy enterprise applications for the device with a familiar feel and functionality.

We’re currently engaged in an internal trial of the Lockheed Martin/AirWatch solution, allowing authorized users to access our enterprise IT infrastructure from their mobile devices.

Early results are extremely encouraging, with indications that the enterprise mobility age for defense users is beginning, and the winners will be the men and women who put their lives on the line for their country.

Joe Portale is the Chief Technologist, Mobility Solutions, at Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Services.

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