Whether you are connecting to work, accessing your banking via mobile apps, utilizing electronic health records, or even in the hands of our warfighters, mobility is a top priority across industries. The Department of Defense (DoD) recently increased its focus on making the mobile warfighter a reality, giving them the same anytime, anywhere, any device capabilities many Federal agencies have started to deploy in their offices. In fact, recent news from DoD highlighted efforts to re-examine their lengthy approval process to review and approve mobile apps and devices in 30 days, showing strides towards making these capabilities readily available in the Federal arena.

We are also seeing DoD implement pilot programs in an effort to expand mobility to our frontlines. With this new muscle behind the defense mobility effort, it is important to consider the challenges and necessary security provisions as well as the potential the future mobile warfighter will bring.

With recent advances, security measures, and pilot programs taking shape, we can focus on the potential a mobile warfighter offers the defense sector. From cost savings, increased efficiency, and improved mission outcomes, the benefits can be significant. One such benefit is making training and manuals mobile, creating the opportunity for previously printed materials, timely presentations, and costly travel for trainers and trainees obsolete. We have seen glimpses of the potential in use with early programs that are securing mobile devices for field engineers, delivering secure, classified voice over internet protocol (VoIP) to warfighters on the move. And, the key to realizing the full potential of the mobile warfighter lays in DoD’s ability to deliver sensitive data and apps to these warfighters securely and seamlessly regardless of where they are or the device they have.

The focus on mobility in defense organizations began with the release of DoD’s mobile strategy in June 2012. This announcement initiated the process of addressing the challenges moving to mobile would bring defense organizations with warfighters on the frontlines. While many defense organizations are exploring some mobile device management (MDM) strategy, DoD recognizes the need for a comprehensive strategy that protects underlying applications and confidential data, regardless of device ownership, while enabling access to existing web- and Windows-based applications from any device. To address the broader challenges presented with mobile apps, data, and analytics many organizations are turning to enterprise mobility management (EMM) via solutions such as Citrix XenMobile. This first end-to-end mobility solution enables IT teams in the command post to manage and secure devices, apps, and data. EMM strategies also enable access and control policies, scenario-based access controls, and advanced analytics for device audits among several other provisions.

Additionally, the robust authentication requirements for defense organizations via common access cards (CAC) or personal identity verification (PIV) are fundamental to mobile initiatives and bring-your-own-device advances for the defense sector. It is imperative that warfighters are armed with the solutions they need to keep highly sensitive data, information, and communications secure in some of the most risky and unpredictable situations. Recently, Citrix further extended its support of warfighter mobility by delivering the first-to-market CAC and PIV authentication capabilities for Android devices via Citrix Receiver. This solution enables warfighters to securely access applications and virtual desktops, leaving no resident data on the device to potentially compromise information.

For the warfighter, the benefits of modernizing systems, protocol, and current devices to enable mobility anytime, anywhere far outweigh the challenges we are working to overcome. With further developments, implementations, and pilot programs in place, it is only a matter of time before the mobile warfighter becomes a reality on the frontlines.

Photo Credit: North Dakota National Guard