Pentagon To Move Its Network To Apple, Android Devices
February 27, 2013

Pentagon To Move Its Network To Apple, Android Devices

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Even amongst their slow and glorious decline, BlackBerry devices have long dominated the market in the government sector. But now, devices that were once viewed as consumer-only products, have steadily been making headway into the faltering company's old turf.

One branch of the government, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), has already pulled away from BlackBerry, switching their agency networks over to the powerhouses that be Android and Apple.

According to a Department of Defense (DoD), things are going to get crowded at the Pentagon as they begin to allow Android and Apple devices to access the network. Next February, agents with the DoD will be able to use iPhone or Android device to access secure classified and protected unclassified networks. The Department announced the move yesterday (Feb. 26), saying it will follow up on a Mobile Strategy proposed last June.

To implement this plan, the DOD will also be boosting the security of their wireless networks as well as developing specialty apps for DoD use only. According to Teresa M. Takai, Defense Department chief information officer, this change is an effort to remain technologically relevant and give agents the power to do more in more places.

“The Department of Defense is taking a leadership role in leveraging mobile device technology by ensuring its workforce is empowered with mobile devices,” said Takai.

“As today´s DoD personnel increasingly rely on mobile technology as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations, the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and development of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collaborate and share information rapidly,” she added.

The DoD isn´t planning to kick BlackBerry out completely, however.

According to Bloomberg, the Pentagon uses more than 600,000 mobile devices, 470,000 of which are QWERTY-bearing BlackBerrys. Another 41,000 of these belong to Apple and 8,700 run Google´s Android operating system. Though these mobile devices are used within the Pentagon, they´re currently only able to access non-classified documents and emails. This will change next February.

The Pentagon will now begin rolling out a new mobile architecture to allow mobile access to their most secured networks. To roll out this network, the DoD says they´ll run a “series of operational pilots” which will “incorporate lessons learned, ensure interoperability, refine technical requirements, influence commercial standards, and create operational efficiencies for DoD mobile users.”

Government sectors have not been immune to the Bring Your Own Device movement which has dramatically affected the way the corporate world operates. Apple devices in particular have become increasingly popular for government agents.

One company is preparing for an Apple-heavy government by “neutering” iPads so they can be securely used by the American government. CACI International Inc., neuters these iPads by altering their hardware rather than securing the software.

Though BlackBerry (formerly known as RIM) has been touting their new, more secured operating system, it seems the government grew tired of waiting for BB10 and will open the door to Android and Apple devices. If the past has taught us anything, it´s safe to assume that governmental workers will also prefer these devices over BlackBerry.