Government agencies that would like to make the switch from blackberry devices to Iphone and Android not only have to worry about how to manage and certify them, but also which brand loyalty to sign on to.
Starting off with android, Google has made it clear that they have wanted to integrate with the government for a while with the Google for Government initiative. Google for government will most certainly help define internal applications market within agencies that give users a selection of applications that are FISMA certified. Applications are just part of the of the government solution, choosing a device manufacturer as well as a version of android are others. Part of the solution would have to be running Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) or Honeycomb which can support Full Disk Encryption. Data at rest has become a major issue with DoD and Federal IT spaces since in the event a device is lost or stolen, a control must be set in place to prevent any sensitive data from leaking out to the public. Since the Dell Streak device is approved by the DoD this would be the ideal hardware configuration to go along with the software configuration for government space. The only issue is that Dell Streak is not future proof and its hardware requirements are somewhat lacking for the average user. Processor power, memory, and battery life are all major concerns when choosing this device and may not make it a contender for the average government user. To sum up the android side of things, as long as the device can support Full disk encryption as well as having appropriate hardware (processor power, memory, and battery life) it would be a great contender for government use.
Since IOS4, Apple devices have been implementing FIPS Approved disk encryption, which would make integrating Apple devices into exiting government infrastructure quite a task. Also, DoD has provided Apple STIG’s to be used within the DoD, making it somewhat feasible for other potential agencies to piggyback off it. One of the main hurdles is ITunes itself for device synching. Sending and receiving files that are not music based would have to be done thru a cloud service. This is not something agencies are considering since Itunes is strictly for media transfer. There is no simple copy and paste like on other phones when connected to your computer. This may not necessarily be a bad thing as it would provide a mitigation factor for sensitive data leaving a government location. Another issue is that Apple would have to set up an internal government App Store so that agencies can begin creating apps as well as having to ensure that the app data is housed in a FISMA certified location. One thing Apple does have an advantage on is the general workforce’s willingness to adapt to a familiar technology. A transition to an Apple device would be a lot easier when it comes to Users (which a lot of the times, is half the battle) versus any other platform. Hardware wise, Apple is on par when it comes to processor power, memory and battery life by today’s standards but is not future proof.
With the current administration pushing for more agencies to develop internal applications that are optimized for the web, the easier the process, the more users will benefit. Deciding on a standardized platform will be a tough call, hopefully though the set of players will list off their benefits to create a simple yet effective environment.
Next up, Blackberry.. Where have you been?