Two Key Steps to Mobility Success in Federal Government
In all, it's estimated that the federal government spends about $1.2 billion annually on about 1.5 million mobile devices and associated services, according to the most recent Office of Management and Budget estimate. The clarion call to create a more mobile federal workforce is growing louder, but the need to support agency missions — while adhering to security requirements and remaining within budgets — is paramount.
While the strategies to accomplish that are complex and will vary from agency to agency, they fit broadly into two categories:
As is the case in the private sector, agency IT organizations are recognizing the need for a more holistic approach to mobile device management. A comprehensive, organization-wide solution — known as Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) — provides structure for every aspect of the process, from device procurement and deployment to overall system management. The ultimate goal is increased organizational efficiency as well as cost savings.
One of the key components of a mobile device management program in the government setting is the ability to administer a BYOD or CYOD program. While BYOD accommodates existing employee behaviors, there are significant negatives in the federal environment, particularly security, given the challenges of securing a wide range of device types, operating systems and applications.
CYOD, in contrast, provides employees the choice among pre-approved devices. This strikes a happy medium beyond simply issuing agency-standard hardware, but also permits far superior control and security, as well as adherence to federal certifications and standards. The drawbacks include potentially higher costs — although the expenses of monitoring, maintenance and support can be mitigated by large-scale data plans.
Based on a 2013 survey by Ovum, nearly 60% of employees surveyed would welcome a CYOD strategy, while only 14% were strongly opposed to it. Given that level of receptiveness, it may make sense for government IT organizations with an existing BYOD program to transition to the CYOD model.
Step 2: Address data management.
An increase in mobile devices inevitably leads to expanded data needs and new stresses on storage, backup and recovery systems. Solutions to consider include:
Distributed backup architecture — Instead of capital-intensive centralized backup hardware, this process allocates backup data across an entire network. In essence, the network itself becomes the backup device, and the result is improved enterprise reliability.
Federated deduplication — This increases efficiency by allowing data to be moved from location to location over low-bandwidth, affordable links — lowering both the storage overhead and WAN bandwidth burdens. The advantages include flexibility, optimized backup processes, reduced network bandwidth cost and improved backup throughput.
Cloud storage and backup-as-a-service — Whereas traditional backup requires you to physically move backup media offsite, cloud backup requires no such intervention and allows instant access. Benefits include potentially unlimited data retention, ample agility and scalability, and lower capital costs.
While the federal move to mobility is still in its beginning stages in many respects, there are successful implementations and ways to leverage today's technologies. For instance, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission initiated a mobility strategy and program that helped cut spending on voice and data services by 50%. While this is just one example, the mobility trend continues to build — and the advantages will, too.
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