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FCW : November 15, 2012
Speaker: Owen Unangst, Associate CIO, Agriculture Department Without a doubt, the rapid adoption of mobile technology in the federal government largely began as a grassroots phenomenon. But once mobility becomes an enterprise initiative, it requires a whole new management discipline. That was the case at the Agriculture Department. About two years ago, a number of USDA agencies approached the CIO s office about the prospects of deploying mobile solutions, said Associate CIO Owen Unangst. It didn t take long before they realized that they needed to take a step back and map out a plan for rolling out these initiatives. The result was a "mobility ecosystem," a seven-layered architecture that identifies the management structure needed to support a wide range of mobility solutions (see sidebar). At the heart of the architecture is the "Integrated Workplace," the set of applications and tools that enable employees to do their jobs, wherever they might be working. The two top layers, provide the management of the data and applications, while the bottom two layers ensure the security and performance of the underlying infrastructure. This basic management structure is supported by two additional layers: Support services and mobile device management. MDM, of course, is central to any enterprise mobile initiative, but as USDA s approach makes clear, it s not the whole picture. "What we should be thinking about is all seven of these dimensions," Unangst said. "We shouldn t be just moving ahead and finishing one and not recognizing that this truly is an ecosystem." The CIO office did not build this architecture in the vacuum. Instead, they began the process by looking at the business requirements that were driving in the interest in mobility. Those conversations helped expand the visions of the USDA offices who first asked for the technology. "As we started doing this two years ago, we didn t realize it but we became change agents in the whole process," said Unangst. For example, one USDA office was looking to provide mobile solutions to conservationists who work with farmers. In the case of one service that office provides, a conservationist must make five trips to a farm, with the farmer making three trips to a USDA office. Clearly, a conservationist making so many trips to the field was a good candidate for mobile technology. But were so many trips really necessary? In reviewing the service, USDA s IT experts realized that with the mobile tools being developed today, the conservation could get the work done in just three trips, while the farmer would not need to make any trips at all. "That was a phenomenal opportunity for improved delivery of government services," Unangst said. Their work with the business units also helped shape the architecture itself. Consider the role of support services. Clearly, mobile access to applications and data would be a boon for a customer service representative. But what happens if the device is not working or the applications are not available? Existing paper-driven processes might not be quick, but they are reliable, generally ensuring a positive customer service. As one agency executive told the CIO s office, "If you don t do the same thing with automation, you are leaving our customer reps hanging out there. Don t do that." In response, USDA has implemented an integrated, rapid response support service, with a systems network control center that is scanning performance data coming from multiple sources. Taking an enterprise approach to the mobile environment also helped USDA officials identify ways to simplify the management of that environment. One example is device security. In an agency as diverse as USDA, mobile technology is bound to be used in a lot of different ways. But the CIO team realized that there were three basic categories of uses: doing e-mail; accessing files and office automation; or running applications. Additionally, each device would be either government-furnished or employee-owned. So they came up with six basic user profiles. "You can actually build out a very logical set of security measures that cover those six areas," Unangst said. That s not to say six different security technologies. Instead they envision develop solutions based one or two suites of technology. SPONSORED CONTENT Managing the Mobile Enterprise: A Seven-Layered Approach USDA s Mobile Ecosystem Application Management Data Management Support Services Management Mobile Device Management Network Management Security Management Source: USDA Managing the Mobile Enterprise: A Seven-Layered Approach Successful mobility initiatives require a diverse array of supporting management functions SPONSORED BY: For more from CDW-G go to CDWG.com/mobility For more from VMware go to vmware.com
October 30, 2012
November 30, 2012