We have some great events lined up. On July 31, we have our Citrix Federal Users Group focusing on mobility. I also get a unique privilege to serve as a panelist this week on Transformative Technologies for the Warfighter: Moving Ahead with Mobility. I’m excited to share not only what we’ve learned as a greater company involved in cloud and mobile computing, but also as a representative of the US Public Sector group that has the opportunity to talk with folks all around the DoD. I owe a great debt to the folks of the United States Armed Forces for their gift of vigilance every day, and we owe it to the warfighter to provide them the most modern technology to make them effective in their daily duties of protecting our lives from those who would have it.

The average age of the enlisted warfighter is 29, and 43% are below the age of 26 years old1.  The enlisted that are currently signing up as recruits right now have never known a world without the Internet. Many of them own a smartphone on their own, and I’d wager that a good number of them own iPads and Android tablets. This is NOT a cutting edge technology for them, but the way that we could use it in their lives as a warfighter may be. If a mobile device gives a warfighter a tactical advantage, then by all means, we should be doing everything we can to support those devices.

Kevin MitnickWe cannot forsake security from the conversation. I had the pleasure of speaking at an event with Kevin Mitnick, the acclaimed hacker who was said to be able to pick up a phone and launch nuclear weapons at will. The majority of his hacks were entirely based on social engineering. There were only a few that were actual cracks or exploits, but even then required a good bit of social engineering to make fully effective. Are mobile devices a new attack vector and targets to hackers, social engineers and non friendly foreign entities? Absolutely. Do we need to be utterly concerned with security at the expense of usability? Absolutely not, but we have to have a balance of security, and still be acceptable to actually WANT to use the device. That is one of the reasons that security AND flexibility are so important as we move forward with mobile technologies for the Warfighter. Rest assured that Mobile Device Management (MDM) by itself is not a mobile strategy. The idea that mobile devices and sensitive data are counter intuitive is being challenged, but just because the technology can protect the data does not guarantee its safety. Snowden and Manning didn’t defeat Suite-B cryptography, nor did they transport data to and from a mobile device. The idea that the next WikiLeak posting will be data that was accessed from a mobile device is no more threatening than data being leaked from a laptop. People will find a way to exploit the technology no matter what, and no matter how much money is thrown at it and security technologies. What we really need to do is make sure that mobile technology does not create any NEW threats while still making it easier to access information on any device.

That’s why a balanced approach that involves Mobile Device Management and Mobile Application Management, plus remote and local access to data and applications is a sensible approach to enable us to provide the current and next generation of warfighters with technology that they grew up on and understand well. Geofencing is hardly a security strategy and remote wipe does not guarantee the chain of custody of data, so a mix of MDM, MAM, and remote access is the only way to really guarantee that the data needs to stay within proper boundaries.

These types of mobility conversations happen in all segments of the DoD, Civilian and State/Local governments as well. Mobility doesn’t just affect the warfighters, the larger business side of the house is very concerned with mobility as it relates to executive mobility, telework and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). When we get into those conversations the most salient point to remember is why we love mobile devices in the first place: It makes us feel good to use them. We enjoy the un-tethered freedom, the power in the palm of our hands, the liberating choices of applications, and the way we interact with those devices. This is a far cry from the mandated set of apps and devices that enterprises distribute to users. For a mobile or BYOD strategy to be beneficial to the bottom line, enterprises must remain true to the idea that mobile devices empower the user to be more productive.

On July 31, we’re diving deep on mobility with the help of the Citrix Federal User’s Group, which is being hosted by us in our Citrix office in Bethesda. We’ll be diving into the topics of:

  • Citrix federal customer “Day in the Life” presentation
  • XenMobile solutions update
  • Mobility breakout lab- Vendor presentation and demo
Please come and join other Federal Citrix focused users and administrators on the discussion about mobility. This is a chance to discuss with other federal organizations on how mobility is affecting the enterprise, and how they can create structural change in the enterprise to empower the users.  You can register for it here: http://bit.ly/11r0Rai
We hope to see you at either event, and would love to hear perspectives on mobility within the government.

1 According to the USAF APC – http://www.afpc.af.mil/library/airforcepersonneldemographics.asp