Budgeting for Mobile Computing

Agencies are confronting a new expense -- mobile management services.

Federal agencies are facing substantial outlays to manage mobile computing devices as they shift from a culture of PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets. But there is a silver lining. Agencies are likely to save money if they don’t have to maintain their own systems to secure and support employee mobile devices. And vendors offer discounts for volume purchases of their software and services.                    

Providers of mobile device management tools—including Atlanta-based AirWatch, MobileIron of Mountain View, Calif., and Zenprise of Redwood City, Calif.—charge between $3 and $4 per month for client software installed on an employee’s mobile phone or tablet. AirWatch is a supplier on the Veterans Affairs Department’s initial $4.4 million mobile contract awarded in October.

That monthly fee may seem like small change until it’s applied somewhere like the Defense Department, where planners are looking to move every active-duty and reserve organization to mobile computing. Defense’s workforce includes 1.4 million active-duty troops, 1.3 million National Guard and reserve personnel, and 800,000 civilian employees—that’s 3.5 million people.

If everyone in the department needed a mobile device—the Defense Information Systems Agency envisions widespread use—at $3 a month the Pentagon would face an annual tab of $126 million, and at $4 a month the cost would be $168 million a year for the necessary software. VA could end up with a bill between $10 million and $14 million annually to provide mobile support to its workforce of 300,000.

Providers offer perpetual client licenses for about $50 apiece, which in the case of Defense would result in a one-time cost of $75 million, and at VA, the tab would be $15 million. Mobile device management vendors sell both cloud-based services and in-house network support. 

Some companies, including AirWatch, do not charge annual maintenance fees for mobile services based in the cloud. But if an agency chooses to host the software itself annual maintenance and support fees could run about 20 percent of the contract cost. For Defense, annual support costs could range from $24 million to $32 million. Hardware and software charges to set up department servers average about $20,000, and about $30,000 for cloud-based service.

But large agencies shouldn’t expect to pay list prices for mobile client licenses, software and services, according to AirWatch chairman Alan Dabbiere and Chandra Sekar, director of vertical product marketing for Zenprise. They say large-scale deployments would net substantial discounts. 

The Pentagon could qualify for a 30 percent discount, based on volume, according to Bernie Skoch, a technology consultant and retired Air Force general who did a tour at DISA. While still a stiff bill, the department could make it up in savings generated from not having to develop its own systems, he says, such as expensive tactical command-and-control networks. Skoch says he has no doubt commercial smartphones and tablets will become a key part of tactical systems.

Warren Suss, president of Suss Consulting, says a Defensewide purchase of mobile management software will “not be cheap.” He says the smart approach would be to phase in tablets as the inventory of desktop PCs and laptops reach the end of their life cycle. The real savings, Suss and Skoch agree, would come from replacing tactical radios, which can cost $70,000 apiece. Commercial gear that costs $500 or less and requires a minimal monthly fee for client software can look like a bargain in comparison. 

Vendors say they offer sophisticated software for securely managing and controlling smartphones and tablets, coupled with a private app store for users. Access to these apps, in most cases, is governed by role-based permissions set in an enterprise’s active directory.

Ojas Rege, vice president of strategy for MobileIron, says the company’s system walls off the most sensitive apps from employees who are not authorized to use them, and even access to commercial apps is routed through its private app store. Zenprise mobile software allows users to access commercial app stores, but can detect and inhibit installation of apps forbidden by agency information technology managers.

AirWatch has built geolocation software into its mobility software, allowing IT managers to track where a mobile device is being used and to shut it down if it appears to have been stolen. The company also provides IT managers with what could be viewed as the nuclear deterrent of mobile computing—the ability to remotely and automatically wipe a smartphone or tablet of all data if an employee violates policies on commercial apps and security. This includes devices owned by employees. MobileIron and Zenprise offer similar features.

As agencies develop bring-your-own-device policies, Dabbiere says the Office of Management and Budget should offer guidance on who must pay for client software on personal devices—employees or their agencies. 

In January, the Health and Human Services Department released its mobile strategy, which expects employees to pay for mobility management software for their personally owned devices. 

Despite the substantial cost of mobility management software, DISA has made it clear it must adopt new guidelines for mobile wireless computing, based on a cohesive enterprisewide strategy. DISA officials say Defense must embrace mobility management tools to ensure military users don’t lag behind the private sector in secure mobile computing capability worldwide.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.