Enterprise Mobility & Connected Devices Blog

BYOD in the Government Sector - the USDA's Large MDM-Oriented RFP

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently issued a multi-million dollar RFP for a variety of integrated MDM-oriented mobile solutions. As stated in their RFP and PWS, the Agency plans to award its next-generation and enterprise-grade mobility contract to a single vendor via a blanket purchase agreement (vendors may propose a proprietary solution or one built through partnerships with other providers). The document makes it clear that the agency recognizes that its workforce is being impacted by BYOD:

"new boundaries are being established within USDA that support the mobilization of our workforce and that blur the lines between personal computing and corporate resources."

Several key and core mobility management components are desired  specifically a solution that tightly integrates:

  • MDM (the agency expects to grow its current footprint of mobile devices from 3,000 to 100,000 in "the next few years")
  • MAM (the agency has specified that it requires a solution that can accommodate the deployment of both in-house and commercially developed applications).
  • Secure Container (the agency seeks a solution that allows Government data to be securely isolated from personal data while being managed from the MDM solution it decides on).

While the Agency expects its workforce to be relatively stable in the coming years, it expects mobile devices to play an increasingly important role in the future. It expects BYOD to account for the lion share of the device growth within its workforce in the coming years  however, government furnished equipment (GFE) will also increase. The Agency's RFP reveals the device diversity (3,600 mobile devices are currently being managed, consisting of: iOS, Android 2.2+ and Windows Phone 7) that it must contend with, and also makes it clear that it recognizes the importance of preserving the user experience:

"everything must appear “seamless” to end-users while delivering significant business value in a secure manner."

According to the solicitation documents, organizational experience with the USDA and its primary service provider (International Technology Service or ITS) is preferable — the RFP appears to be open to all federal business opportunity vendors. While the experience requirement could potentially eliminate many smaller vendors, the reality is that there are a limited number of vendors whose solution range spans MDM/MAM/Secure Container that can claim the "tight integration" capabilities that the Agency demands. The fact that the USDA recognizes that participating vendors can propose a proprietary solution or one built through partnerships is notable, and speaks to the Agency's recognition of the state of our mobile ecosystem.

The RFP also reveals that McAfee is the incumbent MDM vendor putting them in an advantageous position for the contract (the company also has recently enhanced its MAM capabilities). However, there are other MDM vendors of note who possess the key criteria that the USDA is looking for (AirWatch, SAP, and MobileIron) as well as others (e.g., Boxtone and Zenprise) who are well positioned to partner due to their ability to tightly integrate with best-in-class MAM vendors such as Apperian and AppCentral, and secure container vendors such Good Technology and Bitzer Mobile.

There is certain to be aggressive per device pricing proposed from the vendors vying for this business — we'll be keeping an eye on this large contract, and will continue to blog about it as details emerge. VDC will also will be publishing a comprehensive MDM Report later this month.

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