80,000 BlackBerry Devices Drafted In By The Pentagon

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US Department of Defence relies on Blackberry devices for a revamped mobile working programme

The Pentagon has announced that it is bringing in 80,000 BlackBerry devices for its employees as part of a $16 million plan to transition to a more mobile working environment.

From 31 January, workers at the Pentagon will be implementing the next phase of the ‘DOD (Department of Defence) Mobility Implementation Plan’, as part of a move away from traditional workstation computers, allowing them to access data securely via mobile devices.

The bulk of the new mobile capability will be made up of old and new BlackBerry devices, 80,000 of which are being used in the process. It will also include 1,800 Android and iOS devices already owned by the Department, including iPads, iPhone 4S and 5, Samsung 10.1 tablets, and Motorola RAZR devices.

Blackberry-10-RIM1Updating defences

The programme currently supports 16 mobile applications, and is in the process of approving 90 more for use by employees. By the end of January, users will have access to the app store, support for encryption keys, and several other services, including Defense Connect Online, which allows secure access to work files. The Pentagon ultimately hopes to have as many as 300,000 workers using secure devices.

“The new year will bring new mobile capabilities to as many as 100,000 DoD users,” Pentagon officials said in a statement. “DoD will begin deploying version 1.0 of the unclassified mobility capability Jan. 31 and will build out capacity to support up to 100,000 users by the end of the fiscal year.”

The release on 31 January kicks off a 90-day spiral approach to deploying new capabilities, with the next major release coming in second quarter of FY14. This promises to add gateway support to devices on the unclassified side and also an office capability package to enable editing of Word documents and other Microsoft Office items.

Following a period of strife for the manufacturer, in which it has seen major executive overhaul, BlackBerry recently announced it would be looking to target the enterprise market rather than consumers. The company cancelled its ‘Live’ annual conference, due to be held early this year, as part of a refocusing strategy which came after it announced losses of $4.4 billion (£2.7bn) during the third quarter of its fiscal 2014.

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Author: Mike Moore
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