Is VA MDM much ado about nothing?

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The Veterans Affairs Department has finally awarded its mobile device management contract--a departmentwide platform that will eventually scale to support 100,000 mobile devices.

The department has been talking about the MDM solution for more than a year, describing it as the lynchpin upon which so many other VA mobility efforts rely.

In September 2011, VA launched a pilot of 1,000 iOS devices--but not without a small-scale MDM to keep tabs on the technology. And in January, VA Chief Information Officer Roger Baker said no more iPads and iPhones would be piloted at the department until a larger-scale MDM was in place.

But the lack of an MDM solution hasn't just stifled iOS device usage at the agency for more than a year, it's stalled efforts to implement a bring-your-own-device, or BYOD, strategy.

"When we have the full MDM in place then we will have the capacity to start allowing people to potentially use their own devices," said Baker in June.

Now that the contract has been awarded there's no telling when the solution will be implemented, let alone when related iOS and BYOD policies will take effect.

But on the eve of the MDM contract award Baker revealed some information that had some wondering whether their high expectations for mobility efforts following the MDM award were for naught. Baker said implementing BYOD and acquiring iOS devices isn't his job at all. Rather, the CIO is responsible for setting up a policy framework that enables those decisions by the business units and human resources.

"Our major role as far as IT is concerned is specifying and enforcing the information security for the device and the apps that go on the device," he said. Others at the department will make the call on whether or not to go with employees' personal devices or government-provisioned devices, Baker added.

As a result, it's likely iOS deployment and BYOD could be dispersed and piecemeal instead of the revolutionary change many were expecting given the buildup. - Molly