Mobility at VA is about governance, not devices


Federal agencies itching to adopt iPhones and iPads, may want to heed the advice of Stephen Warren, deputy chief information officer at the Veterans Affairs Department--a department now using iPads.

“It’s key to make sure that you don’t over-obsess on the device itself,” Warren said during an April 3 panel discussion at the FOSE conference in Washington, D.C. “Forget about the device. Forget about the toy, and think about the information and how you control the access of it, how you serve it up and how you use it.”

Successful mobile deployments depend on two things, said Warren. First, there has to be a business case for using the mobile device, showing it helps empoyees “deliver business, get out into the field, provide the service at the point where it’s needed,” he said. The other change is that IT must enables information to be accessed and utilized at the network level.

By making those two changes, VA can separate the information from whatever device is selected, he said. It can be authenticated appropriately and works within the controls VA has set. This strategy could also lead to a BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, strategy in 2 to 5 years, said Warren.

“As an IT organization or even as a business, we really don’t have any choice but to embrace it,” said Warren. “If I change my infrastructure and architecture in a way such that I serve up information in a secure way, and I fully embrace bring your own device, why isn’t that a win for everybody?”

If BYOD is the near-term goal, the trend may go one step further in time, said Rob Corcoran, manager of architecture and applied technology at the Federal Aviation Administration. In 5 to 7 years, “if we do our jobs well, IT will not build or manage much of anything as an individual shop,” he said.

“We will be going to as-a-service organizations that will be providing services that we need and the IT organization will be the liaise and the business interface that allows people to be able to be able to understand how to put those services together,” said Corcoran.

For more:
- listen to the panel discussion

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