Feb 12 2014

A Look at NASA’s Innovative, Secure Mobility Strategy

Federal IT managers focus on managing mobile apps and data.

Early on, the team at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., took an innovative approach to mobility management.

Rather than taking the common path of deploying a mobile device management tool and adding a mobile application management platform later, NASA focused on securing its enterprise mobile applications and the agency’s data utilized by those apps.

Jane Maples, manager of the Center for Internal Mobile Applications (CIMA) in Huntsville, says her group built apps@NASA, the agency’s enterprise app store. CIMA also developed Pulse, a tool that lets systems administrators monitor the usage of the mobile apps and administer the data access for those applications.


The percentage of IT managers surveyed who say that their organizations are developing mobile applications for the enterprise

SOURCE: “The Enterprise Mobility Guide for IT Management and CIOs” (iPass/MobileIron, February 2013)

Apps@NASA hosts the enterprise applications for distribution to NASA employees and contractors. DevCenter, another tool that CIMA developed, provides NASA programmers with  access to reusable code modules, sample apps and templates that the developers can use to build applications.

“We started with mobility in 2009, and at the time, the MDM/MAM products were just getting started,” Maples explains. “Now that the market has matured some, we’re considering a commercial MDM/MAM tool, but we don’t want to lose what we’ve developed.”

John Jackson, research vice president for IDC, says NASA’s focus on applications is wise. “IT managers now understand that they need to manage applications in a granular way and through the lifecycle of the application,” he says.

“It’s no longer sufficient to just provision a mobile app and let it out. The app has to be updated, maintained, secured and then disposed of at the end of its lifecycle,” he says, adding that most commercial tools now offer those features.

The Energy Department Leverages Mobility to Go Green

The Energy Department’s Energy IT Services offers a vast range of mobile apps that streamline workflow to create efficiencies and also foster a greener environment, says Associate CIO Virginia Arreguin.

Arreguin says mobile apps currently aid in employee telework and help connect the workforce via standard technology tools, such as video and voice conferences, instant messaging, shared workspace and social media.

The Energy Department’s main IT organization doesn’t use an MDM/MAM tool, but will leverage best practices from the National Laboratories, including the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which uses XenMobile from Citrix Systems.

Arreguin adds that mobility is key to enabling the Energy Department’s mission and truly allowing the staff to get the data they need in a secure manner, at any time.


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