If you’re looking for a place that has to manage a lot of gadgets, look no further than the Pentagon. The U.S. Department of Defense's (DOD) Defense Information Systems Agency earlier this month launched a mobile device management procurement that will task the winning contractor with supporting as many as 262,500 devices. The Mobile Device Manager and Mobile Application Store (MDM-MAS) procurement marks “a step forward” towards the military’s long-term goal of fielding a comprehensive mobile solution, according to the DoD’s request for proposals (RFP).

The MDM-MAS procurement kick off follows the June publication of DoD’s mobile device management plan, which calls for a federated mobile device management service.

Here’s a quick overview of MDM-MAS’ particulars:

* The government plans to award a single contract that could span three years if all options are exercised.

* Small businesses will play a role on the winning contract. Contracts involving the massive scale DoD tend to go to large service providers. But bidders will be graded on the level of small business participation reflected in their proposals. Those proposals will be weighed according to “the complexity and variety of the work small firms are to perform and the extent of participation of such firms in terms of the value of the total acquisition,” the RFP stated.

* Proposals are due November 27 and the contract award is slated for April 2013.

Key Components

DoD seeks a unified mobile device management architecture that “secures, monitors, manages, and supports accredited mobile devices” across DoD environments, according to an RFP synopsis. The mobile device management solution is also to support over-the-air electronic software distribution of applications, remote data-wipe, and remote device configuration management, among other capabilities.

The Mobile Application Store component, meanwhile, will work in conjunction with the mobile device management system. DoD sees the store as delivering, updating, and deleting apps on mobile devices, relying on the mobile device management system for the “identification of new, removed, or changed mobile devices,” the RFP noted.

The RFP also calls for mobile application management. That capability will cover the administration and automated delivery of apps to mobile devices “in compliance with application policy restrictions,” according to DoD. The procurement lets the bidders determine whether they provide mobile application management via the mobile device management component, the application store, or an additional solution component.

On the security side, MDM-MAS includes requirements for data-at-rest encryption, data-in-transit encryption, and secure applications.

“Each of these capabilities could be accomplished by separate products which are then integrated into the complete MDM-MAS solution,” the RFP states.

Mobile OS Coverage

The RFP requires bidders to manage devices running iOS 5 and newer OS versions as well as Android 2.2 and newer versions. The subsequent versions are to be supported within three months of public release. DoD says it also wants bidders to offer the capability to manage Blackberry OS, Windows Mobile 6, Windows Phone 8, Windows 8 RT and newer Windows versions. The Blackberry and Windows support, however, isn’t an absolute requirement.

Impact

A mobile device management deal of the size DoD has proposed is bound to attract a lot of attention. The scope of the contract, which includes not just mobile device management but the app store piece, encryption technology requirements, and a training component, probably means that a systems integrator will take on the prime contractor role.

Potential bidders on the DoD procurement have another mobility initiative to track: the White House’s federal digital strategy, published in May, calls for the General Services Administration (GSA) to “set up a government-wide mobile device management platform.”

GSA’s website describes that particular objective as “in progress” with a due date of May 23, 2013.