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US military welcomes Apple iOS 6 kit onto its networks

The battle with BlackBerry, Samsung marches into the cloud

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

The US Department of Defense has welcomed Apple's iDevices into its secure networks, and has announced that that it is "taking bold steps to provide sound information and proper analysis as it fortifies its cloud computing, acquisition and data processes."

On Friday, the DoD set the stage for a three-way smackdown among Apple, Samsung, and BlackBerry for some military love by approving the security technical implementation guide (STIG) for iOS 6 devices, thus allowing them to be used when connecting to DoD networks.

BlackBerry passed muster earlier this month, and Samsung's KNOX hardware-software security combo is expected to gain approval soon.

For Apple and Samsung, DoD approval is important to their bottom lines, but hardly critical. BlackBerry, on the other hand, is struggling to remain relevant in what was once an enormous market for it. BlackBerry can ill-afford the competition when attempting to sell the DoD on the advantages of its Z10 and Q10 handsets.

According to Reuters, the DoD currently has 470,000 BlackBerrys, 41,000 of Apple's mobile devices, and a mere 8,700 Android-based items in its arsenal. Those numbers, however, are relatively inconsequential, seeing as how the DoD plans to open its own mobile store and build its own system to handle as many as eight million devices.

There's a lot of purchasing to be going on, and with Apple and Samsung as its competitors, BlackBerry's sales team will have its work cut out for it.

In a separate but related announcement, Mark Krzysko, the DoD's deputy director for acquisition resource analysis and enterprise information – who may very well be referred to as ARAAEI in military-minded acronym-speak – said that the Pentagon is taking "bold steps" in its adoption of cloudy infrastructure.

"The technology, architecture framework and data management constructs the cloud can bring to us create 'app-like' thinking that [enables us to] move faster and forward more data sources out," Krzysko said, apparently using "forward" as a verb.

The challenges that the DoD faces is not unknown among the less-armed general public: not only figuring out how to get cloudy tech and data working together, but also accomplishing the move from desktop to mobile while ensuring security.

"It is pretty much a known ... intractable problem, so it gives us the opportunity to experiment ... [and] create an organization to manage data and delivery in support of the decision-makers," Krzysko said.

The Reg knows of three major manufacturers who would love to help in the mobile-device part of Krzsko's chore – but only one of them is an American company. It will be interesting to see whether the DoD's relationship with our close neighbor Canada or its active security partnership with South Korea play a political role in the upcoming business tussle among Apple, BlackBerry, and Samsung. ®

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