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GCN : April 2013
t might not be apparent yet, but the future development of rugged IT is likely to take its cue from the evolution of commercial mobile technologies. How could it not, when federal agencies, which heavily in uence the rugged IT market, are planning big investments in mobility? The Obama Administration, for example, is pinning much of the suc- cess of its two-year old Digital Gov- ernment Strategy on the proliferation of mobile IT throughout government. Likewise, the Defense Depart- ment expects mobile technologies to provide the next leap forward in operational effectiveness and bat- tle eld awareness. Building on its Mobile Device Strategy, published in May 2012, the DOD in Febru- ary released a Commercial Device Implementation plan that detailed how it expects to take the fullest advantage of mobile devices. "As today's DOD personnel increasingly rely on mobile technol- ogy as a key capability enabler for joint force combat operations," said Teri Takai, Defense Department chief information of cer, "the application of mobile technology into global operations, integration of secure and non-secure communications, and de- velopment of portable, cloud-enabled capability will dramatically increase the number of people able to collabo- rate and share information rapidly." To make this happen, the depart- ment will need to confront a number of potential stumbling blocks inter- nally, such as infrastructure mod- ernization and security. But defense agencies also will be looking for new developments in the rugged market. "If you look at the mix of rugged today in government, it is very heavily weighted to larger form factors such as notebooks and vehicle-mounted types of devices where ergonomics such as portability and battery life are not as critical," said David Krebs, an analyst with VDC Research. "[But] people also want to have the kind of information [those devices] provide at the point of action, and the missing link there is when they step away from the vehicle." Answers are being developed. The Army's refocused Nett War- rior program, for example, which originally would have provided dis- mounted soldiers with a 10-pound computer to provide situational awareness, is now testing solutions based on ruggedized smartphones. The Army could start elding these solutions as early as 2014. Panasonic, already a major sup- plier of rugged notebooks, is eye- ing mobile as a major opportunity. "We see the trend to mobile as absolutely positive for use, and as the next big thing," said Tim Collins, senior director, federal at Panasonic Solutions. "If you look at the desk- top computer versus the laptop, even if those were a clamshell and of the heavier variety, they provide a lot more exibility of use." The company's customers are already looking to mobile in their IT developments and are creating ap- plications that will be able to take advantage of mobile technologies, he said. And the mobile trend is showing up across the board, from the Defense Department to civilian agencies who want to provide their employees with better services, such as telework and communica- tions in the eld. "Consumer trends drive tech- nology adoption," Collins said. "Once that adoption has been established, then we will execute a rugged strategy around that." Sponsored Report RUGGED IT Mobility push reshapes agenda of rugged IT FULL REPORT ONLINE Go to GCN.com/2013RuggedIT 2. Fiscal uncertainties could blunt growth of rugged IT 3. COTS take new role in rugged arena 4. Solid state storage could grab rugged limelight 5. Rugged IT's "value proposition" lags user needs Other Rugged IT Report Articles