Improve Mobility With Open Standards Software
Open standards-based communications interfaces enable third-party software applications to be integrated more easily with mobile platforms.
Corporations are making great investments in mobile solutions today so their help desk and IT personnel can effectively manage servers, desktops, laptops, applications, and networks. The help desk must be able to effectively troubleshoot, diagnose, and repair machines remotely, so it's crucial IT resources consistently function correctly and can be updated. Features such as asset hardware/software reporting, automated provisioning of updates, and interactive tools such as remote control are typical features for managing these resources.
Proprietary Software Makes Mobile Management Difficult
The advent of mobile devices such as Windows mobile smartphone and Pocket PC handhelds has added a new set of management requirements. While these devices enable mobile workers to remotely access e-mail and mission-critical applications such as CRM (customer relationship management), ERP (enterprise resource planning), and field service, their memory, computing horsepower, and battery life are constrained by their size. Plus, unlike desktops and servers, these devices often are remotely connected to the enterprise by a variety of wired and wireless connections with limited availability and bandwidth. The distributed nature of mobile computers, combined with their mission-critical use, makes it even more important to manage them properly.
In the past, software companies managed mobile devices with proprietary, stand-alone products. These products used client software on the mobile device designed to communicate only with a single, proprietary enterprise console and server. Often, the client software negatively impacted the mobile computer's performance by consuming memory, processor, and power resources. Moreover, because proprietary mobile software is often designed to support less advanced mobile device platforms, it often lacks sophisticated features such as live, interactive remote control.
Open Standards Improve Mobile Management
Today, rather than investing in stand-alone, proprietary mobile device management tools, leading companies are looking to leverage their investments in enterprise management products and to manage Windows mobile smartphones and Pocket PCs. While some enterprise management software providers have enhanced their products to support mobile computers with Windows operating systems, enterprise management requirements (e.g. security, scalability) are still largely unmet. The good news is that many enterprise management software providers have included open standards-based communications interfaces with their management consoles and servers (e.g. support for XML [extensible markup language], SOAP [simple object access protocol], Web services), enabling third-party software companies to integrate their value-added functionality directly into these products.
Executed correctly, a third-party on-device management agent can leverage the inherent enterprise security, scalability, and reliability of the enterprise management product. The on-device agent communicates with the enterprise management product server, database, and console through open standards-based communication protocols, so IT and help desk personnel can manage their entire enterprise — including remote Windows-based mobile devices — from a single monitor. In this approach, it is critical that the third-party on-device agent be optimized for operation across low bandwidth or congested network connections.
Management features enabled by a third-party on-device agent can include fully automated provisioning and installation of updates over any wired or wireless connection; live interactive access to remote devices including remote control; live access to on-device processes, the device registry, file system, network adapters, and other on-device functions; and detailed asset hardware/software health reporting directly into the enterprise management product's database.
Third-party on-device management agents can be effective for extending the value of existing enterprise resources for mobile device management, and it's no wonder that their use is continuing to grow and accelerate among corporations everywhere. Leading companies and government organizations have deployed these solutions to manage thousands, or even tens of thousands, of Windows mobile devices in their respective enterprises over the past year alone, resulting in increased ROI and productivity for field and help desk workers.
David Yeaple is a technical evangelist for Odyssey Software, Inc., a provider of mobile device management solutions for Windows mobile devices. Yeaple holds a Bachelor of Science and Electrical Engineering degree from Rochester Institute of Technology and an MBA from Oregon State University. He has been with Odyssey Software for more than seven years and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.