• United States
Neal Weinberg
Contributing writer, Foundry

Mobile Automation

Feb 20, 20033 mins
Network Security

* Mobile Automation's Mobile Lifecycle Management

When it comes to tools for managing mobile devices, Mobile Automation’s Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite should be on your short list.

It includes a “task package” that lets you distribute a series of commands in a package to individual workstations. We liked that the product ships with several sample tasks, including one that backs up the configuration files from a workstation along with the registry to a named file on the server. It uses variables to build a name for the back-up file based on the workstation name and current date. Tasks can be scheduled to happen at any time for the configuration back-up task.

Mobile Automation’s Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite supports Windows CE devices, Palm OS PDAs, BlackBerry devices and some of the smart phones. One twist on its product comes from the help desk support angle. The strategy is to make the majority of these functions client-initiated. This helps get around a variety of issues such as dial-up links, firewalls, network address translation and the like. At the device level the software can even do an inventory of BlackBerry devices to record model and serial number. The database also tracks ownership of devices to help you keep track of who has what.

Mobile Automation’s Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite was perfect in detecting Internet Explorer versions and service packs. It also knew how to check for OS Hot Fixes and specific patches (Microsoft KB numbers). On hardware inventory, the software had a few minor discrepancies, such as listing the actual processor speed being off by a few MHz and disk/memory storage numbers not exactly displaying what was expected. A nice touch was the software’s use of log files for each client that describe exactly what took place and when. The management interface lets you drill down on any item to get more information.

Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite uses a snapshot technique to create distribution packages. To accomplish application healing, the software periodically checks the client to see if any files in a managed application are missing or settings changed, and then fixes the problem.

Mobile Automation calls its remote control application Live Support. This application operates in attended or unattended mode. The attended mode is meant to be used in conjunction with a user at his computer, requiring the user to grant permission for a Live Support session. Unattended mode is aimed more for remote access to troubleshoot or perform system maintenance. The Mobile Automation 2000 Web console supports only attended mode at this time.