• United States

Discovering and managing tiny IT assets

Feb 24, 20032 mins
MobileNetwork SecuritySmall and Medium Business

* Special remote functions for mobile devices

I have to confess that lately I’ve avoided discussions of some of the mobile application development and management aspects of the wireless industry. For a time, the business models of many of the participating companies were changing so frequently that I feared anything I wrote would be obsolete by the time you read it.

But certainly, adapting small-screen mobile devices to back-end core business applications and managing and securing the mobile devices are important considerations.

So I recently chatted with Rob Vietch, director of business development at iAnywhere Solutions, Sybase’s mobile subsidiary. As you may know, the company makes a “lite” version of the Sybase database application, dubbed SQL Anywhere, which successfully squishes applications that use the Sybase database into mobile PDAs and smart phones.

As you know, it’s often a challenge for IT to get its arms around management and security of small, far-flung Palm, PocketPC, and RIM devices. They are affordable enough that employees tend to just expense these items out of their own department’s budget, without IT’s knowledge.

But what happens when a device runs a business application that needs updating or contains a vulnerability, such as SQL Slammer, that needs a protection patch? How can IT fulfill its responsibility to protect the data in the devices and access to central resources if it doesn’t know that the devices exist?

Well, iAnywhere’s latest management software (dubbed Manage Anywhere Studio 5) aims to address this by eliminating the need for a computer to be on and communicating across a LAN for a continuous period of time to receive remote updates and support. The company’s smart management package automatically executes – possibly in pieces – whenever the remote device is turned on. It might take several days to complete, if the device is frequently turned on and off, but updates happen in background mode so they don’t interfere with the user’s activities.

I particularly like the idea of a feature called “Zap It,” which deletes all sensitive information from a PocketPC device that has been lost or stolen.

There are many other sophisticated features for discovering on-again, off-again mobile assets, managing them, migrating them to new operating systems, securing them and so forth, but you get the basic picture. Another company, AvantGo, performs similar functions, and iAnywhere says it has made a bid to purchase the company.