CA Puts BlackBerry in Order

CA's new tool aims to ease management of large BlackBerry deployments.

CA on Nov. 5 will jump feet first into the mobile device management space with a new, homegrown management tool designed to help enterprises centrally manage Research In Motions BlackBerry devices.

With its MDM (Mobile Device Management) tool, CA plans to fill a gap that exists in administrators ability to centrally manage large populations of BlackBerrys. Although there are some tools on the market, they dont offer the ability to manage thousands of BlackBerrys across multiple BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Servers) as a whole, said CA Director of Product Management Allen Houpt, in Ewing, N.J.

"Were augmenting existing RIM BlackBerry Enterprise Servers. We sit on top of those and add value," he said.

As more mobile devices are used in the enterprise, they are increasingly becoming a burden for IT departments to handle, according to Rich Ptak, an analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates. "This is a monster facing IT operations: their ability to manage, not just the normal infrastructure, but all the devices that have access into the corporate network," he said.

The CA MDM tool can unify security management, asset inventory, configuration management, policy compliance and reporting for thousands of BlackBerry devices across multiple RIM servers, the company said. At the same time, it includes a self-service portal that enterprises can configure. The portal allows BlackBerry users to register their devices, manage their passwords and—if the organization allows it—lock or unlock their devices.

The self-service portal is a big productivity booster and helps improve the security of data sitting on devices that may have been lost or stolen, said beta tester Juan Santiago, an IT wireless telephony specialist at CDW, in Chicago.

"If a user is at the airport and loses their BlackBerry on a Sunday, [normally] they have to wait until Monday before someone on the help desk could lock or kill the device. With this [MDM] they can go to a Web page, log in and lock the device themselves," Santiago said.

CAs MDM can automatically discover BlackBerry devices registered on BES servers and manage those devices without having to deploy an agent on them. It integrates with Microsofts Active Directory to "provide a more granular level of security and configuration," Houpt said. "When things change in Active Directory—maybe an employee is terminated—we can synchronize with it and automatically push new policies out to the device through the BES to disable it. We maintain synchronization between the BES, the database behind that, Active Directory and our software."


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MDM also provides a customizable workflow for approvals, escalation and other support processes, and a bulk-addition function allows users to quickly roll out a large volume of BlackBerry devices.

CDW, which has three BES servers, found the workflow capability very valuable in adding new users or servicing other requests, Santiago said. "Through the workflows, it knows what BlackBerry server [a device] needs to be added to. It saves me 5 to 10 minutes per user. Previously a request to add a BlackBerry could take me up to three days to [fulfill]."

CA intends to make the tool cross-platform, with additional support planned next for Symbian devices. Beyond that, CA will also add support for Windows Mobile devices, the company said.

The tool, which competes with Sybases Afaria tool, can be integrated with existing CA asset management software. "We discover the devices and we can pass that through to our asset management offerings, where they can be viewed and analyzed using our asset intelligence," Houpt said.

CAs MDM is expected Nov. 5 at a one-time price of $65. Volume discounts will be available.


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