In tests, the rather slim advantage that Afaria 4.51 had over Mobile Automation 2000 is its ability to use Windows Domain security or an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) server to authenticate users. Both products use medium-duty encryption routines to encode communication between the client and the server. We were able to tie access to software updates to security restrictions based on user rights in Active Directory.
Afaria supports the broadest range of mobile clients, including the BlackBerry, which wont be supported in Mobile Automation 2000 until later this year. For every product except the BlackBerry, we easily gathered essential hardware information such as processor type and the amount of available memory.
Afaria did a good job of keeping this information updated, even when we disconnected our devices ungracefully during synchronization. The only problems we experienced with application and data installations in these cases were that ActiveSync (Pocket PC) and HotSync (Palm) were unhappy with the incomplete synchronization.
Afaria could stand some improvement in its day-to-day operational ease. We had to do a lot of hopping around among various module interfaces to get the information we needed. Just one example of this was when we set up an anti-virus definition file update. We had to do quite a bit of interface-jumping to figure out which devices needed the new definition file and then set up the job to distribute the file.
While putting together the definition file, we found that Afaria 4.51 is bolted onto Windows Installer Tuner from InstallShield Corp. Were seldom happy to see the "Frankenstein" approach to device management, especially in a high-priced product, and we hope Afaria will take the trouble to at least better integrate the installer tuner in the next rev of the product.