Managing Mobile Computers

Mobile Automation Inc. will continue its advance on enterprise desktop deployments with a new release.

Mobile Automation Inc. will continue its advance on enterprise desktop deployments with a new release of its Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite.

The 6-year-old company, which began with a mission to provide scalable, easy-to-use tools to manage mobile computers, including laptops and handhelds, last week added features in Version 5.2 of its Mobile Automation Suite to serve large enterprises.

Included in the release is a new reporting add-on, dubbed Mobile Reporting Manager, and a Web-based dynamic reporting system that includes 50 sample reports, such as which machines are ready for a Windows XP to Windows 2000 migration or which machines are vulnerable to a certain worm. Reports, created using XML, include a variety of graphics.

Other large enterprise-focused enhancements include full integration with Microsoft Corp.s Active Directory, providing fully integrated views of Active Directory tree structures, as well as Wake-On-LAN support.

As more workers go mobile, the need for scalable administration of laptops and handheld devices is growing. Mobile Automation hopes to take on enterprise-oriented desktop administration tools such as Novell Inc.s ZENworks or Microsofts Systems Management Server with its suite, which to date has scaled to support as many as 25,000 seats, according to Douglas Neal, president and CEO of the company, in Westlake Village, Calif.

The suite avoids multiple repositories at different locations by employing caching servers that feed a single repository. The Web-based architecture uses HTTP clients to transmit inventory data or execute software updates.

Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite provides software distribution, operating system migration and remote control for Microsoft Windows PCs as well as Windows CE devices, PalmSource Inc.s Palm OS and Research In Motion Ltd.s BlackBerry handhelds.

"Weve never had [LANDesk Software Inc.s] LANDesk or ZENworks, but weve had three or four different applications that did what [Mobile Automation] can do in one application," said user Sherry Jackson, manager of personal technology services at Sierra Pacific Resources, in Las Vegas.

The new release also includes native Microsoft Installer and Apache Web server support. The new Mobile Reporting Manager is $1,900. The suite is priced at $90 per client with volume discounts, and a server supporting up to 4,000 clients is priced at $9,000.