Mobile Automation Inc. next week will continue its advance on enterprise desktop deployments with a new release of its Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite.
The six-year-old firm, which began with a mission to provide scaleable, easy-to-use tools to manage mobile computers including laptops and handhelds, added features in release 5.2 of its Mobile Automation Suite to serve large enterprises.
Included in the new release is a new reporting add-on, dubbed Mobile Reporting Manager, 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 eXtensible Markup Language, include a variety of graphics.
Other large enterprise-focused enhancements include full integration with Microsofts Active Directory, providing fully integrated views of Active Directory tree structures, as well as Wake-On-LAN support.
As more and more information workers go mobile, the need for scaleable administration of laptops and handheld devices is growing. Mobile Automation hopes to steal a march on enterprise-oriented desktop administration tools such as Novell Inc.s Zenworks or Microsofts Systems Management Server with its suite, that to date has scaled to support as many as 25,000 seats, according to Douglas Neal, president and CEO of the firm in Westlake Village, Calif.
“Players in this (mobile management) space are not scaleable. LAN management players have been very scaleable, and they are moving to support mobile, but not in a scaleable way,” said Neal. “This is the first enterprise-scale mobile management from a single repository infrastructure with a quick-to-deploy solution,” he claimed.
The suite avoids requiring multiple repositories at different locations by employing caching servers at remote locations that feed a single repository. The Web-based architecture uses HTTP clients that connect in the background to a central location to transmit inventory data or execute software updates. The software uses checkpoint restart to ensure efficient data transfer, and bandwidth throttling to avoid impacting user activity over slow-speed links.
Mobile Lifecycle Management Suite provides software distribution, inventory, OS migration and remote control functions for Microsoft Windows PCs as well as Windows CE devices, Palm OS and Blackberry handheld devices.
“Weve never had LANDesk of Zenworks, but weve had three or four different applications that did what (Mobile Automation) can do in one application,” said current user Sherry Jackson, manager of personal technology services at Las Vegas-based Sierra Pacific Resources Inc. “Consolidation is one of the things we were looking for. I wanted inventory, distribution and remote access in a single product, along with their ability to handle PDAs. Now I dont need anything else,” she said.
But at least one industry observer believes its not Mobile Automations technology, but its focus on selling to specific vertical markets has helped it to grow. “They are tweaking their software in the right direction, but you have to look at how they sell it. The enterprise is not buying generic technology solutions. MA does have that edge in approaching vertical markets,” said Tim Scannell, president and chief analyst at Shoreline Research in Quincy, Mass.
The new release, which also includes native MSI (Microsoft Installer) and Apache Web server support, ships August 8. 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 4000 clients is priced at $9000.