Intel announced Monday that it is extending LANDesk Management Suite, Version 6.6 for desktop systems to include management of mobile devices. The additional applications will be called Mobile Manager.
Mobile Manager is being licensed from XcelleNet, an independent software and device management vendor based in Alpharetta, Ga. The applications will include XcelleNet's Afaria suite of applications, including Inventory Manager, Session Manager, and Software Manager.
One industry analyst said that with the downturn in the economy, Intel was not interested in developing the mobile technology on its own, and after a look at the available technology in the market selected XcelleNet.
"[Judging] from Giga client feedback, it was the right choice. XcelleNet came out on top in terms of customer satisfaction and number of customers using their product," said Ken Smiley, a director at Giga in Overland Park, Kan.
Mobile Manager will ship on Sept. 10, and will be available at launch for the Palm OS and Pocket PC devices.
The suite will enable LAN managers to schedule and retrieve device information such as battery level, OS version, radio signal strength, model, and serial number. On the application side, Mobile Manager can be used to check device resources before sending an application, to distribute software updates, and to monitor applications for corrupted and out-of-date files. Session management features include the generation of help desk alerts and a feature called CheckPoint Restart, which restarts a software download where it left off if interrupted.
As mobile devices attain parity with desktops in the corporate infrastructure, the major desktop management vendors are extending their applications to manage devices over wireless connections.
Mobile Manager puts Intel ahead of Microsoft, whose plans call for including mobile management features in the next version of its desktop management application, SMS 2003. A beta of SMS 2003, code-named Topaz, will ship in a few weeks to 60 early adopters, said Bill Anderson, lead product manager for Topaz.
Anderson would not speculate when SMS 2003 will ship, saying only that it will depend on input from beta users.
However, when it does ship it will include mobile management features for laptops only, with a client component for Windows CE, Pocket PC, and XP embedded slated to ship "a few months after that," according to Anderson.
SMS 2003 will include such features as Check Point Restart and bandwidth throttling. Bandwidth throttling juggles and allocates bandwidth if a user is both downloading e-mail and receiving a software update from the network at the same time.
The Pocket PC and Windows CE components will include a 140KB client at ship time and will offer other developers a set of open APIs to add additional management features.
"We talking to Synchrologic," Anderson said.
From the point of a view of the manager sitting at a console, Microsoft will add a mobile proxy to the application that will give managers a single window, single infrastructure and a single set of operational processes, Anderson said. Users will have to purchase additional client access licenses, but the mobile component will not be sold as a separate product, Anderson said.
Novel's management suite, ZenWorks, includes mobile management following the purchase of Calisto software last year.
While the major system management players such as Tivoli and CA also have mobile management features, those products are usually have a higher initial cost and, in the case of Tivoli, would require an enterprise to invest in the entire Tivoli framework, Smiley said.
In October Tivoli will announce that its Tivoli Handheld Device Manager product will be embedded into core IBM/Tivoli enterprise management technology. This will enable customers to implement distributed software tasks, inventory for asset management, and perform configuration on a much wider range of wireless devices, said Steve Wojtowecz, director of Market Management for Configuration and Operations, at Austin, Texas-based IBM Tivoli.
"Even if [customers] don't want to pay for [advanced wireless functionality] today, they want to make sure there's a roadmap in place for the future," Wojowecz said.
At its user conference in April of this year, CA incorporated systems management to its wireless reach -- beyond monitoring wireless resources and application availability -- by introducing Unicenter Wireless Network Management and Unicenter Mobile Device Management products.
Unicenter Wireless Network Management gives customers discovery of wireless access points and LAN devices, event and performance information, and intrusion detection protection, according to officials of Islandia, N.Y.-based CA.
Unicenter Mobile Device Management offers configuration, virus defenses, automated software distribution, and configuration of PalmOS, BlackBerry, and PocketPC. Both products are available and integrate with CA's flagship Unicenter systems management platform.
Pricing for Intel's Mobile Manager begins at US$64 per seat with volume discounts available for 100 or more seats.
Brian Fonseca contributed to this story.