IAnywhere Solutions Inc. has upgraded its software for managing PCs, laptops and other devices used by remote workers and will offer a new pricing scheme intended to cater to tighter IT spending budgets, the company will announce Monday.
Called Manage Anywhere Studio, the product helps keep an inventory of devices being used by sales teams, telecommuters and other remote workers. It tracks information such as which applications are installed and how much memory is available. It can also be used to repair devices remotely and push out new software.
The market for such products is becoming more competitive as the use of laptops and PDAs becomes more widespread and as companies become more dispersed geographically, said Warren Wilson, a practice director with Summit Strategies Inc., of Boston. Competitors include mFormation Technologies Inc., XcelleNet Inc., Wavelink Corp. and others, he said.
With Version 5 of Manage Anywhere, which is due out by the end of the February, iAnywhere has split the product into three functional areas so customers don't have to buy all parts of the software if they don't need them. It also adds new support for devices running Microsoft Corp.'s Pocket PC software and new security features.
The upgrade is an incremental one rather than a big overhaul, but iAnywhere has been improving the product gradually over time, and the new, modularized pricing scheme should be beneficial for customers, Wilson said.
"I think a lot of companies are just recognizing the need for device management and they want to get into it gradually. This offers a pretty easy way for them to do that," he said. (Sybase Inc., iAnywhere's parent company, is among Summit Strategies' clients.)The three components are Discovery Manager, which keeps a basic inventory of devices, Support Manager, for diagnosing problems and repairing systems remotely, and Systems Manager, used to push out software updates or enforce configurations.
"In a time of economic constraint people still spend money, but they spend it differently, on products that can help them control costs or improve security. We found a lot of people saying, 'Yes, I need to get my inventory and help desk capabilities, but right now that's all I want,'" said Rob Veitch, iAnywhere's director of business development.
Pricing varies depending on the platform being managed, but for Windows systems, Discovery Manager is priced at US$15 per seat; Support Manager is US$35 per seat, and Systems Manager is US$100 per seat, Veitch said. Each component includes the ones that precede it, so Systems Manager includes all three components.
IAnywhere also introduced a new component, Migration Manager, for migrating remote systems to a new operating system. The initial version supports only Windows and is an option with any of the other modules, Veitch said.
"We see a lot of people getting ready to bite the bullet and go to Windows XP. This allows you to push the upgrade to XP out to remote offices," he said.
IAnywhere also added support for Pocket PC devices, for which there was "tremendous interest" among businesses in 2002, according to Veitch. A new security function called "Zap It" lets an administrator do a hard reset to a Pocket PC device, wiping out its contents if it's lost or stolen, Veitch said.
PDS Research, which conducts drug tests for pharmaceutical companies, is a longtime Manage Anywhere customer. It uses Manage Anywhere to deliver new software to the hundreds of clinics that take part in its tests, and also to train staff at those locations, which are spread all over the world, in how to use its software, said Ben Baker, IS manager at the Louisville, Colorado-based company.
"It gives us a view of their computer screen. We take control of it and say, 'This is how we recommend you do something,' and they can see the keystrokes we're doing," Baker said.
PDS also uses the software in-house to remove applications from employees' desktops that aren't supposed to be there, such as file-trading programs like Kazaa. Baker does this by writing programs that remove the applications using iAnywhere's scripting tools, he said.
"You can get detailed information about what's on any computer. Once you know that information, writing the scripts isn't that difficult," he said.
IAnywhere will host a Webcast Feb. 11 to discuss the upgrade's features; registration is at http://www.ianywhere.com/manage_anywhere.