Network Management in the Palm of a Manager's Hand

BOSTON (06/05/2000) - Tivoli Systems Inc. says companies that use the new Tivoli Device Manager (TDM) can manage handhelds running the Palm operating system through the company's framework software.

According to Austin, Texas-based Tivoli, TDM allows access by the remote devices to resources such as networked data storage. It also lets systems administrators manage their Palms with the same Tivoli Management Enterprise (TME) Console they use to run other devices.

TDM works by means of a Device Actuator agent, a small piece of code that resides on each Palm handheld. The Device Actuator collects information to feed back to the system when the user synchronizes the Palm. The flow is in two directions: The Device Actuator can execute commands and download data from the TDM server as well as upload data.

More Features

Some of the new product's capabilities have been available individually from various companies. They've also been available from competing framework vendor Computer Associates International Inc. in Islandia, New York, through its Unicenter enterprise management software.

But TDM extends the reach of systems administrators further than the competition, adding features such as automatic software distribution and removal, remote configuration, device management via user-profile groups and inventory tracking, according to a spokesperson at Santa Clara, California-based Palm Inc.

Concero, an e-commerce development consultancy, was an early user of TDM. The Austin, Texas-based company can now update employees who work at multiple, changing sites and "use a variety of tools, including PCs and Palm devices," a Concero spokesman said.

"When wireless and pervasive devices are discussed, it's often in the context of individuals," said James Governor, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire, in a recent report. "The real payoffs, however, are in groups.

And it's as much about infrastructure as about devices."

VicRoads, a government road-maintenance agency in Victoria, Australia, was a TDM beta user. Each day, road inspectors and work crews use a custom application to enter information on road conditions and work performed into a Lotus Notes database. Managers use information from both groups to make daily assignments.

When mobile staffers synchronize the Palm units, the Device Actuator initiates replication of their data to Palm and Notes servers and delivers the new assignments.

TDM was first released in March. New versions due later this year will support Windows CE, let handheld users choose software to download and include Tivoli Device Manager tools for software development.

Coming Soon

Set for release early next year is support for Epoc32, Europe's leading handheld operating system, and security support for distribution and management of enhanced encryption.

Palm last week announced its own management product, HotSync Server synchronization software for Windows NT servers, which is scheduled for release later this year.

As the number of handheld applications grow, "management is going to become a big issue," said Paul Mason, an analyst at International Data Corp. in Framingham, Massachusetts. "People are doing real work with them."

Device Manager costs $31 per device and the price of TME varies according to installation size and complexity.

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