Google Android, Apple iOS devices corralled by new device manager

Android and iOS mobile devices now can be corralled by a Smith Micro device management application unveiled this week at the Interop show in Las Vegas. Client-side code makes even personally-owned devices visible to enterprise IT managers.

Previously, the Smith Micro Mobile Device Management (MDM) client ran only on products using the Symbian OS or Microsoft Windows Mobile. Now iOS and Android devices such as Apple iPhones and iPads and Motorola Droids and Xooms are included, with RIM BlackBerry OS, Windows Phone 7 and HP/Palm webOS scheduled to arrive later in 2011.

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The product implements the Open Management Alliance Device Management (OMA DM) specification for remote mobile device management. The application has a DM server with a Web user interface, and a set of Web services APIs to integrate with various network and IT infrastructures.

The Open Management Client also is based on the OMA DM standard, with proprietary plug-in features.

The device management market is surging, as companies struggle to cope with an influx of mobile gadgets equipped with cellular or Wi-Fi radios, or both. Sometimes, these are company owned but other times they're owned by employees. Numerous vendors are offering products.

Smith Micro emphasizes a blend of self-service and auto-provisioning to simplify the initial installation. First-time users surf to an enterprise portal and log in to start the registration process. MDM sends an SMS message with a URL link; clicking on the link starts the download of the policy-based profile for that user, or his group, or his type of machine. The profile configures the device to specification: setting up the VPN, Wi-Fi settings, email, and approved apps.

BY THE NUMBERS: Gartner releases first MDM Magic Quadrant Report

The application can create groups of mobile users, assign them or their group a range of policies, including role-based policies, and provision the devices over the air. Policies might include blocking jailbroken iPhones, for example. At the same time, IT administrators can get an inventory of the apps on each device, and remotely locate, lock and wipe the device if necessary, all via a single, central console.

Users can access a portal to get additional apps, updates, new profiles, etc. And they can be given permission to lock or wipe a lost or stolen device on their own via the portal.

The new version of MDM is now available. Pricing is now on a per-device basis, with a minimum of 500 devices required. The per-device price varies with the number of devices, but starts at around $60.

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.

Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnww

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