Managing on the fly
- By Dan Carney
- Aug 21, 2000
Most agencies find managing computers that are hard-wired to their servers
challenging enough without trying to handle tiny devices that users carry
around with them. But as those portable devices become mission-critical,
then managing them will also become critical.
Systems management vendor Tivoli Systems Inc. has extended its management
tool to support of handheld devices, too.
Claudio Valant, product manager at Tivoli, said the company sees four
issues dominating management concerns for tiny pervasive computing devices
such as cell phones and PDAs: change management, asset management, troubleshooting,
Change management is planning updates and upgrades ahead of time, so
the mobile devices are properly configured to accept remote management.
"The device needs to be ready to be managed as soon as it is delivered
to the user," he said. The process of managing changes on handheld devices
is very similar to managing desktop PCs in a distributed environment, Valant
said, so it should be familiar to network administrators. "You can configure
handhelds as small computers," he said.
Asset management, too, is similar to that for desktop PCs. The idea
is to track the devices and keep an inventory of what hardware and software
is installed on each one.
It is critical that administrators or help desk staff have the ability
to remotely diagnose and troubleshoot problems with handheld devices, so
that they don't have to visit and repair them in person.
Finally, the administrator needs to monitor devices to check the status
of components such as batteries. "A device like this needs more attention
than a desktop PC," Valant said.
Because the use of pervasive computing devices is expected to grow and
because there will be a wide variety of devices and they will communicate
with the network using different means, any management system has to be
able to accommodate this. "It will be important to be scaleable and flexible
to manage different platforms and to manage through different protocols,"
he said. "The challenge will be to be able to manage devices that are in
wired, dial-up and wireless environments."