New tools help handle handhelds

Help appears on the way for network administrators looking to get a grip on the management of handheld devices.

Mobile Automation Inc. this week is releasing Mobile Automation 2000 (MA 2000), Web-based programs that give managers tools for controlling handhelds, laptops and remote PCs.

Mobile Automation's product includes a set of server programs that run on Microsoft Corp.'s Windows NT and 2000, and client programs called agents that are downloaded to handhelds running Windows, Windows CE and Palm Inc.'s Palm OS. The vendor also is testing a client for Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry interactive pager.

Using the server software and a Windows client or a Web browser, administrators can, among other things, set up automatic software downloads to handhelds, remotely configure them and automatically collect some information from them about the specifics of the devices and their software.

MA 2000 "sees" the handhelds when they are plugged into the network by putting the device into its cradle, or attaching through a wireless Ethernet card or modem. Agents can set up interactions with server programs, letting MA 2000 change configurations or update software without actions by the end user.

MA 2000 is available for $4,995 per server, $45 per Windows CE device and $19 per Palm OS device.

Computer Associates International Inc. also has new or improved products aimed at wireless devices.

CA recently integrated two management programs into its Unicenter TNG platform, one for software distribution and the other for inventorying software. And CA will unveil additional software for managing wireless networks and devices during the next two months, said Allen Andersen, vice president of enterprise management.

Andersen said areas being targeted include strengthening wireless security and automating more management tasks, such as configuring handhelds with applications and authorizing access to network applications and data.

For more information about enterprise networking, go to Network World Fusion. Story copyright 2000 Network World Inc. All rights reserved. Distributed by IDG News Service.

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