Vendors, operators aim for simplicity

By , IDG News Service |  Mobile & Wireless

Services and software to be introduced Monday at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment trade show in San Francisco are aimed at giving enterprises greater control over their mobile systems and extending mobile data capabilities to more employees.

As the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) show gets started, Sprint Corp., Intellisync Corp. and Seven Networks Inc. all are set to unveil offerings that help large organizations get their key applications out to employees on the road.

Enterprise deployments of mobile devices and applications are weighed down with complexity, partly because mobile operators provide only some elements of the system, according to Bob Egan, president of Mobile Competency, a consulting company in North Providence, Rhode Island. Getting business applications running on mobile devices is a hard job that most IT departments don't want, he said.

Sprint, one of the largest U.S. mobile operators, plans to solve that problem by making enterprise mobile rollouts like PC deployments. With its Sprint Managed Mobility Services, the carrier will provide devices to enterprises, configure them with applications and security features customized for particular types of employees, bill the company as a whole instead of individual employees, and replace the devices every 18 months, according to Kenny Wyatt, assistant vice president for customer solutions and marketing at Sprint. For the development work of integrating a company's applications into the mobile data system and creating client interfaces for handheld devices, Sprint can turn to its Business Solutions Partners, Wyatt added.

Currently, most corporations have employees buy and configure their own mobile devices, according to Sprint. The managed service puts them under corporate control. For example, the enterprise can dictate the parameters for creating passwords and for when they are required, Wyatt said. At the same time, IT staff is shielded from the complexity of the system. For example, Sprint can configure handsets over the air, he said. For security reasons, if a device is lost or stolen, Sprint can lock up the device or wipe it clean of data, over the air, at the company's request.

The managed service will come at an extra charge on top of monthly service plans: on a typical monthly charge of US$60 to $80, it probably will cost less than 10 percent for conventional cell phones and 10 percent to 20 percent for converged voice-data devices, Wyatt said.

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