March 27, 2006, 10:21 AM — Enterprises can add BlackBerrys and Windows Mobile 5.0 smartphones to the list of devices that can be managed using iAnywhere Solutions Inc.'s Afaria software, an upgrade to which was announced Monday.
Afaria 5.4 also adds new management features, including the ability to monitor devices and take actions based on changes. For example, if the battery life on a smartphone drops below 20 percent Afaria 5.4 can be set to automatically back up important files to an external storage card or the corporate network, said Shari Freeman, manager of software engineering and product management for iAnywhere.
The upgrade also allows administrators using Microsoft Corp.'s Systems Management Server (SMS) to manage their wireless devices from the server. "We've integrated it so devices that are not natively managed by SMS, like smartphones and Symbian phones and Palm devices, can be managed from an SMS console," Freeman said. Administrators can also manage BlackBerrys from their SMS console as well, she said.
The upgrade also provides a wider array of information about devices, such as which mobile networks they're attached to as well as network and phone settings. The information could be helpful to administrators when they troubleshoot problems, Freeman said.
Another new feature is the ability to log a permanent device identifier that doesn't change even if the device is reset or loses power. Some handhelds return to their default settings when they lose power completely. When that happens, the network typically identifies it as a new device when it reconnects to the network, Freeman said. With Afaria 5.4, even when a smartphone gets a hard reset, the network recognizes it as the same phone and can push out policies and other settings, she said. Afaria 5.4 stores an identifier like a serial number or universal ID number, depending on the device.
Some of Afaria's features, such as the ability to wipe out data if a device is lost or stolen, are also offered by push e-mail vendors. But Afaria offers the advantage that it can manage a wide variety of smartphones, PDAs and laptops, said Joe Owen, iAnywhere vice president of engineering. "We're seeing everyone from Microsoft on down adding bits and pieces of device management for the platform they might support," he said.
But while Afaria aims to offer comprehensive capabilities for many types of devices, it doesn't replace products like the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which pushes e-mail out to BlackBerrys, he said.
Afaria version 5.4 is due to be available Friday, iAnywhere said. Pricing was not immediately available.