According to Jack Gold, principal analyst with Northborough, Mass.-based J. Gold Associates, mobile management is an important, but disregarded area for most companies.
"Mobile device management and security management need to be transparent to the end user," Gold said.
To that end, Afaria 5.3, the latest version of iAnywhere Solutions Inc.'s management and security software suite, has been updated with several new features aimed at increasing that transparency, including improved patch management capabilities, additional wireless device platform support and security features for handhelds and converged devices.
Afaria 5.3 offers a new integration component that extends Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 management capabilities to various mobile operating systems -- such as Windows Mobile-based smartphones and BlackBerrys made by Research In Motion Ltd. -- ultimately enabling enterprise-wide device management from a centralized console.
Joe Owen, vice president of engineering at Dublin, Calif.-based iAnywhere, said the suite is designed for flexible security in the central management console.
"Security is a slider bar. You can be so secure [that the device is] practically unusable, and you can leave yourself wide open," Owen explained. "We try to let the IT administrators decide where they want the company to be on that slider bar."
The centrally controlled device settings can now activate configuration sessions using Microsoft's ActiveSync synchronization software, configure GPRS radio settings and set parameters around the applications permitted to run on mobile devices.
"The data encryption is done through the management side," Owens added. "Other than the user being required to authenticate themselves to the device, their security experience is transparent."
Though not as robust as offerings from Credant Technologies Inc. and Pointsec, Gold said Afaria's ability to manage base-level security needs within the context of a mobility management suite is a way for companies to start a regimented device security process. He said this is something companies weren't able to do in the past without going to a dedicated security suite.
Available now, Afaria 5.3 ranges from $30 per device to $100 per device, depending on the quantity deployed.
Gold said 5.3's strengths include support for multiple devices and integration with base-level security. However, he said it may be more expensive than some user organizations are willing to pay.