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Novell Makes Mobile Market Move

HANOVER, Germany – CeBIT – Novell Inc. has launched its first mobile device management software and its first online backup system for PDAs, at the CeBIT trade fair here in Hanover. The company’s entry into handheld management is another indicator of how handhelds are becoming an integral part of corporate life.

The mobile device management software, called Zenworks for Handhelds 4.7, is derived from the Orbiter software the company acquired when it bought Callisto Software Inc. last November. The software enables systems administrators to centrally manage Palm and Pocket-PC handhelds, check what software is on the devices, and send out operating system revisions, new applications, and updates. The devices can be monitored when the user synchronizes it wirelessly or via a desktop sync cradle.

The ZenWorks for Handhelds system will see some upgrades in future editions. Most importantly, Novell will link the software to its eDirectory service, which identifies computing resources on a network and makes them accessible to users and applications. Novell has already announced an eDirectory software upgrade that enables administrators to bring resources from wireless LAN networks into the corporate fold – handheld integration will follow.

Novell's other new release, iFolder, enables users to back up and store files from a variety of computing devices on their corporate servers. The Professional Edition 2 allows users, for the first time, to access these files from Palm or Pocket-PC gadgets.

Novell ran into problems when it tried to demo both products for Unstrung's benefit. Attempts to show wireless synchronization between a PDA and a server were stymied by the Bluetooth wireless system at CeBIT, which was down. Eventually, a link was made between the Palm Inc. device and an Ericsson AB Bluetooth phone, and data was passed over a dialup link. However, we expect that most people would have given up by that point and just used their desktop cradle.

Mobile management has become a hot topic over the last two years, as more and more devices make their way into the workplace. Frequently these gizmos have been bought by the user themselves, not authorized by the IT department. Often the PDAs have a direct link with a corporation’s desktop PCs and/or servers, and they send and receive corporate data on a daily basis. Taken together, these facts are likely to make your average system administrator break out in a cold sweat.

Inevitably, companies started to see the need for software that would allow their IT departments to track what exactly is on a user’s handheld. Small firms like XcelleNet Inc. kick-started the market. However, around the middle of last year the big boys started to get interested. Computer Associates International has partnered with a slew of companies – including Aether Systems Inc. and Wireless Knowledge Inc. – to supplement its desktop management software. The company announced its BrightStor mobile backup software this week.

About the only major name that has not yet made a move into the mobile management space is Microsoft Corp. The software giant is relying on third parties like XcelleNet to integrate their mobile software with its existing Systems Management Server.

— Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung
http://www.unstrung.com
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