Desktop Central suite gives enterprises fine control over iOS 6 devices

The PC, server, and mobile management software will support Android by the end of October, according to vendor ManageEngine

Enterprises should get more fine-grained control over their employees' mobile clients with the latest version of ManageEngine's Desktop Central software, which manages servers and PCs plus mobile devices and is coming to Android next month.

Desktop Central 8, available immediately, adds app management to the mobile device administration features the software already had. ManageEngine announced support for iPhones and iPads in the software in February, but its mobile capabilities were limited to handling settings, configurations, and security of devices, said Raj Savhlok, president of ManageEngine parent company Zoho.

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The growing use of smartphones and tablets in enterprises, many of which employees own and use for personal purposes as well as for work, creates new management challenges that many vendors are trying to address. ManageEngine extends the same management interface across servers and PCs, plus mobile clients through its Mobile Device Management add-on module for Desktop Central. Its software is widely used in the financial services and education sectors, with customers including Barclays Bank, the U.S. Department of Defense and Stanford University, according to the company.

"With this release, we get down to the granular level of the app," Savhlok said. Using the new features, IT departments can build a repository of apps, both internally developed and provided by third parties, and distribute those apps to one or a group of devices. They also can analyze the use of mobile apps, create reports with that information, and remove apps from one more devices in the field, he said.

When the IT department imposes those controls on phones or tablets that users buy on their own and bring in to work, it can leave personal apps alone by using a tool already available in the software, which can set up device profiles with separate business and personal segments on the device, Savhlok said.

Desktop Central 8 adds support for Apple's recently released iOS 6, plus the Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 operating systems. On the mobile side, the software works with iOS 4 and 5 as well, Savhlok said. But despite a pledge in February that it would soon add Android support, ManageEngine hasn't quite done that yet. On Wednesday, the company said that Android support would be available by the end of October, covering Android OSes going back to Version 2.2.

Android support will be crucial to ManageEngine because Android devices play a big role in BYOD (bring your own device) programs, according to ABI Research analyst Dan Shey.

Prices for Desktop Central 8 starts at $10 per computer, per year, for the Professional Edition. The Mobile Device Management Module, available for all editions of Desktop Central, is priced starting at $15 per device, per year. There is also a free version of Desktop Central that can manage as many as 25 computers and two mobile devices.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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