BoxTone launches tool for single management view of mobile devices

Mobile Service Management can be run either on a data center server or in an enterprise cloud

Mobile management software vendor BoxTone today announced a system that's designed to give IT shops a single management view of all the devices and mobile networks within an enterprise.

The vendor is positioning the new software, called Mobile Service Management (MSM), as a response to the explosion in the number of mobile devices in business settings, from iPhones to Android smartphones, and to the increase in IT's interest in managing them. MSM will sell for about $35 per user, and it can be run either on a data center server or in an enterprise cloud.

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Columbia, Md.-based BoxTone is a privately held company founded in 2005. It has more than 200 customers, including banks, and its tools are used to mange more than 500,000 mobile users, said Brian Reed, chief marketing officer at BoxTone.

Reed said having a "single pane of glass" to view the health of mobile devices and the networks behind them is an industry first. Management software vendors have sought for years to unify all of the monitoring of systems and computers within an organization effectively in a "manager of managers" -- or MOM -- approach, he said, calling BoxTone's new Mobile Service Management software a "MOM for mobile."

MSM will not only show an IT administrator what devices are deployed, it will also indicate whether devices are experiencing problems. And if there is a problem with a device, MSM will pinpoint whether the problem is associated with a particular network operator.

The single view is designed to be proactive, meaning it will help show long-term patterns of device failures and determine whether software, hardware or the network is involved. The results can be quantified but also generalized with red, yellow and green icons (with red indicating a failure).

For example, a carrier's level of wireless latency and throughput could be presented as a quantifiable figure, and that level could be rated as being in operational mode (green), warning mode (yellow) or failure mode (red).

BoxTone said that its tool can detect virtually any mobile device, including Apple iPhones and iPads , as well as BlackBerry and Nokia smartphones and phones running the Android operating system or the upcoming Windows Phone 7 Series operating system. MSM can also evaluate mobile connectivity platforms, including the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, Microsoft ActiveSync, and Good Technology systems, as well as custom enterprise mobile apps.

Reed said the information gathered by MSM can be fed into traditional management software platforms for entire systems in products such as IBM Tivoli, HP OpenView, and related management tools from Microsoft, CA, and BMC.

Reed said BoxTone's most direct competitor is Zenprise Inc., a Fremont, Calif.-based vendor of mobile management software. But he characterized Zenprise's approach as "break-fix, which is only firefighting" and called BoxTone's approach more "performance-based."

Many companies have entered the mobile management software business in recent years, and BoxTone's offerings are designed to integrate with many of their tools, including those of MobileIron Inc. and Trust Diagnostics. MSM will also integrate with Google Apps for Mobile, Lotus Notes Travel, tools from Good Technology and open-source Zimbra applications, among others.

In another example of the growth in mobile management, Motorola recently announced a hosted service designed to keep mobile devices and wireless LANs running. The hosted service relies on Motorola-built software.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

Read more about mobile and wireless in Computerworld's Mobile and Wireless Knowledge Center.

This story, "BoxTone launches tool for single management view of mobile devices" was originally published by Computerworld.

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