While SCO waits for the results of its bid to sue the industry for Linux royalties, it has launched a program to manage Windows and Unix servers from a mobile phone.

HipCheck, from SCO's Me Inc mobile services division, runs on Windows Mobile phones. It can monitor and manage Windows servers as well as SCO' s Unix servers..

"The majority of interest is on the Windows side," said Nigel Simpson on the technical staff at SCO. The company is selling it through partners, including partners (unnamed as yet) who are not currently selling any SCO software. "Windows is a lot more stable these days," said Simpson, "but people want to monitor, because of its background of not being the most reliable platform out there."

As well as a Windows version, the application is also under development for Solaris, with other Unix and Linux versions under consideration. HipCheck is currently offered as a service by SCO: IT managers can register servers, and the phones they will use to manage the, at a site run by SCO, after which, alerts are sent to the chosen phones, which can also run admin tasks on the servers.

"If an application dies, you can take steps to restart it from the phone," said Richard Perkins, SCO's regional sales manager. "It also monitors down to the hardware level." HipCheck can send alerts when parameters like free disk space or printer availability reach critical levels.

To try it out, users can download a PC version of the HipCheck client, register at SCO's Mobility Server, and register three servers to manage using HipCheck for two weeks. Fees range from $10 to $18 per monitored system per month.

By the end of the year, HipCheck will be available as an in-house server, alongside the current version, which will be hosted by third parties as well as SCO. Take-up for the hosted version has been good, said Perkins: "It's turned out that people prefer the hosted service. HipCheck has to be available if there are problems with the user's own servers. Also, it's actually far cheaper to use a hosted solution in the first place."

SCO's Me Inc mobility division is important to the company, said Perkins: "SCO has a huge installed base of OpenServer and UnixWare, and a profitable business. We've always been associated with providing a robust platform for transactional applications - and people want to give access to those apps in a more mobile space.".

The Me Inc server provides a secure connection for HipCheck, said Simpson, in which no passwords or IDs are stored on the phone: "It's all done with session IDs," he said, pointing out that the user can set these IDs to be short-lived for security. "If a handset is stolen or lost, it can't be used to attack the servers." Devices can be knocked off the HipCheck service when they are lost.

All this is well within SCO's resources, said Perkins: "SCO isn't spending all its money on lawyers. We have two or three people internally dedicated to legal matters. The rest are getting on with Unix and mobility work."