InterNoded and Zenprise unveiled new versions of their applications for managing different parts of the BlackBerry world for enterprise users. The vendors demonstrated their respective releases at Research in Motion's Wireless Enterprise Symposium going on this week in Orlando.
Both companies are strengthening their ability to work with Microsoft server and client platforms, to centralise management across mixed-vendor mobile deployments. InterNoded focuses on administering and managing the mobile devices, while Zenprise automates monitoring and troubleshooting the entire BlackBerry mobile messaging infrastructure.
InterNoded introduced its InterNoded Mobile Device Manager (MDM) in late 2006, initially creating a single administrative view of the assets and behaviour of BlackBerry handhelds, across multiple BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) domains, with either Microsoft Exchange or Lotus Notes on the back end. MDM can set and enforce an array of policies, such as turning off a BlackBerry's onboard camera, and lets administrators optimise user and BES performance by load-balancing across multiple back-end servers.
The most recent version, 3.0, of the application added support for Windows Mobile devices and for Good Mobile Messaging. A Web portal gives users immediate self-service help and configuration tools.
Version 4.0 has been retooled to support two new optional features.
One is the MDM Inspector, a small client application that installs on the target handhelds, captures an array of local details about the device, and feeds it back to the InterNoded server. Coupling this with each user's profile, an administrator can see summaries and details of the device, such as its operating system and installed applications, and use a PIN number to create a record of activities and problems associated with that device.
The data can be used not only in trouble-shooting problems that arise, but avoiding those problems. "We built [Inspector] to do application and policy management," says Julie Palen, InterNoded's president and CEO. "I can see their [client] OS, the available memory, how much of that is free. I can see all users with less than 500Kbits of memory remaining, and plan memory or device upgrades."
Inspector also verifies that new policies created centrally have been successfully deployed to each target device.
The second new option is a full-blown application management program for provisioning devices with software. MDM version 3.2 could schedule software updates through the BES server. The new version goes further, using a rules engine to set policies and controls on which users or groups of users get which applications or updates and when."When you push out an application, we [now] can control that whole piece," Palen says.
This application management feature can work with an array of third-party mobile applications, and can either work with the provisioning features of those products or rely on its own.
Version 4.0 is targeting a very similar set of mobility challenges as Microsoft's just-released System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008. "In a pure Microsoft shop, with Systems Center [deployed], I probably won't add value to that, unless price is a consideration," Palen says.
Where InterNoded fits is in enterprises that have two or more mobile platforms, from middleware to handhelds. Later this year, for example, InterNoded plans to add support for the Apple iPhone. "Microsoft is not doing anything to support any other platform than its own," Palen says.
InterNoded Mobile Device Manager 4.0 will ship at the end of July. Users can buy the software without having to pay for the new options: the price is $5 per user per month, or less depending on the number of users. With both new options, that monthly price would double, to $10 per user.
Palen cites research by Gartner and by InterNoded with its own customers, which finds the average annual support cost for mobile users and their applications suite is about $820 per user. Palen says InterNoded's software can slash that to $274.
Zenprise, meanwhile, specialises in software that automatically monitors, sifts and analyses a mass of data to identify quickly the specific causes of a problem in an enterprise's BlackBerry service, whether the cause lies in the device, the carrier's cellular network, the BES or even RIM's network operations centre. The software also recommends and guides administrators in making the needed fixes where possible.
The 4.0 release of Zenprise has three new features.
One is support for the most recent version of two critical Microsoft server platforms: Exchange 2007 and Windows Server 2008. Zenprise can troubleshoot problems with these critical servers as they affect the BlackBerry service.
A second change lets Zenprise run on a 64-bit operating system, Windows Server 2003 x64. Being able to run Zenprise on such high-performance systems makes it possible to support very large BlackBerry deployments, and their application and throughput demands, says Ahmed Datoo, vice president of marketing for Zenprise.
The third major change is the addition of 500 new problem signature files to the Zenprise Symptom Database, bringing the total of such distinct problems to 6,500. With the signatures on file, the Zenprise software can collect and correlate data and quickly identify it as a known problem by comparing the patterns with those in the database.
Zenprise 4.0 will be available in July with no change to its pricing, which starts at $35 per user per year, based on 1,000 users.