IT managers will be able to push e-mail services onto handheld devices without touching them, in the next version of Good Technology's GoodLink mobile e-mail product. The company - which competes with BlackBerry, but runs on more handheld devices - also announced GoodLink services for customers with no Exchange servers, and better global coverage.

"GoodLink already operates with no desktop software and no cradles," said Sue Forbes, vice president of marketing at Good. "Now we have zero IT touch. The IT manager doesn't have to touch the devices to get GoodLink - or other applications - provisioned."

Over-the-air (OTA) provisioning is a new thing for the mobile email space, she said. The software can also be used to upgrade anti-virus or other security software on the device, for instance.

IT managers running GoodLink 3.0 only need to take the free server upgrade, and all their existing handhelds become zero-touch devices, she said. New devices can then be provisioned by having the user visit a secure web page: "For whatever version of the software you have, you only need to upgrade the server and you will never need to touch those devices."

Having to install software on handhelds is a major problem with mobile e-mail, said Forbes: "If you have 1000 units, and a process that takes 15 minutes per device, that adds up to six weeks of an IT manager's time."

Good also announced Global Connect, which lets users in more countries remain connected to a GoodLink server. Previously, GoodLink clients used SMS messages to keep in touch with the server, which required an SMS agreement with the operator. Now this has been replaced with a tiny IP message which can be sent regardless of the contract with the operator. "It's a tiny message sent to maintain the connection, and tell the operator not to drop the IP address. Operators use DHCP to reallocate addresses, and users might otherwise get dropped off."

"It's a key thing for multinationals," said Forbes. Otherwise IT managers might have to support different email services in countries where they couldn't get the right contract with a mobile operator.

Users who don't have their own Exchange servers will be able to pick up on Good too, she said, since "hosted GoodLink" will be available through VARs. The reseller will run a GoodLink server that communicates to hosted Exchange servers: the new idea here is to have a GoodLink server that can handle multiple organisations securely, she said.

Good also announced offices in seven new countries. France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Mexico, alongside existing offices in the US, the UK and Canada, take GoodLink's total of countries to ten.

GoodLink 4.0 will not actually be available till the end of January; "We are announcing it now because everyone who has GoodLink is OTA ready."

Does it work?
Read our review of GoodLink 3.0.