The latest verison of the Afaria mobile management suite now integrates with Microsoft's Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003, iAnywhere has announced.

As a division of Sybase, iAnywhere's parent is a database rival to Microsoft but the partnership is just part of the version 5.3 upgrade to Afaria - a line the company picked up when it bought XcelleNet last year.

SMS 2003 support extends to handheld mobile devices previously unsupported by SMS. "From within SMS itself users can now manage non-Microsoft mobile platforms," said iAnywhere engineering VP Joe Owen.

The agreement is a continuation of Afaria's tradition of filling in Microsoft's management gaps. At the launch of SMS 2003, XcelleNet integrated its consoles with the Microsoft product, so Afaria users could extend SMS's grasp. At the time, embarassingly for Microsoft, it offered the ability to manage Windows Mobile 2003, which could not then be managed within SMS 2003.

This has continued, said Owen. Without Afaria, SMS does not support some of Microsoft's own mobile solutions such as SmartPhone and Pocket PC Phone edition. "Afaria picks up where Microsoft falls down," said Steve Drake, program director at IDC. This agreement means that it can now do so from within Microsoft's product.

The other major enhancement coming with Version 5.3 is push management support, which will give mobile managers the ability to push out software updates for changes in security policy, for example. While push management for persistent networks has always been available, this is the first remote mobile push management solution for a cellular network, according to Owen.

The third major enhancement in the new version of Afaria is the addition of a security module for encryption, authentication, and remote kill. Device support is also being upgraded for new releases of Windows Mobile 2003 2nd Edition, StrongArm Thumb processor, Symbian 7.0 Series 80, and Windows Mobile 5, codenamed Magneto.

Drake said as the enterprise begins to deploy mobile-enabled solutions and roll out thousands of new seats, they now recognise that they have to administer, manage, and secure all these systems quickly. "The announcement speaks to the idea that enterprises are looking to mobile enable and do administration and security at the point of deploying a new application," said Drake.

Afaria 5.3 is shipping now. In the US, prices ranges from $30 to $100 per device.