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Sybase extends XcelleNet security tool to smartphones

When Sybase acquired mobile device management provider XcelleNet in April, the firm took what was widely seen as another step toward its goal of delivering end-to-end solutions for the so-called "Unwired Enterprise." Atlanta-based XcelleNet, which Sybase quickly folded into its mobile-focused subsidiary iAnywhere Solutions, had the mobile security and remote management technology then missing from the company's mobile infrastructure product list.

Today, iAnywhere is launching a new product based on XcelleNet technology: the Afaria Security Manager for Windows Mobile-based Smartphones. This Security Manager module, first introduced by XcelleNet last year for Palm and PocketPC devices, can provide power-on password controls and data-on-device encryption for Windows Smartphone devices (specifically Smartphone 2002 and 2003).

The Afaria product line focuses on what Shari Freeman, manager of software engineering with iAnywhere's XcelleNet product group, calls "front-line device management."

"Afaria is designed for the same mobile computing devices -- laptops and various handhelds -- as other iAnywhere products, but its focus is on the devices themselves," she told ADT.

Designed for companies with large numbers of remote or mobile computing devices, Afaria is used to distribute, install and maintain software on those devices, Freeman said. It tracks asset information -- what software is installed on the devices, how often they are used, how much memory is available, the battery power on hand, processor speed and the like -- and enforces configuration settings so that users can't change them and break applications. It's also used to back-up corporate data from devices and to keep corporate content up to date.

The Security Manager module adds a centrally managed, policy-based security solution to the same administrative console that delivers these management capabilities. It allows enterprises to define, deploy and enforce security polices that control user authentication through enforced power-on passwords, data encryption on the device and on removable storage cards, and device and data lockdown -- as well as data wipe -- in the event of loss or theft. Policies can be targeted at user groups or groups of devices, allowing varying levels of security to be set for different user populations where necessary.

XcelleNet's other product line, RemoteWare, is used in point-of-sale (POS) systems for polling, file transfer and content distribution.

XcelleNet's first Security Manager module targeted Palm and Windows CE devices because those were the devices they saw enterprises adopting, Freeman said. "Now we're starting to see companies interested in Smartphone devices," she noted. "The other client types are on our roadmap as market demand develops for them.

"We have a lot of customers who are rolling out and implementing handheld devices today in their sales and field forces," Freeman added. "But we are ahead of the curve in terms of corporate adoption of these devices -- in particular, the management and security needs that the companies are beginning to associate with them. Some companies are actively looking to roll out these types of devices to their field and sales forces, and other companies are in more of a reaction mode; they just want to find out what ones are already there and which ones are secure."

About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at john@watersworks.com.

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