Odyssey Software SCCM 2007 Add-In Eases Mobile Device Management

SCCM Snap-in Includes Remote Control for Troubleshooting

Odyssey Software announced November 12 the release its Athena Add-In wireless device manager for Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007. The extended mobile device management provided by Athena is now integrated with the SCCM console to increase administrative control over enterprise mobile devices without the need to launch a separate proprietary console.

At the Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft TechEd IT Forum, Mark Gentile, Odyssey's president and CEO announced that the company's wireless mobile device management solution Athena is now available as an add-in for SCCM 2007.

According to Gentile, Athena integrates with SCCM to provide extended device management and support for any mobile device running Microsoft Windows Mobile and Windows Embedded CE, including consumer, rugged and smart phone devices.

"Athena is designed to extend System Center with additional capabilities that go beyond the basic inventory, asset collection, and provisioning capabilities that System Center offers," says Gentile.

According to Gentile, Athena allows admins more control of mobile devices over any public or private IP-based network, including live remote-control functionality for troubleshooting, the ability to distribute software and control settings-management and policy enforcement from a central location, and the ability to see what applications the device is running and the status of their network.

Athena does not use a dedicated server, process, or even a console. "The heart of the product is really an agent that resides on the device," says Gentile. "SCCM can deploy that agent out of the box." Athena uses XML Web services and SOAP over SSL and certificate-based authentication to communicate with SCCM.

Under Odyssey Software's support and maintenance program, Athena customers pay no additional licensing cost to upgrade from the Add-In for Systems Management Server (SMS) 2003 to the Add-In for SCCM 2007.

Gentile says Odyssey is developing a similar add-in for Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008 and a management pack for System Center Operations Manager.

Tony Rizzo, director of mobile technology research for industry analyst The 451 Group, says "more and more Microsoft shops will adopt the Odyssey platform," as a result of Odyssey's deepening affiliation with Microsoft.

But, Microsoft's history of buddying up to companies and their innovative technologies until it can produce the technology itself should worry Odyssey. Rizzo says things are going well for Odyssey now, but the company needs to watch out if Microsoft decides to veer away from its affiliation with Odyssey once they can duplicate Odyssey's tools.

Rizzo believes the enterprise mobility market will take off in 2009, with the number of active mobile device users near 80 percent. "This market is still in its infancy, Rizzo says. He believes next year will be the "on-ramp" year for enterprise mobile technology market players to establish themselves.

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