CA Delivers The Back-End For BlackBerry Addicts

While Research in Motion’s BlackBerry is great for individual productivity in the enterprise, it can be a pain in the neck for IT staffers forced to deal with the security and interoperability issues these “CrackBerries” bring to the enterprise network.

Some IT departments have responded by banning any and all smartphones and PDAs from connecting to the company network. Others pick one device — usually the BlackBerry — and distribute it to their employees after establishing rules.
However, most companies spend an inordinate amount of time and money cleaning up employees’ smartphone messes.

CA on Monday rolled out Mobile Device Management (MDM), a software application that gives companies the ability to centrally manage thousands of BlackBerries across multiple BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES).

“The problem is these devices have become so powerful and have sensitive corporate data in applications and e-mail and they’re proliferating like crazy,” Allen Houpt, director of product management at CA, said in an interview with “All the issues and activations are coming into the help desk and these BlackBerry administrators are just getting swamped.”

Bugs, malware and security breeches are just part of the increasing pricecompanies have to pay as these must-have consumer devices make their way into the enterprise. And it will only get worse, as IDC predicts the mobile device management market will grow from $206 million in 2006 to more than $345 million by 2011.

The MDM software unifies security management, configuration management, asset inventory, policy compliance and reporting through a self-service portal configured by the powers that be at each company. The portal allows users to register their own devices, manage their passwords and lock or unlock their devices.

Houpt said BlackBerry administrators at an organization with as many as 5,000 mobile devices in use might deal with about 60 separate incidents a week. Activating a new BlackBerry or locking down a lost one or resetting a password can take 15 to 30 minutes per incident.

MDM, which will now compete with Sybase’s Alfaria software, can be integrated with CA’s existing asset management software and provides a customizable workflow for approvals, escalation, event management and other support processes.

“What’s nice about this is when a user changes his or her role, the company’s can set up the synchronization process for every or every day and find the policies that apply to each user on the RIM servers,” Houpt said. “If you discover a particular user falls under one policy group and that’s not what’s on the device, you can push out the next configuration to them.”

CA, which exceeded analyst estimates in its latest quarter and raised full-year sales and earnings projections last week, plans to expand MDM to other platforms starting with Symbian devices sometime next year.

The software is priced at $65 a copy at the high end with discounted rates for volume purchases.

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