Coming Soon: Managed Services for iPhones

By Lawrence Walsh  |  Print this article Print


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Kaseya is developing remote management tools to give solution providers the ability to remotely configure and manage Apple iPhones, Microsoft Mobile and Symbian devices.

In just 18 months since its debut, the Apple iPhone commands the third largest market share for smartphones in the North American market. In 2008, the number of iPhone users soared more than 325 percent, and an increasing number of people are turning in their BlackBerry and Symbian-based devices in favor of Steve Jobs' handheld creation.

The hyper adoption of iPhone is part of the motivation behind Kaseya’s development of tools to support the iPhone, Microsoft Mobile and Symbian OS smartphone platforms. The managed services and automation tools vendor plans to release beta versions of its mobile phone management tools in the first half of 2009 and have a general release available by the third quarter.

"It’s an untapped market and an accelerating market, especially for the services providers," says Jim Alves, executive vice president of product marketing and strategies.

The Kaseya tool kit will enable full remote management for the Apple iPhone, and devices that use Microsoft Mobile, Microsoft CE and Symbian. According to Gartner, Symbian dominates the smartphone market with nearly a 50 percent share, Research In Motion—makers of BlackBerry devices—is second with 16 percent, iPhone is third with 13 percent and Windows Mobile is fourth with 11 percent.

"[Service providers] will be able to manage the whole device and be able to do configuration, back up the phone, wipe the phone and deploy apps," Alves said.

Kaseya’s development of smartphone management and support tools for managed services providers has been in the works for more than a year, Alves says. While BlackBerrys and other e-mail enabled cell phones have been in the enterprise for years, the explosion of new smartphone applications and the number of enterprise uses have overwhelmed many IT departments' ability to support mobile platforms.

"The time we spend on getting phones configured is huge. To be able to do remote management on someone’s device would be a great benefit," says Dan Wilson, CEO of Waypoint Solutions Group in Charlotte, N.C.

Solution and managed service providers say the demand for smartphone support and managed services is practically non-existing among their customers. However, they do see the potential for such services in the near future as the adoption of complex applications for mobile devices increases.

"It’s a very beneficial solution that we could provide," says Bogi Gudbransson, chief information officer at PEQ Consulting, a managed services and solutions firm in Dayton, Ohio. "People aren’t asking for it today, but it’s a perfect extension of our current services offerings."

Smartphones are evolving rapidly as bandwidth, processing power, battery life and memory improve. Several enterprise software vendors—most notably Salesforce.com—are providing mobile applets and interfaces to their Web-based applications. Wyse Technology, a thin-client software and hardware vendor, already has an application for iPhones and envisions a day when the smartphone is powerful enough to be a fully functional thin client.

As smartphones evolve, complexity will make it increasingly difficult for in-house IT departments to configure, deploy, manage and secure. Providing low-touch management tools, Kaseya believes, will open new opportunities for companies that deliver managed services.

"Any time we can take control without having to walk someone through the process would be a real benefit," says Craig Vickers, vice president of sales at IT Now, a solution provider in Sandy, Utah.

Kaseya is also planning to release remote management and automation tools for Apple’s Mac OS X, giving managed service providers the ability to configure and manage the popular consumer desktop. Many service providers are seeing an increasing number of Macs in their customer environments, but they lack the ability to remotely manage and service them in the way they can Windows- and Linux-based PCs.

Lawrence Walsh Lawrence Walsh is editor of Baseline magazine, overseeing print and online editorial content and the strategic direction of the publication. He is also a regular columnist for Ziff Davis Enterprise's Channel Insider. Mr. Walsh is well versed in IT technology and issues, and he is an expert in IT security technologies and policies, managed services, business intelligence software and IT reseller channels. An award-winning journalist, Mr. Walsh has served as editor of CMP Technology's VARBusiness and GovernmentVAR magazines, and TechTarget's Information Security magazine. He has written hundreds of articles, analyses and commentaries on the development of reseller businesses, the IT marketplace and managed services, as well as information security policy, strategy and technology. Prior to his magazine career, Mr. Walsh was a newspaper editor and reporter, having held editorial positions at the Boston Globe, MetroWest Daily News, Brockton Enterprise and Community Newspaper Company.

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