Monday, October 29, 2007

Six technologies to enhance mobile workers and take the pain out of managing them..part 1

Mobile workers and road warriors are among the most expensive and difficult for IT departments to support, and the workers themselves often struggle with reduced functionality that hinders their productivity. Here are six technologies that can help bring some sanity to the process.

1. SprintSecure Laptop Guardian

This combo device was launched last week at Interop New York 2007 in partnership between Alcatel-Lucent and Sprint. In terms of enterprise manageability, the SprintSecure Laptop Guardian is extremely robust, although it’s also a little bulky and cumbersome (see photo on the right). At the core, it is a beefed up PCMCIA card that connects to the Sprint Mobile Broadband network. However, it also contains its own CPU, its own 100-hour battery, and its own flash storage. As a result, the card continues to run even when the laptop is turned off. It also functions as a smart card for two-factor authentication, so if a user removes the card the laptop is unusable since the user can no longer log in.

The Laptop Guardian gives IT the kind of manageability that it normally only gets for desktops and laptops that are connected to the corporate LAN. Over-the-air and regardless of whether the laptop is powered on or off, IT can get complete status updates of the OS, apps, usage, and policy enforcement. IT can also push software updates, change policies, do a remote-wipe, and/or remotely lock-down the data on the machine. The card even includes GPS so that IT can pinpoint the location of the laptop at any time, which can especially useful if it is stolen.

The things to keep in mind about this product is that it only works with Sprint Mobile Broadband and it invokes a very stringent set of security and manageability principles upon the user, which could be a significant cultural change for some road warriors. Of course, the increased manageability also means that IT can provide better and faster support to the laptop when issues arise. The product also includes a transparent VPN client, so there is no software to run for the end user and the laptop is always connected to the corporate WAN. See the online demo of SprintSecure Laptop Guardian for more..


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