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Handheld users get another reason to ignore people: Fixing servers

Vendor lets IT staffers manage systems from BlackBerry, Windows Mobile devices

May 29, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld -

Imagine that you're an IT worker in an environment where laptop use may be impossible -- for instance, on a date in a restaurant.

Suddenly, an urgent e-mail about a system problem arrives on your BlackBerry, sent by a department manager at your company. You turn to your date and say, "Excuse me. I need to reboot a server."

An eavesdropping waiter's eyes open wide with alarm over the prospect of a meal cut short, while your date thinks, "So this is what it will be like." But from your handheld itself, you fix the server, and the dinner continues.

The ability to manage servers via BlackBerry or Windows Mobile devices is a feature that Avocent Corp. has added to its DSView 3 data center management software. The Huntsville, Ala.-based vendor announced the server management capability last week and said DSView 3 users can also now reset passwords, edit batch files and handle other functions from their handhelds.

The new functionality gives IT workers "the ability to respond to unplanned issues regardless of where they are," said Steve Geffen, a product manager at Avocent. "It certainly provides them a safety net." The handheld management feature uses the same user authentication process as logging in to systems from a desktop does, he added.

Avocent acquired the handheld management technology when it bought Calgary, Alberta-based Sonic Mobility Inc. in 2004. But Avocent didn't want to sell the handheld technology as a stand-alone product. "We really want to provide a complete data center solution," Geffen said.

There are a number of vendors that support monitoring of systems via handhelds. But Dennis Drogseth, an analyst at Enterprise Management Associates in Boulder, Colo., said he thinks Avocent's out-of-band server management capability is a unique offering at this point. "It is a natural extension of their core product offering," Drogseth said.

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