Unicenter vaults into wireless management

Pushing functionality of its flagship network management platform deeper into the wireless realm, Computer Associates International Inc. (CA) on Monday unveiled Unicenter WNM (Wireless Network Management) and Unicenter MDM (Mobile Device Management).

The new Unicenter wireless products are designed to provide wireless access to management applications tools and to enable management of mobile devices such as Blackberry, Pocket PC, and Palm OS devices, said Yogesh Gupta, chief technology officer of Islandia, N.Y.-based CA.

“We’re basically talking about covering all aspects of the [wireless] network, starting with discovery,” said Gupta, referring to WNM. Gupta added that the wireless Unicenter product is designed to automatically discover wireless access points and plugged-in LAN devices. Furthermore, he said the product also enables areas such as topology and configuration, availability, events, performance, and integrated intrusion detection.

The company’s MDM is built to manage popular mobile devices sprouting up by considering critical tasks such as automated software distribution, configuration management, asset management, anti-virus, secure communications via VPNs (virtual private networks) and device identification, Gupta added.

Both WNM and MDM will be integrated through CA’s common services model and will be delivered through its CleverPath portal interface.

Steven Drake, program manager of mobile infrastructure software at Framingham, Mass.-based IDC, said that for the most part management of wireless LANs and devices has fallen on the shoulders of the mobile device makers. He said that should change following the announcement by CA made Monday.

“It’s IT that is being forced to recognize these [wireless] devices being brought into the enterprise,” Drake said. “CA is putting the stamp on this and saying [wireless management] is important. That’s going to change the market to some extent.”

However, Drake noted that a great deal of groundwork needs to be covered by CA and early management market players such as IBM/Tivoli to tailor traditional enterprise offerings suited for a high-bandwidth, wired environment.

“Their products work great on LANs, but it’s a much different world in mobile. But they have the ear of the customer. You certainly can’t discount the impact these guys will have in the mobile space,” Drake added.

Gupta said Unicenter WNM and Unicenter MDM will be available this summer. Pricing has not yet been set.