Montreal-based mobile policy management (MPM) vendor Trellia Networks Inc. recently launched an upgraded version of its hosted platform for automating and centralizing the enforcement of corporate mobile access policies.
Trellia launched the platform roughly two-and-a-half years ago as an on-premise solution, and released version 5.0, its first SaaS model, in October 2009. Key features new to version 5.1 are 3G data plan management, 3G asset management and stand-alone reporting.
The MPM platform allows enterprises to see what their users are doing with respect to connectivity (LAN, WiFi and 3G) and detect if there are any problems related to cost, security and end usage policies, said Raffi Tchakmakjian, vice-president of product management at Trellia.
Once the policies are set, they are distributed centrally, automated and enforced on the devices, he said. “The platform itself will make sure that the users are connected to the networks according to those policies that were distributed after the assessment period,” he said.
3G data plan management provides a “new level of visibility,” such as which users are approaching their data threshold, which have already crossed the threshold and other statistics that allow enterprises to select the right data plans for their users, he said. 3G asset management allows IT departments to track exactly where the devices are and who they are with, he said.
Tchakmakjian said deployments of the MPM platform typically start at 1,000 users.
Granular policies, visibility and support for any type of network service are what differentiate Trellia from the competition, according to Tchakmakjian. “The granularity is much higher with our product versus our competitors and we don’t have any services we force the enterprise to attach to,” he said.
“We enable the enterprise to pick and choose the services from different carriers, different WiFi providers, different networking technologies,” he said. This includes support for cable or DSL modems in homes and 3G providers like Rogers, Bell and Telus in Canada and Sprint or Verizon in the U.S., he said. “It is global, as well, so it supports all of the carriers around the world,” he said.
Mark Tauschek, research director at Info-Tech Research Group Ltd., doesn’t see a significant difference between Trellia’s version 5.1 feature set and other products on the market. “Looking at what we have here, there is not a huge differentiation … but it certainly keeps them competitive,” he said.
3G data plan management isn’t a market-changing feature, but it is relatively new in terms of knowing in real time where you are at from a usage perspective, he said. “That’s certainly a nice feature to have” because going over your voice or data plan can get “kind of pricey,” he said.
3G asset management is also “a nice-to-have” feature, but it relies on Qualcomm Inc.’s chipsets, he said. “If you have settled on mobile devices that have the Qualcomm Gobi functionality, then that’s a nice feature,” said Tauschek.
But knowing where users are at any given time raises privacy issues, he said. “While it has some value, if employees know that they can be tracked in that respect. Depending on the type of role they are in, that might be a contentious issue,” he said.
Info-Tech will be covering mobile management in greater detail over the next couple months, said Tauschek. “There are a lot of new and up-and-coming entrants in the mobile management space,” he said.
Trellia version 5.1 taps into an unsaturated market, according to Craig Mathias, principal at Ashland, Mass.-based wireless advisory firm Farpoint Group. “Ultimately, this is the kind of tool that most larger enterprises are going to want to have,” he said.
“This is a very new area of management and when you talk about all that’s required in managing a mobile workforce, this is just one piece of it … It is going to become much more important over time because workforces are becoming more mobile,” he said.
Trellia has “put a stake in the ground” in the policy management space, said Mathias. “There are a whole range of mobile device management products and oftentimes products of this class are lumped into that general category, and that’s all about provisioning and integrity management and security,” he said.
“Trellia really is more on the mobile policy management end of the world, which is more about how people use products and manage cost, and even there, it’s a fairly complex space. It’s not well-established, and there are a lot of companies out there who need these kinds of capabilities,” he said.
3G data plan management is a good example of managing to control costs, he said. “First of all, you can correct behaviours that might not be in concert with corporate objectives, and secondly, you have access to a whole range of information that can help you in negotiating with your carriers,” he said.
Mathias doesn’t take issue with the asset tracking. “They aren’t tracking you to watch everything you are doing. They want to know where the device is in case it gets lost … I don’t think this is a big deal,” he said.