In this edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE, I continue my investigation of mobile and wireless remote administration with a closer look at Sonic Mobility's sonicadmin, an embedded application that runs on Pocket PCs. (A version for Research In Motion—RIM—devices will be available soon.)

Sonicadmin enables remote administration over a suitable wireless network, such as a wireless WAN (WWAN—e.g., Cellular Digital Packet Data—CDPD) or a wireless LAN (WLAN—e.g., 802.11b). Sonicadmin's embedded client software runs locally on the wireless device and communicates with the sonicadmin server component through the wireless connection. To use sonicadmin in an enterprise that has multiple Windows-based and non-Windows-based servers, you install the sonicadmin server component on only one Windows 2000 or Windows NT server; this installation enables control of any other servers in the enterprise. The sonicadmin server can reside in the enterprise demilitarized zone (DMZ), in which a regular Internet connection lets Pocket PC devices connect to the server. The server can also reside inside the enterprise; in this scenario, a VPN connection lets Pocket PC devices connect to the sonicadmin server.

Installing sonicadmin is a straightforward process. To install sonicadmin's client component, you place the Pocket PC in a cradle attached to a desktop and run the client-installation portion of sonicadmin's installation program. As with any Pocket PC application, the application installs on the desktop machine and loads relevant software to the Pocket PC. This installation requires the presence of Microsoft ActiveSync 3.5 on the desktop to transfer application files to the Pocket PC. You can go to http://www.microsoft.com/mobile/pocketpc/downloads/activesync35.asp to download ActiveSync 3.5.

To install sonicadmin's server component, run the server-installation component on the target server. During installation, the program prompts you for the account under which the sonicadmin service will run. This service account must have administrative rights over all the functionality you want to remotely administer. After the installation is complete, you need to configure the users, devices, and servers that you'll administer. You can add as many users as you need to; user accounts let users log in to the sonicadmin server remotely to use the application. To configure devices, you select a device type and assign a name to each device. Finally, by adding servers to the server list, you can use sonicadmin to remotely administer any of these servers. Sonic Mobility licenses sonicadmin according to the number of servers you want to remotely administer, so you need to ensure that you have the necessary licenses before you add servers.

Sonicadmin also lets you use the X10 protocol to restart servers that have crashed and aren't responding to other administrative commands. X10 is a communication protocol that lets you use existing 110-volt wiring to talk to a server or any other X10-enabled 110-volt device. Thus, sonicadmin lets you control servers through their power supply when they aren't responding to wireless communication.

On a final note, I've received several email messages about other mobile and wireless remote-administration products (e.g., Northern Parklife's Mobiserver, StarRemote Wireless's StarAdmin). I don't have time to review these products, but you can find more information at the URLs at the end of this article. If you're evaluating remote-administration tools, you might want to consider these products.

In the next regular edition of Mobile & Wireless UPDATE on February 14, I'll take a closer look at another remote-administration product, Kesem Technology's Serverphone, and how it differs from sonicadmin.

http://www.sonicmobility.com
http://www.northern.net
http://www.starremote.com

Until next time,
Steve Milroy, steve@milroy.com